Taking waste and turning it into the future.
| A work in progress:
Everyone wanted the metal silicon and undegraded plastic from the satellites and boosters left in orbit from the early part of the space age. Recycle ships would strip everything down and separate the useful and salvagable from the trash and nearly all of it was sold as soon as it was acquired. The only exception seemed to be the degraded plastics used nearly everywhere. The radiation, micrometeorites and friction from the nebulous atmosphere it traveled through eroded the surface and broke down many of the chemical bonds making the plastic durable and strong. The temperatures caused it to be brittle and unworkable under vacuum conditions as well.
Instead of creating a pressurized reprocessing facility and recycling the plastics, most of it was discarded or shredded and used as filler. The trading charts had it trending downward and currently available for $72 a ton. Perfect for my purposes and far cheaper than any other substance outside of the atmosphere.
The 3D printer I chose was not only the most popular model available, but a modified one was available in orbit for less than the cost of launching a new one. The latest and greatest was already pushing the older models out and people were eager to sell them while they still had value. As long as it could dissolve plastics and produce Carbon Nanotubes in various lengths and bundles, it was more than sufficient for my needs. I had run the simulations and had my design saved and ready to go.
A knockoff well used dragon capsule was the most expensive part of my plan and a quick search showed that the prices were still around the same level as when I had last checked. I started moving money around and by the end of the day had secured rights to all 3 necessary pieces of my new home. The capsule would come fully stocked with recyclers for air food and water as it required by law and the 3D printer would start turning useless plastic into useful CNTs as soon as the printer was supplied with the raw materials.
The design I had settled on would power itself as soon as the first pieces started coming out of the printer letting me not worry about more than the first hour of power needed to become independent. By the time I was able to sell off my remaining assets here on earth and secure the spot in liftoff schedule for my capsule, it would almost ready to dock the capsule into the cocoon and make history. The excess power could even be sold back to the station as it was built to offset some of the costs of the parking orbit fees being charged for the bulk plastic and 3D printer as it sat outside of the salvage station. 99.99% of the in-falling light would automatically be converted to electricity and stored within thousands of kilometers of super-capacitors layered upon super-capacitor by nano-meter thin layers of ultra-hard vacuum acting as the structural,electrical storage, electrical generation via photo-voltaic carbon nano-tube forests on the outer skin of the craft.
Recent system navy mandates had ended the burgeoning field of solar sail craft moving around the system. Recently enough of them had finally been in service that the incidental reflections of the millions of square kilometers of mirrors had started causing sensitive astronomy devices to be rendered useless. Some of the destroyed devices were secret black budget and next generation levels of sensitivity. The powers that be declared a moratorium on reflective propulsion for any but government approved missions. Everyone assumed this meant no more solar power craft, but they forgot about the possibility of non-reflective surfaces.