Al Globus has published a paper outlining an easier way to build a space settlement. He describes a relatively simple, near-term path to the first true space settlements in easy to understand language.
The first key to this path is that Earth’s magnetic field provides excellent radiation protection for settlements in Equatorial Low Earth Orbit (ELEO), orbits near Earth directly above the equator. The second is that people can tolerate much higher rotation rates than previously believed. This means that settlements in ELEO can be about 500 times less massive than previous designs. The smaller size and proximity to Earth more than make up for the lack of materials available on the Moon and Mars. References to technical papers will lead the curious to the detailed data behind these conclusions.
Read the paper here.