Guidelines for Living in Space
This is intended simply to categorize the kinds of living situations for a person who lives in space rather than on a planet for the purposes of character development. I've tried to lay out the general ideas, questions, and concepts to create a character that lives alone along with why and how it effects them. Of course these are guidelines designed to gives a person things to consider when they create a character, they are by no means hard and fast rules.
Where to live?
The most basic question is divided into two major categories...
- Aboard a Space Station
- Aboard a Ship
Space Station Living
Living on a space station gives the opportunity to have a stable home setting while still retaining some of the plot elements for living in space. These can include any of the exciting things that might happen like being attacked by aliens or the need for life support but also give access to any plot elements present at a terrestrial sea port.
Space stations can be either plush with ample and high quality living arrangements (like Deep Space 9 or Earth's Space Dock in Star Trek) or be exactly the opposite such as space ports seen in Firefly.
- Communications satellite (interstellar telephone operator of sorts)
- Remote science outpost (like living in a research station at the south pole)
- Sentry station (early warning against invasions)
- Interstellar gas station / convenience store (living the dream!)
- Why is the station there?
- What do people who live there do?
- Is it military, corporate/industrial, corporate/commercial or government run but not military?
- What sort of authority structure provides laws and social structure?
- Does the station have some kind of important or dramatic history?
- How old is the station or how long has it been since it was maintained?
When building a setting make sure that all the aspects mesh with each other and fit together well. Avoid stations with no purpose that are just floating there to be a setting - even if you don't elaborate on more than just "it's a commercial station" or "it is a colony".
Space Ship Living
The same kinds if questions apply to a ship as with a station. Why is it there? Who owns or operates the ship? What kind of living conditions are normal aboard the ship? What kinds of facilities does the ship have? As a related article one should look at the Personal Space Craft page for information on what kinds of ships might be suited for living in space without a crew / with a small crew.
- Transport ship (the most space for cargo or passengers as possible)
- Scout ship (moving fast and light)
- Running from someone or something (danger Will Robinson!)
- Covert operative (can't trust anyone else)
- Where is the ship going and why?
- How often does it need to resupply?
Some situations call for a character to be on their own for some reason. Maybe creating a crew causes problems for the desired setting or maybe for dramatic purposes the character should be alone. Aside from the questions about why a character is going to be alone in the vastness of space there are living considerations. There are also psychological concerns for living alone, it takes a special kind of (crazy?) person to live truly alone. Or perhaps this person never sticks around too long, moves around a lot, and only relies on themselves?
Living alone isn't easy even in a community and this is amplified if a person is truly alone in the vast black empty of space.
Living in Isolation
- How does the character handle the ship or station alone?
- How are repairs accomplished?
- Where does she get her food?
- What happens if she has to go away, leaving everything unattended?
- How far away is help (if there is help at all)?