Directionality in Zero-G

Phrases like “things are looking up” and “look at the upside” once meant something like “consider the good in the situation,” but they went through an ironic shift in the solar system’s early spacecolonial culture, mutating in the microgravity of early tin-can stations to mean a variety of practically sarcastic sentiments, typically something like “be careful” or “let’s be realistic.” The joke (that is, that there is no “upside”) wore off in a hurry, but use it with some original space colonists or old-school veteran habtechs and you might break some ice. Try it sarcastically as a harmless bit of jargon (“look up, at least we’ll die quickly”) or transform it a little (“that bastard’s always looking up”) to fold yourself into a habtech conversation.

Directionality depends entirely on your frame of reference. In microgravity, everything is pretty much arbitrary, especially in interplanetary space. The first space stations in orbit around Earth used a coordinate system based on the nadir-zenith axis. Nadir pointed to the Earth, while Zenith pointed out into space. The plane perpendicular to this axis was used to define “port,” “starboard,” “forward,” and “aft.” Internally, up and down were called “overhead” and “deck” and corresponded to zenith and nadir, respectively.

Current cluster and beehive colonies are much more complicated in geometry than those early tin cans, so most adopt a local x-y-z coordinate axis at the volumetric center and indicate location on a three-dimensional frame. For example, it is common to define a series of levels (the z axis) and a twodimensional coordinate grid (the x and y axes) on each level. Within an enclosed volume, “overhead” is in the direction of the “top” level and “deck” is in the direction of the “bottom” level.


Many of the phrases we use on Earth make no sense in space.

Folksonomies: futurism language space travel

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/business and industrial/aerospace and defense/space technology (0.360559)

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Analytic geometry (0.956574): dbpedia | freebase
Frame of reference (0.887426): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Coordinate system (0.879204): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Polar coordinate system (0.831644): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Geometry (0.775578): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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Dimension (0.663122): dbpedia | freebase
Coordinate systems (0.655102): dbpedia

 Eclipse Phase - Panopticon
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Boyle , Rob and Cross, Brian (2011-06-15), Eclipse Phase - Panopticon, Retrieved on 2013-06-17
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  • Folksonomies: futurism rpg