Modern colonies come in one of three basic forms - Space Colonies for Civilian Living, Space Colonies for Industrial Construction, and Space Colonies for Military Utility. A number of older-style colony types have been retired, while others continue as support structures to the modern Clusters, mostly as research and remote industrial structures. In addition, new stations are constantly being built to serve the same functions.
Space Colony for Civilian Living (SCCL)
The most common form of colony, each SCCL is theoretically a self-contained and self-sufficient living and working place. In addition to providing housing, SCCLs also have fairly extensive industrial and agro-industrial infrastructure. In practice, a given SCCL tends to adopt its own character and specialization, which was one of the driving forces behind the reorganization into the Cluster format around the end of the First Century. SCCLs are semi-mobile, in order to accommodate orbit corrections or repositioning within the cluster for other reasons. For longer distance travel - for example, transfer between clusters - they are normally moved by a SCIC.
Prior to the reorganization, colonies were numbered in accordance to their sequential completion. They were renumbered according to distance to Earth and assigned cluster. For a time, there were gaps in the numbering (notably SCCL-013 was missing for seventy years) but they have been filled in. Clusters are created in pairs, with Side A and Side B. Side A consists of 1-5, and Side B of 6-0. For example, Cluster 2A consists of SCCLs 021-025, and 2B of SCCL 026-030. The closest Cluster to Earth is Cluster 0. Clusters also typically include a large number of sub-stations and satellites that support the SCCLs, and in some cases larger industrial complexes like shipyards.
The current standard SCCL, known as the Garden-ω design, consists of a single large enclosed cylinder. The cylinder itself rotates to provide artificial gravity. A second, smaller uninihabited cylinder acts as a counter-rotating weight to keep the structure stable. The SCCL also has large large solar arrays for power. Each of this class of SCCL has a major dock at the "end-cap" opposite the counter-weight. Most have their larger industrial facilities at the end-cap with the counter-weight. Some SCCLs also feature slower rotatiting low-gravity agricultural or industrial "rings" built out from the gearing of the cylinde/counter-weight assembly. At least one features a ring built to produce heavier gravity instead for argicultural research.
The Garden-ω design is a modification of the Garden-γ design, using better materials, restructuring the mirrors and solar arrays, and replacing old fission backup reactors with fusion designs. Garden-γ was itself a scaled up Garden-β design, the first successful civilian colony design (Garden-α was a half-scale model built to prove the concept and was intentionally destroyed during testing of its safety systems). Garden-γ refit to -ω standards are identified as Garden-γ/R.
The Garden designs are intended to support a population of 50-100 thousand. This assumes both self-sufficiency using standard agricultural methods, and a fair bit of open space for the population. Some colonies support significantly larger populations, and the theoretical maximum using high-density farming maybe ten times as many, but population density is intentionally kept relatively low. Garden designs are about 2.6km in radius and about 26km long.
Garden-ω is a relatively inefficient design, however, and after over half a century of contentious arguments and redesigns, the new Island Three design is slated to be introduced. The exact details of the new colony design has been kept largely under wraps.
The first fully operational space colony of the modern era, SCCL-Alpha is maintained primarily as a museum and the site of a number of governmental buildings, though the actual seat of government is SCCL-001. SCCL-Alpha is only about two-thirds the size of a modern SCCL, and has less than half the population. SCCL-Alpha is also the site of the Millenia Clock, the central time-keeping atomic clock that uses the completion of the colony as its zero-point. The activation of the Millenia Clock is thus the official start of the Space Era.
Also called the Century Colony, 026 was built in 100SE as a celebration of peace for the turn of the century, was part of the first completed cluster, and was the first officially completed Garden-ω. Technically 059 predates it, but it is a prototype model that was reconditioned for actual use in 112SE. It was also the headquarters for Orbital AgriTech and several other major companies. It had a reputation as being a fairly upper-class, conservative colony, though in fact the population spanned the economic spectrum. In 200SE, 026 was destroyed in a terrorist incident.
The “sister” colony of 026, 027 is a quieter place, essentially the cluster's suburb. It also supports a great deal of agriculture and the largest agri-ring in the Inner Colonies. 027 is also the home of the Rock Gym, currently run by Storm.
Known as the Shining Colony, 031 is the heart of the colonial fashion, film, and music industries. Of course, this does sometimes attract the seedier elements that fly under the bright spotlights in these fields. 031 also has more Pokémon Contest and Musical sites than any other colony. Appropriately, it is the home of the Orthrom family as well as the official Fire Gym, currently run by music idol Ariel Orthrom.
The home of the KS Group and KuSHI main offices, as well as the closest SCCL to Steiner Metallwerks.
051 may technically be self-sufficient, but in practice it serves as a resort. Alternatively called the Beach or Ocean Colony, with much of its "land" underwater, and it supports several kilometers of pristine beachfront. 051 is famous throughout the system and sees the most tourist traffic of any colony by far. The independent Water Gym run by Kimberly Akisawa-Delfino is located on 051 as well.
Prior to the completion of 051, 053 was a major tourist destination due to its famous “sky gardens” and large population of rare birds and flying pokémon. It is of course the home of the Flying Gym, run by Rebecca Akisawa-Delfino. Currently, it is a quieter place but has expanded its light-manufacturing facilities to replace lost tourist income.
Neon Colony, Sin Station, Midas – 066 has picked up many nicknames. During its refits, the leaders of the colony decided to address its continuing economic woes by converting it into a hedonistic paradise. The lighting in the main habitat was deactivated to create a permanent night. Casinos, clubs, and business catering to dozens of other legal vices were not just allowed, but encouraged. 066 has the most transient population of any colony, and like 051 relies heavily on tourist trade – though its also the third largest producer of electronic products and is the “second tier” for the fashion industry. 066 is also the location of the Poison Gym, run by Havelock King.
The mirror of 053, 073 is the Snow Colony, purposefully kept in a perpetual winter. Though this makes it the second largest resort location in the colonies after 051 (and just ahead of 066), the climate is also critical to a number of resident industries and for the breeding of certain pokémon. 073 is the home of the Ice Gym.
Space Colonies for Industrial Construction
Unlike SCCLs, SCICs are designed to be mobile, allowing them to transfer from cluster to cluster in order to support very large scale construction projects, primarily to building, refit, or repair of new SCCLs and other large stations. Originally each Cluster side was intended to have its own SCIC, but it quickly became apparent that this would be vastly more capacity than was actually needed. Currently, there are eleven SCICs, a bit fewer than one per cluster.
SCICs are quite different than SCCLs. They have been likened to partially bloomed flowers, essentially several large curved panels - the construction assembly - connected to a base torus. The panels are hinged to allow them to expand the internal area of the assembly, and can extend additional struts to increase their length. At maximum extension, the assembly is 3km in radius and 27km long, allowing a SCIC to completely envelope a SCCL. Minimum extension is 2km in radius and 12km long. Attached to the torus are large engines for movement, as well as a small habitat cylinder - about 1.5km in radius and 6km long - that projects in the opposite direction than the construction assembly. SCICs have a population of about 15,000. These populations tend to be much more transient than on SCCLs.
Space Colony for Military Utility
SCMUs are naval support structures, and tend to be built like fortresses. They are heavily armored and armed, and have large engine assemblies to allow them to change orbits. They are, however, much slower than even the most ponderous military vessels, and ton-for-ton not nearly as heavily armed. They include large dry-docks and repair facilities for military spacecraft as well as command and control facilities. There are seven acknowledged SCMUs, all controlled by the ESMF, though rumors of additional stations are rampant.
The ESMF uses the Gibraltar design, a cylinder of about 1.6km in diameter and 6km in length. Notably, Gibraltars have a secondary internal cylinder about 250m in diameter that runs the length of the center of the habitat, which serves as a massive zero/low-g drydock. Additionally, the cylinder is cut into six toroidal segments each 1km in length, with bulkheads in between each. This makes them extremely resilient to damage, and provides an easy way to keep classified facilities separated even within the same SCMU. Despite their relatively small size, as military facilities SCMUs have fairly high population density, with about 30,000 on board personnel, depending on operational status.