How many humans are there, alive and reachable by us?
Let me throw some numbers at you...
The Yards of Gadani station, my current home, has 15 areas. On average, I see between one and five, sometimes maybe ten people per area. I assume 4 as athe average here. Let's say I only see about 0.1% of all the people living there. Then there would be
15 areas * 4 people/area / 0.1% = 60,000 people
living in Yards of Gadani.
There are 14 stations known to be inhabited, and connected to us. Extrapolating the same population number to those 14 stations, we can assume about 840,000 peeple living on those stations, or for the sake of brevity, one million.
This estimation itself is not remarkable, until you combine it with another one. As some of my readers might know, I work as a Port Technician, and one of my regular tasks is to replace the hull of a space craft. On good days, I manage to do that on maybe 20 or 30 vessels, and together with my colleagues, I'm sure we serve at least 100 vessels per day. Yards of Gadani is a hot spot for such activities, due the low gravity and the ship breaking yard. But, other stations still do hull replacements, so let's assume 1000 space ship hulls replaced per day.
Now, things get interesting. A hull isn't something that you replace just for fun. It's expensive, it's a dangerous business (both for the ship and the technicians working on it), and it takes its time. You only do that when absolutely necessary (did I mention I also do hull integrity tests?). A given space craft needs a new hull every, say, 5000 days, from which we can deduce a total number of about 5 Million ships.
If you compare those two numbers -- 1 Mio people living on stations, 5 Mio ships -- you know what caught my interest. Even if the numbers are off by a factor of 10, maybe, that'd still be one active ship per two people living on a station.
Space travel is expensive, resource-intensive and dangerous. Space ships need fuel, spare parts and repairs, and their crews need oxygen, water, food, training, medical care, and don't forget the administration, security, taxes etc. I'd expect maybe 200 to 2000 people living on station per space ship.
What do we make of this factor 1000 or so, give or take, between expected and projected numbers?
Your guess is as good as mine, but here are some ideas:
- My numbers might be totally bogus. That explanation is boring, and so easily dismissed.
- Stations are vastly more populated than it seems. But then, where is everybody, and why are they hiding?
- There might be huge network of mostly self-sustaining space ships that occasionally travel to stations for their hull replacements. What are they doing all the time, and how do they manage to get by so independently?
- It's all a big conspiracy. I don't know why, or how, though.
Whatever is hiding in the shadows, I'm determined to find out, through patient observation and occasional exploration.