Space Stations are generally large outposts that are placed in orbit around a planet, star or other system body or at a lagrange point in the system. They are distinguished from spaceships by their lack of major drive systems, rendering them practically immobile in their location.
It is no exaggeration to state that space stations are the backbone of interstellar commerce and that without them, the interstellar economy would collapse.
In addition to commerce, space stations are used for agriculture, scientific research, and planetary defense. Stations designed for planetary defense are designated "fortresses," and can serve as bases for military ships. Fortresses usually have a small complement of fighters that can be launched and rearmed there.
Space Stations are constructed in two broad groups; Artificial Sattelites and Dugouts:
These are what most people think of when they imagine a space station in the Frontier; ring-shaped stations spinning in their central axis to generate artificial gravity along its rim. These stations usually serve as bases for spaceship operations and as links for space-planetary communications, trade and travel. At major starship airdocks and military bases, as many as six or eight Type-VI stations may be linked in a line, but these orbiting giants are rare.
Space Station hulls are rated 1-6, with 1 the smallest (at 200m dia.) and 6 the largest (at 1,200m dia.). Additionally, they are classified by the number of rings that are connected to each other (1-8, no larger ones have been constructed).
There are a number of stations built out of hollowed-out asteroids. This is the product of asteroid mining, where valuable materials would be found on the inside and the shell would also serve to contain loose materials and equipment. Such stations are not popular as they have no means to generate gravity on their own, and unless a flywheel-based "grav deck" has been installed, crew-members would have to leave the station to experience near-normal gravity or suffer the damage that comes with living too long in a zero-gee environment. If not for this limitation, asteroid stations would be highly popular, as the mining operations often leave an infrastructure suitable for habitation, and vast empty cavities for expatiation. In many cases, they could serve as a system's primary outpost until a ringed station could be built.
Types of Stations
Space stations are built for a variety of reasons. In a number of cases a station was built for one role but was later re-configured for another. (Example: an armed civilian commerce station could be converted into a Fortified Station for military use, if it was given to the UPF by the local government.)
Here are some of the most common types of stations:
This type of station is dedicated to research and/or education. The station is full of class rooms, laboratories, workshops, offices, museums and dormitories, with some parks and entertainment. This includes Gollwin Academy, which is the primary training center for Spacefleet and Star Law.
Agriculture stations proves food to worlds that cannot grow them on their own. Most ships and stations do not have room to grow food, so they are generally reliant on "Ag stations" to keep their food stores restocked. Most Ag-stations use hydroponics to cut down on the space and time needed to grow the food, although, some may specialize in maintaining isolated ecosystems. In this type of station, much of the internal space is open fields full of flora and fauna.
Commerce stations are like cities in space, but with a focus on interstellar trade. They are a mix of commercial and residential zones, with areas for transport (warehouses and customs) and entertainment (as below). They may have other areas, but those are usually marginal.
Some of the larger commercial stations have facilities for docking even the largest freighters, as the loading and unloading of cargo from starships to landers and vice-versa is the station's primary purpose of existence.
Extremely rare, space stations that focus solely on entertainment range from family-friendly amusement parks to centers of adults-only entertainment. They are mostly resorts and recreation areas, with living areas for staff. Recreation areas can include arcades, casinos, dance clubs, sports arenas/stadiums, theaters, studios, rides, restaurants, parades/festivals, brothels/vice dens, zoos and more. Recreational drug-use and/or prostitution may not be legal an all worlds, but when they are, they are usually segregated outside the general populace.
In form, most of these stations are similar to "pirate stations" in that they are repurposed mined-out asteroids, but the rare Class-1 dedicated station does exist.
A Factory station is dedicated to the assembly and fabrication of both high-tech components and the assembly of finished goods. They include workshops, assembly lines and warehouses. This center may even cross into mining (see below) with regards to receiving stations and ore prepossessing (although, this is usually handled at the site of extraction).
A mining station can take the form of a hollowed-out asteroid or a major receiving station for ore. Since they are dedicated to industry, and usually handle dangerous elements, they generally lack any residential areas, save for some basic quarters and common areas for the workers.
Military stations serve as the the base of operations of the UPF Spacefleet. Corporations and militia have military bases on stations, but they also serve as centers for commerce and civilian residence. A dedicated military station (a Fortress or Fortified Station) would have everything you would expect form a military base: barracks, training halls, armories, offices, etc. Entertainment is generally spartan as personal are expected to entertain themselves on leave. Civilians are restricted from entering the station unless they are given clearance, and even so, most areas would be off-limits. On an Armed Station, areas reserved for corporate security or the militia would have have the same level of restrictions.
Ship Construction CentersEdit
Ship Construction Centers are specialized for the construction, maintenance, modification and repair of starships and spaceships. Like mining stations, Ship Construction Centers are dedicated to pure industry, so they lack areas you'll expect form a station of commerce
(Knight Hawks Expanded Rulebook pp. 4-5)
Space stations are different from space ships, as they have no means of propulsion. Instead, they are constructed in orbit around a planet, and stay there through their entire service. Space stations vary widely in size and cost. Most spin so that centrifugal force will simulate gravity around the station's outer rim. It is not uncommon for a station to have a population of several thousand more or less permanent residents.
Space stations are used as docking centers for all other types of spaceships. Starships and large system ships cannot land on planets, so they transfer cargo and passengers while docked at space stations. Shuttles are used to transport goods and passengers between the station and the planet's surface. Larger stations carry large quantities of supplies that are loaded onto ships as they are needed.
The docking bay of a space station is located at the "hub" of the circle. There is no centrifugal force, and hence no gravity, in the docking bay, so ships can gently connect to the ports leading to the interior of the station. The "spokes" of the circle usually contain elevator shafts which ferry individuals and goods to the station rim. As the elevators travel toward the rim, the feeling of gravity inside the elevator increases until, at the rim, it is the equivalent of about 1 g.
The rim of a commerce station contains all of the stores, restaurants, taverns, nightclubs, theatres and other businesses common in a bustling city. The rim is divided into several decks. The upper decks - those closest to the hub - contain living quarters similar to apartments and hotel rooms, where characters can stay during a visit to the station. Above the lodging decks are the administrative offices of the station.
Larger stations store many supplies that are loaded onto spaceships as they are purchased. The supply storage area usually is near the hub, where large, massive objects and crates can be moved easily through the low gravity.
Military stations are organized about the same as other stations, with a docking bay in the center and recreational facilities along the rims. The docking bays are often very large, however, and missile launchers and weapon batteries are mounted along the rim for defense.
Some space stations are designed solely to be centers for spaceship construction, as research laboratories or as areas for food production. More details on these special purposes are given later in these rules, in the section on Optional Spaceship Equipment.
Docking at Space Stations
(Knight Hawks Expanded Rulebook pp. 32-3)
Docking at space stations is a much more common procedure for most spaceships than landing on planets. Docking is a safe and routine procedure, but may take some time.
The docking area of a space station is at the station's hub: the center of the "wheel." Docking at the rim would be very difficult, because of the station's rotation. Also, there is no gravity at the station's center.
The docking bay in the center of the station is a large, open area with openings to space at either end. A ship intending to dock must approach the station slowly and position itself out side the docking bay. Then, the ship's pilot uses maneuver jets to make the ship rotate at exactly the same rate as the station. As an example, a hull size 5 station (1 km in diameter) rotates once every 40 seconds (1.33 RPM) to generate 1g at the rim.
To find out how long it takes a pilot to position his ship and match the station's rotation, the player rolls 1d10 and adds the hull size of his ship to the result. The pilot's skill level is subtracted from this sum, and the final result is the number of minutes necessary to establish the docking rotation.
Once the rotation of ship and station are matched, it is a simple matter for the ship to ease forward into the docking bay and slowly settle to one wall. Airlocks will extend to the hatches of the ship, allowing crew members to enter the pressurized environment of the station.
(Knight Hawks Expanded Rulebook pp. 34)
Space stations spin rapidly so that centrifugal force will simulate gravity along their outer rims. This "gravity" is strongest at the rim of the station, and gradually drops to nothing at the center (hub) of the station.
A station's rim and hub are connected by elevators that run through the "spokes" of the wheel. These elevators are adjacent to the airlocks that open into the docking bay. As the elevator moves toward the rim of the station, the gravity gradually increases until it reaches about 1g at the rim.
Stations usually have several levels of decks along their rims. The gravity is strongest on the deck farthest from the hub, but the change from deck to deck is barely noticeable. The gravity does not become significantly lower until characters approach the zero gravity region near the hub.
UPF Spacefleet Fortresses
Fortress stations serve as the base of operation with the UPF Fleets, and are the primary defense on major Frontiers worlds.
There are four UPF Fortresses:
- UPFB Fortress Kdikit (Madderly's Star)
- UPFB Fortress Redoubt (Clarion, White Light)
- UPFB Fortress Gollwin (Morgaine's World, Prenglar)
- UPFB Fortress Pale (Truane's Star)
Fortified space stations serve as outposts on UPF-member worlds, and are owned by the UPF Spacefleet. They are commercial stations retrofitted to be Fortresses, but do to limitations with civilian designs, they are not as strong as a true Fortress station.
There are four Fortified UPF Space Stations:
- UPFB Minotaur Station (Theseus)
- UPFB Ken’Zah Station (K’aken-Kar)
- UPFB Hentz Station (Araks)
- UPFB Gran Quivera Station (Prenglar)
Armed space stations are civilian space stations (generally commercial in nature), but with a military presence. They are usually owned by the local planetary government or a major corporation. They serve as the base of operations for a militia fleet or corporate security fleet.
These are the known Armed Stations in the Frontier:
- Clarion Station (White Light)
- Darkworld Station (Outer Reach, Dramune)
- Groth Station (Fromeltar)
- Hargut Station (Gruna Garu)
- Inner Reach Station (Dramune)
- Kawdl Station (K'tsa Kar)
- Lossend Station (Timeon)
- New Pale Station (Truane's Star)
- Rupert’s Hole Station (Cassidine)
- Triad Station (Cassidine)
- Kikit Station (Kizk'-Kar)
Commercial space stations are generally unarmed stations that serve one or more roles (commerce, mining, entertainment, etc.) and can take many forms.
They usually rely on another station for defense (armed, fortified or Fortress stations), and during a planetary siege, they are usually the first to be destroyed. The Sathar are well-known for destroying unarmed and occupied stations.
These are the known Commercial Stations in the Frontier:
- Androgeus Station (Class IV/4 Commercial Station) (Minotaur, Theseus)
- UPFB Doliin Bay (K'tsa Kar, destroyed)
- Snobol Station (Venturi, Belnafaer; owned by the ByChem Corporation)
- Planaron Pirate Base (Clarion (Gollywog); owned by the Pirates of Planaron)
- PGSS Miner's Central (Volturnus; owned by the Pan-Galactic Corporation)
Notes, Links & References
- ↑ The list of other possibilities includes moons, dwarf planets, planetoids, asteroids, comets or even other space stations.
- ↑ Most commonly the L1 point between a planet and its moon or a planet and the system's star, but also in other positions in the planetary or stellar system.
- ↑ Artificial Stations are equipped with station-keeping maneuvering thrusters that permit them to compensate for any instability in their orbit, but do not provide enough thrust to actually transit on their own. When such a move is needed, specialized tugs are used.
- ↑ Or whatever g rating is chosen for the station. Stations rarely exceed 2 RPM, to reduce possible dizziness and the Coriolis effect. Most often, the rotation of a large station is determined by the gravity of the nearby planet, while smaller stations determine gravity by their rotation of two RPM or less.