Wheel in the Sky



Mobile Suit Gundam: High Frontier

Life In The Universal Century

Wheel in the Sky


Another type of space colony was introduced in the “alternate universe” Gundam series, After Colony Gundam Wing and its three-volume OAV sequel Endless Waltz. The space colonies of Gundam Wing combine elements of the 1968 Space Wheel design from 2001: A Space Odyssey and the 1975 Stanford torus design from Space Settlements: A Design Study.

Like the 2001 Space Wheel, it features a square-cross-sectioned wheel with a large cylindrical hub connected by four cylindrical spokes. Like the Stanford torus, it is a true habitat—a space colony that is a home to its inhabitants, not just an outpost in space.


But, where the Space Wheel was a city in space and the Standford torus was a small island in space, this new design is, like those of the mainstream Gundam saga, a complete and independent city-state in space. The wheel-shaped colonies of Gundam Wing are 18 kilometers (11.2 miles) in diameter and four kilometers (2½ miles) in cross-section—about ten times the dimensions of the Stanford torus. They have a habitable area of 225 square kilometers (87 square miles) or 22,500 hectares (55,600 acres) supporting a population of one and a half million.


The cylindrical hub is 18 kilometers long and 3.6 kilometers in diameter—almost exactly midway in size between the O’Neill “Island Two” and “Island Three” cylinders—and roughly the same area as the wheel. This cylinder is given over entirely to docking bays, industrial complexes and environmental systems for the residential wheel, however.

The pseudo-gravity in the cylinder is only 20% percent that of the wheel, so if the wheel has pseudo-gravity on par with that of the Earth, the pseudo-gravity in the cylinder will only be 6% higher than that of the Moon.



In a design unique to Gundam Wing, two colony wheels are often shown linked together at one end, not with relatively small cables or struts, but with a substantial (and presumably fixed and stationary) bridge-like structure that makes the paired colonies resemble a giant roller skate or bicycle!

In April 2010, as part of the Gundam 30th anniversary celebration, a Stanford torus colony design was finally added to the official mix of Gundam space habitats.

Laplace, the official residence of the Earth Federation Prime Minister, is situated in a 200-kilometer polar orbit along the Earth’s terminator that keeps it perpetually sunlit, rather than at one of the five Lagrange points, but is otherwise true to the original 1977 Stanford torus design.

Inaugurated on 1 January UC 0001, it didn’t even last out that year, victim of terrorist bombing during the Universal Century inauguration ceremony.

Despite a detailed panoramic view and several interior shots to show off its many splendors, the Laplace habitat only had a total screen time of ~2 minutes before it was spectacularly destroyed.

Perhaps the subsequent psychological trauma of the “Laplace Incident” explains why few (if any) other Stanford torus habitats were ever built thereafter.

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Last Update: 01 January 2020

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