Jade Rabbit (Yutu, 玉兔) is the oldest offworld colony in the System besides the International Space Station. It began as a research base established in 2021, shortly after the completion of China’s space elevator. It was named for the Chinese lunar rover, which was itself named for the pet rabbit of Chang'e, the goddess of the Moon in Chinese mythology.
- Government: Socialist republic
- Head of state: Chairman Li
- Sovereignty: De jure owned by Old China, de facto independent
- Location: Mare Imbrium, Luna
- Established: 2022
- Major ports: Shajiang (Mortar, 砂浆)
- Industries: He3 mining, tourism
- Currency: CNY
- Population estimate: 800,000
- Languages: Mandarin, English
- Religions: Buddhism
Before the colony rush, Jade Rabbit was developed simultaneously as a staging point for Earth-Mars missions and as a mega-wealthy tourist destination. However, space tourism did not become a viable industry until much later in the century, and not at Luna, as the majority of the early emigrants from Earth were blue-collar labourers bound for the Belt, Mars, and lucrative Outer System stakes.
When Xinhua overthrew Old China in 2051, many in the Communist Party fled to Pakistan; fewer still were able to travel in secret to Jade Rabbit, where the leadership had publicly denounced the new regime. Diplomatic efforts by Xinhua to (re)assert its ownership of Jade Rabbit lasted until 2059 when they were halted by Kessler Syndrome. Jade Rabbit’s intermittent communication with Xinhua is one of the few sources of information in the System about Earth, though many claim it to be false given Jade Rabbit’s refusal to explain how they have this link.
Development & Decay
Much of Luna’s infrastructure was never finished, and was abandoned as business interests left for Mars and the Belt. Workers walked off excavation sites mid-development, leaving wiring exposed, enormous mining drones idle or even actively digging, processed meals and card games lying in tableaux to gather dust, preserved by vacuum. Launch facilities might feature two completed launchpads, but a grid of zoning beacons show where another seven were due. A maglev network between Jade Rabbit and prominent settlements was never finished, and major lines end abruptly in half-dug trenches waiting for supporting pylons. Settlements not connected by the maglev largely failed, leading to economic depression and ghost towns.
The prevalence of empty and unfinished living areas and disused launch facilities made Luna attractive to squatters and other persons living outside the law. Luna has a large transient population who, by and large, lead lives made dangerous and desperate without the support of social services or basic necessities. Entering abandoned compounds on Luna stands a fair chance of finding its transient population dead from starvation or asphyxiation, or alive but hostile and envious of newcomers.
Luna’s livelihood is in the Helium-3 mining and processing facilities at Jade Rabbit. Jade Rabbit can't compete with the abundance of resources at Uranus, Saturn and Neptune, but it boasts the most mature extraction process in the system, the mining having begun in the infancy of space colonisation. The smaller overhead when shipping fuel to the Inner System allows it to remain competitive. Lunar shipping companies put fuel barges into low energy transfer orbits, allowing these ‘slowboats’ to travel to Inner System destinations for a fraction of the cost of a regular burn, but over the course of weeks or months.
Early parts of Jade Rabbit and nearby settlements were developed by space services in partnership with international hotel companies for space tourism. To attract mega-wealthy investors and clientele, these hotels were designed in classic art-deco style, and featured comforts on par with five star plus pleasure destinations on Earth.
Some simply didn’t find enough business. Others, like the Hotel Mare Imbrium, experienced freak, high-profile episodes of mass psychosis and death. The heyday of space tourism left the System just as soon as it had arrived, and did not return for nearly thirty years - and not to Luna.