There’s a hidden harvest awaiting us in space. It comes from the 500 square miles of land inside an O’Neill Cylinder. Proposed in 1974 by Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill, an O’Neill Cylinder is a pair of giant cans in the sky made of concrete and steel, cans twenty miles long and four miles in diameter. An O’Neill Cylinder is big enough to house millions. Big enough to have forests, farmlands, parks, puppies, and cities. The O’Neill Cylinder’s rotation produces artificial gravity. It is parked in permanent sunlight and has unending energy. Its raw materials—glass, steel, and the stuff of microchips—is made of moon dust and the minerals of asteroids. Its water comes from the giant ice-balls known as comets.
From 1500 to 1600, the opening of the New World more than tripled the gross domestic product of humanity. In the same way, O’Neill Cylinders will provide one of the biggest economic boosts man-and-womankind has ever seen. And O’Neill colonies will provide ecosystems with whole new landscapes in which to flourish, evolve, and thrive.