Fight the Fall
Locus is the largest cluster hab ever created, an eleven-kilometer-wide irregular sphere with thousands of habitat modules docked to its skeleton of rings and spars. A conical cutaway with a base about 8.5 kilometers wide (1/4 of the overall circumference of the sphere) runs all the way to its center, forming a 5.5-kilometer-deep central area that is open to space and off limits to large ships. By tradition, the base of the cone is kept pointed toward Proxima Centauri, Sol’s nearest interstellar neighbor.
At eleven kilometers in diameter, Locus dwarfs most other habs, all other Nuestro shells, and many nearby asteroids. Its size required some departures from the usual Nuestro shells design. Small Nuestros usually have rigid superstructures, but making a rigid frame of Locus’s size capable of withstanding the stresses generated when station keeping rockets fire far exceeded the resources available. So instead, Locus’s structure is more like the skeleton of a gigantic animal. Where the spars and rings making up its superstructure meet, they’re joined not by metal hinges or self-healing welds, but by a much older technology: lashing. Locus’s massive segments act like ligaments in the skeleton, each bone lashed together at its end points by hundreds of cables. The resulting structure always keeps its general shape, yet has enough give that forces are distributed over a wide area when firing rockets to keep station.