XKORB is an extremely loose association of individuals, guilds, and some non-guild factions whose primary place of residence and/or employment is space (including the uninhabitable planets of the solar system). The abbreviation is a simplified (or mangled, depending on opinion) transliteration of 'Expansion, Colonization and Orbital Residence Building' - an overarching ideal of moving beyond Etera and Tebríth, and perhaps eventually even beyond the solar system.
Nowadays, the primary ideal gave way to more focus on the more pragmatic concerns, and while most spacers will nominally self-identify as XKORBers, this gives absolutely no guarantees of them agreeing on any specific thing. In fact, outright hostilities between XKORBers are not unheard of.
While precise numbers aren't known, it is estimated that about 50 million Eterans and Tebríthans lead an XKORBian lifestyle, which would be considered implausible a century ago.
Notable Subgroups Edit
Not all subgroups are factions, but most of them tend to have peculiarities that set them apart from the others.
Void-flux energy plants are ubiquitous around Etera. Orbital power plants supply some of the cities with electricity, 'outsourcing' power production off-planet. There are also a few orbital power stations that serve as recharge points for shuttles.
Finally, some downlinkers also operate battery-fitted shuttles of their own, which provide cheaper energy on-demand to any part of Etera with a landing pad. Admittedly this is a very small fraction of downlinkers, more akin to a emergency service than to something routine. But it tends to show up a lot in fiction, which is why people remember that it exists.
Asteroid Miners Edit
Asteroids are the source of some valuable ores - both mundane and alchemically active. It is often cheaper to get those substances from asteroids than to dig through Etera in search for them. Asteroid miners tend to have ships unsuitable for landing, and are perhaps the most adept at operating in freefall of all XKORBers.
Planetary Miners Edit
With some rare alchemical substances, it's still cheaper to fly all the way to another planet, obtain it there, and return to Etera, than to do so locally. Planetary miner ships tend to be more 'gravity-friendly', which means they often deliver the goods directly to Etera.
Where there are goods, there's trade and delivery, and that means that some people will specialize in providing one or both of these.
There's a notable amount of research being done in space, including but not limited to such topics as exotic radiation, energy fields, microgravity alchemy, and astronomy (obviously).
Outer System Shipbuilders Edit
It is the nature of monopolarized displacer drives that their production is more efficient far away from gravity wells, which means that the outer rim is the best place for shipyards, or at least MPD production.
Where valuables are transported over long distances, there's a chance of robbery or tolls. Piracy isn't an easy career, one requiring stealth and discretion, both of which are in short supply. Still, it's not unheard of. Stealth in the open is rather difficult to achieve, but in areas with a lot of activity and/or cover, it's reasonably possible to become effectively unidentifiable with the right equipment and techniques. But once again, pirates are a group which is disproportionately more common in fiction than in reality.
Graveyard Shift / Graveyard Vigil Edit
A large portion of the surviving Tebríthan fleet is busy patrolling the orbital space of Tebríth, ensuring that nobody will visit the dead planet without permission and a worthy goal. This is both for religious reasons, and because many Tebríthans believe that what caused the catastrophe should remain buried, in order to ensure it doesn't happen again.