As an international, duty-free port, Gateway draws all sorts of individuals, and is considered something of a wild and wooly place. Hanging in the vacuum of space, the facility also requires a very advanced technological system to maintain the life contained within its walls.
Although Earth ’s beanstalk is jointly owned by the members of the European Space Agency (ESA), it rises from the soil of Libreville in Zaire, a department of France. Because of this, Libreville reflects a predominantly French influence. Such is not the case with Gateway French presence is certainly evident, but it is thoroughly intermixed with the presence of members of nearly every other nation on Earth as well. This true internationality has helped to keep Gateway free from domination by any one nation or bloc of nations.
At the top of Earth’s beanstalk hangs the planet’s primary port of entry-Gateway. Gateway rests just inside the edge of the protective shell of Orbital Quarantine Command (OQC), and houses the offices of that facility as well as the offices of Gateway itself and representative offices from a multitude of governments and businesses. Numerous satellites circle the Earth in the same orbit as Gateway. Some are orbital factories, others are docking facilities, and still others are entertainment or hotel facilities. The best way to gain an understanding of Gateway is to imagine it as a massive international city Not all of Earth’s traffic is handled through this port, but a good portion is-at present estimates, at least 20 percent of Earth’s cargoes and 60 percent of its passengers pass through Gateway on their way to or from the planet.
Two major reasons account for this popularity. The first is the beanstalk. The beanstalk provides Gateway with dependable, inexpensive travel to and from Terra’s surface, and it also serves as a ready source of cheap power, helping a facility as extensive as Gateway to remain competitive. Solar collectors at various heights along the beanstalk cable harvest the sun’s light, yielding power not only for the beanstalk itself, but also for many of the nations surrounding the beanstalk’s lower end in Libreville. The second major reason for Gateway’s popularity is that it is a duty-free port. Like a futuristic Hong Kong in orbit, Gateway draws people from all worlds into an international mixture unlike anywhere else Nearly anything a person might want can be found at Gateway, if enough time is spent to find it and a sufficient amount of money is involved.