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System research ships are basically self-propelled laboratories that are based at space stations or (rarely) at a spaceport on a planet (hull size 3-6). They are used to explore, map and analyze the planets, asteroids, moons and star(s) of a given star system.

Detection of gravitational patterns, star mapping, and atmosphere and ecological analysis of potentially habitable planets are among the primary functions of system research ships. The rocket engines of system ships are not capable of interstellar travel, but large research ships can spend up to a year in space before returning to base.

System research ships are part of much larger organizations (usually government programs or corporate endeavors). Privately-owned ships of this sort are unheard of. (A privately-owned research ship would likely be a starship research vessel.)[1]


Starship research vessels are ships that have atomic engines and are capable of interstellar jumps (hull size 3-7). These ships are often used to examine recently-discovered systems, deep space phenomena (gas clouds, etc) or the mineral resources of distant and uninhabitable planets and asteroids.

Performance is not a priority on these ships, so acceleration and maneuverability tend to be poor. However, starship research vessels are often capable of making three jumps before the engine needs an overhaul.

Starship research vessels are usually apart of much larger organizations (usually government programs, or corporate endeavors[2]), but privately-owned research ships of this sort are not unheard of. Privately-owned ships are rare due to the specialized crew and equipment required - not to mention the risks of exploring an unknown system.[3]


Known Research Vessels:

Notes and References Edit

  • data on the UPFS Eleanor Moraes was cited from Knight Hawks modules: #2 Mutiny on the Eleanor Moraes, #3 Face of the Enemy, and #4 The War Machine
  1. Knight Hawks Campaign Book
  2. The UPF's Planetary Survey Administration owns and operates several of these craft, including the Eleanor Moraes.
  3. Knight Hawks Campaign Book
  4. Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn module "Bugs in the System"

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