In the year 2149, the first manned mining colony was sent into orbit. It took 10 years to get into position and then slowly it started to produce materials. The problem was, at the time, the return was not worth the effort. The project was quickly automated and forgotten.
In 2298, things changed. Materials came back that were not earth based and worth more than their weight in gold. A new wave of mining colonies went out. The old ones were torn down and recycled. This elation quickly died when the costs in supplies and miners were factored in. The mines were unprotected and easy pray for anyone with a ship and a gun. The navy that was born out of the first samples of ore were scattered to the winds trying to keep up with the different stations.
In 2312, Earth decided that the stations were not worth the effort, again. This time they sold them to private interests and forgot about them, for 6 years. A young Commander of a ship watched as hundreds of his men floated into space when one of the mine stations was exploded. He told his superiors that the stations were in the wrong places, again and left the military. His son, a young brilliant tactician, saw how much his father needed to be right for him to have any peace, and hatched a plan. His friends at school, a private school for the elite, were rich. He set about talking them into gathering supplies and setting up a plan to buy one of the stations and moving it to a good location.
The boy, Jerald Grahm, talked with his father about the problems with the stations and their placement. The commander went into detail about the problems the stations faced and their locations. The boy recorded it all. He played it for his friends and got them to start thinking about how to move it and where to place the station.
The people originally involved were two young men that owned their own private space crafts. David Daniels and Hito Nakamura. Their favorite past times usually involved racing their private ships, usually against each other. An engineer with an ungodly high IQ, Mubara Easa. And a buddy of the group named Eddy Pendergrass. The group was able to beg borrow and black mail their friends into putting up some of the money. Eddy was only good for research, he was the one that found the location of one near where they wanted to move it, and that the company that owned it had a daughter in their school. Jerald went to the girl to ask for her to help them in buying the station. The girl, Julian Banks, only agreed when she saw that Hito was on the list of members. She convinced her father to part with the station to her, for the money offered. She then presented the station to the group with the provision she be allowed to join their group. They agreed and started in earnest to figure out the problems based on the blueprints and discussion with Jerald's father. The group quickly found itself overwhelmed by information and went to the other groups on campus to get the know how to fix the problems that they faced. The one that figured out there biggest problem was the guy in charge of the Rock-n-Roll music club. The guy figured out that to keep the system from being crushed by big asteroids, they needed to use sonics to break up the larger asteroids.
In the course of two years the group, unknown to Jerald's father, set up a mission to the station. The group hired the retired spacer to fly the ship out to the station. The campus allowed it, as the school was rich enough to pay people to look the other way. The whole mission became a school project. The station was in bad shape, it took the people that went up, all two hundred of them, over a year to get their individual projects up and functional. The graduation ceremony from high school to the Academy college was short and sweet. The plan was to shift the station to its new location, at the rings of Saturn. The group set everything up and as the adrenalin was wearing off, they each went to their bunks and left the last person to program in the specifics. The programmer, Eddy, typed in the information and sent the station to move to its new location. He fell asleep in the hallway. The station under its own power moved to the location that Eddy typed in, down to the last hundredth of a unit. The problem was that Eddy had typed in the wrong last digit. The difference was huge in space terms.
The next morning, when everyone got up and looked outside expecting to see the rings a few miles off saw a major problem. The rings were touching the station. They rushed to the bridge to check their equipment and see what happened. More than a few people stepped on Eddy as he slept, to tired to notice. The systems had done their work. The main mining systems had recognized the material coming in and usable and started to process the materials. By the time everyone had woken up and realized the problem, the station already had enough materials on it to pay for the station. The teachers on station contacted their school board and explained the situation. The groups that had gone up with one exception passed all their courses. The mining station was up and operational. The supplies being shipped back to Earth were welcomed, and a new wave of mining centers were sent out. This time the stations that were still operational were started to move when the Academy hit the legals with a huge club. Their station was protected by the school charter. The Academy sent up personnel to work on upgrading and repairing the station to support more people. The mining station became a mining colony. It did not take long for the Academy to realize that the only way to protect its investment, was to transfer to the colony. The problem being that the colony was not large enough yet to support the school. Several stations were purchased with the proceeds from the deliveries from the colony. The colony started keeping materials to upgrade and build their new add ons. The entire process took twenty years to complete. The group that went up to set it up were the school board when the Academy went online. They offered all the students unlimited materials to work with and all the time they wanted to work on their projects.
200 years have passed. The station has grown from just the academy to a city in space. In the past 200 years every attempt to take away the school by the Earth government has met with abysmal failures.
The demand that Earth be allowed to police the school and protect the school with their highest grade mechs was met with a Mech Olympic Games, televised. The School students were pitted against the different agencies that were trying to take the school from the board and deliver it to the Earth government. The students won, easily.
The demand that Academy ships be required to submit to seizure searches by different organizations was met with the Academy sending the materials directly to the old school location to be sold to the highest bidder.
The demand by the Earth forces that the plans for all the inventions of the students be turned over for what ever purpose the Earth congress decided, was shot down by a copyright clerk. The Academy was registering each major discovery with the government since day one.
The demand that the Academy purchase supplies for its thousands of students was shot down as they were already producing most of the supplies to make the items that the companies on Earth were triple pricing and reselling to the students. This was killed by Academy purchasing the equipment to build the items on site and making all the items themselves.
The demand that all the students be required to pay for the trip up and back at the end of their schooling. The school started paying both the students(based on grades) and the families of the students, to help with bills.