Hangzhou Orbital (Hangzhou Gong, 杭州宫) is an O’Neill Cylinder space habitat. Over two decades, it was constructed from mineral-rich trojan asteroids at Mars’ 5th Lagrange point. The interior of the colony was designed to resemble, and even improve on, Earth environments, from its near 1G spin gravity, its 24-hour Earth day, and its sustainable, symbiotic ecosystem.
- Government: Plutocracy
- Head of state: President Bai Zhihao
- Sovereignty: Independent
- Location: Mars L5
- Established: Construction began 2035, completed 2055
- Major ports: Qiantangmen (钱塘门)
- Industries: Financial services, agriculture
- Currency: XNY
- Population estimate: 3,000,000
- Languages: Mandarin, English
- Religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism
Hangzhou Orbital was constructed by a joint venture dozens of Earth nations, and hundreds of private investors spanning the System. The design firm Apogee Megaengineering (now ‘Apogee’) pitched an idyllic Earthlike environment, a home away from home. From conception to delivery, Hangzhou took almost twenty years to complete — and most investors underwent one or more changes in leadership over that period, so enthusiasm in the project waxed and waned — however it is universally agreed that the ROI for those lucky few that bought in is inconceivably high.
Tourism & Immigration
Access to and within the station is highly regimented. Citizens may move freely but must present ID when crossing the border at the ring hub or by air taxi. Noncitizens can purchase affiliate status, generally reserved for visitors with regular business on the station, which allows them to apply on arrival for the HG-1 seventy-two hour business entry visa. Ships’ passengers may enter a lottery for a G-2 twenty-four hour tourist visa. Overstaying a visa triggers a security alert, a hefty fine, and a security drone escort back to the vessel, or deportation to the Labyrinth.
The E-2A and E-2B are permanent work visas for skilled and unskilled labor. While they were created to grant entry to engineers and construction workers for station maintenance, and they are technically still used for that purpose, in practice they are used for indentured servitude. Estates can sponsor anywhere from one to dozens of live-in E-2 workers. Hangzhou’s living standards, when compared with the rest of the System, are so high that demand far outweighs supply. There is a shortlist of applicants in near-Mars space for the next decade, and desperate people frequently use their last funds to travel to Qiantangmen, hoping to impress Hangzhou residents they meet in transit.
E-2s must wear a slim silver RFID-chipped wristband which contains their visa details and biometric data.
West Lake is the name of Hangzhou’s reservoir and the landscape surrounding it. Property in and around West Lake is bar none the most expensive real estate in the System. The median sale value for a house on West Lake has remained at or near two hundred times the yearly salary (before tax) of an apprenticed technician, or a junior non-commissioned officer in the Tharsis Navy.
The typical household sits on a volumetric plot of almost one acre, including a private airspace and no-fly zone. The main structure is a traditional Chinese arrangement of bay houses around a courtyard, and depending on the size and wealth of the estate, may have multiple inner courtyards and wings added modularly. Numerology is incorporated into the design after ancient Imperial fashion, and households will attempt to have 9, 99, or 999 rooms wherever possible. Houses will typically face toward the Orbital’s sun mirror. For colour, red tiles and walls are for happiness, and many have yellow roof tiles in Imperial style.
Gardens surrounding the house are largely self-maintaining, though E-2s will often visibly tend to them or the systems that monitor them. A nanotech security carpet layer listens and feels for intruding presences, and public security drones patrol the sky, scanning the area through hyperspectral imaging (carefully avoiding seeing into private households). The gardens themselves are arranged carefully around specific viewing positions and the feeling-states they offer, such as the best place to view ‘dawn’, or where rain on the leaves is most striking. Other parts conceal secluded kiosks and pavillions blending harmoniously with nature, where private parties and meetings may be held.
A sign of great status is a private jetty extending onto West Lake itself so that one may fish. The law there is as the rest of the System: what you can catch, you own.