A space exploration story
Chapter 1: Where am I?
I was awoken by the loud bang. Parts of my former spaceship were exploding around me. The spaceship was an unrecognizable scattering of burning debris.
How did I get here? My memory must be damaged. I vaguely recalled a mysterious spatial anomaly, some explosion, the ship running out fuel, then setting a course for the nearest planet with acceptable resources.
This planet seemed a reasonable crash site. All I could remember from the ship log was that this planet was called Nauvis, and it orbited a star called Calidus.
I hastily salvaged what I could from the ship. A little too hasty, perhaps I should have waited to the fire to stop as I singed myself a little in the process. I didn’t find much of value, just a few of basics.
Not one to dawdle, I set upon the monumental tasks of returning to the stars. How long could it possibly take to get from the stone age to the interstellar age? Well let’s see...
Automation would be the key. I set up some crude machines to do mining for me. Initially everything was powered directly by burning coal and wood.
The mining outpost was quickly becoming a small factory. I managed to get a crude electrical system set up so I didn’t need to transport coal everywhere.
I soon ran into the natives, a very hostile bug-like species I’d seen before. Unfortunately they seemed to have already infested this world and were were competing for space. Some mining drills were the target of their aggression, defenses were needed.
I needed more resources but they were so far away I decided to build my own rail network so I would have access to all of the resources I could ever need.
I finally started the construction of the first rocket. Not one for me, but for a navigation satellite.
The satellite was launched! A momentous milestone indeed, but let’s not celebrate victory too quickly, this is just the beginning.
Chapter 2: A foot in the rocket.
I could use the satellite uplink to look around with a bird’s-eye view. Great for scouting but better yet, I could send remote data commands to change signals and settings in my base from anywhere.
The satellite discovered a moon called Cadmus. I used the satellite uplink to take a look at the surface in detail. It was a desert planet, almost no vegetation at all, but swarming with more of these bug-like creatures. Nauvis is not the friendliest of places, but this is practically a biter-death-moon.
The satellite had also spotted some space platform in orbit around Nauvis. I used the satellite uplink again, it was an old research satellite that had never deployed properly. The data it contained would go a long way to advancing my efforts.
I immediately began work on a rocket capable of getting me and some cargo into space. It was nearly twice the size of the satellite rocket but could carry over a hundred times more. Most importantly, it could carry me.
The cargo rocket was completed quickly. I gathered a few things that I thought I’d need in space and filled the rocket with them. Mostly raw resources, solar panels, and all the science packs I could find. I hopped aboard and blasted of into space. Destination: Nauvis Orbit.
The rocket survived the short trip and successfully deployed the cargo modules. The rest of the rocket fragmented harmlessly. Perhaps I could reuse some of those parts later? Never mind for now, I can research that later.
I hopped out of the space capsule and floated around. I never get over how fun it is to do spacewalks.
By chance, I had landed near the space platform. There was a lot of research material there. I set up a space lab and set it to work on the research that I couldn't do on the ground. Powering the lab was a struggle, I had lots of solar panels but ran out of scaffold to anchor them too. I cleared space for only the essentials, solar panels, the lab, and of course a rocket landing pad. Without the landing pad I couldn't rely on future rockets getting to the same location, or getting their with their cargo intact.
It didn’t take long to run out of things to do in space. Back to the space capsule, and back to Nauvis.
Construction of the 2nd cargo rocket was under way. The space lab was going a great job processing through the material I’d left it and would be satisfied for a while. The next rocket would allow me to get some real infrastructure established up there.
I packed the rocket full of raw materials and barreled fluids. Everything I thought I’d need to get some real data-driven science done. Blast off the Nauvis orbit again.
Chapter 3: Space Station 1
Now begins the serious construction of space platform. I placed the remaining solar panels I couldn’t use last time and and began a vast expanse of scaffold to build my space base. It was all masterfully planned, until I got up there and realised I didn’t have enough water or heat shielding. I thought I knew what I was doing, but frankly it was a mess of pipes, solar panels, and thermal radiators.
For some reason I thought that making a rush for spaceship was a good idea and went for astronomical science first. Perhaps that was a mistake, smashing some materials would certainly have been easier. Somehow I managed to eek out enough astronomical science to research space solar panels. That made all the difference for power so maybe it was worth it.
I used the satellite uplink again to change what was being put into the next rocket on the ground. How did I ever live without this thing?
My current research setup was not efficient. I knew I needed to either diversify into multiple space sciences to get more significant data, or go deeper into astronomical science and get more insights that way. I decided to go for material science first and get the benefits of multidisciplinary simulation. That made all the difference and soon everything was ticking along quite nicely.
Some of my Nauvis resource depots were running low. Before heading down I placed a signal transmitter in orbit and linked it to the logistics item data. Then I landed on Nauvis and linked a signal receiver to the logistic requesters so that they could automatically send up items that the space station needs.
Back on the surface I set up some new mining outposts and also decided to mine some of the planet core. Planet core mining is not energy efficient and the output is low, but I had excess solar power and the resources are endless, it all adds up eventually.
I got back to the rocket launch pad as a rocket was taking off automatically. I just managed to jump on before it was too far in the launch sequence and rode back into space.
Something went wrong with the rocket and it didn’t make it to the landing pad. Bits of rocket and cargo pods went all over the place just outside the space station’s root network. I extended the network and got the robots to clean things up, then quickly switched research to rocket survivability. I didn't lose too many resources in the crash, less than the cost of the research, but the hassle of clean up and strain on the robot network was something I wanted to avoid in the future.
Biosludge was beginning to build up from the decontamination facilities. I decided to try a bit of biological science, because, why not? Biosludge is a part of that system and it makes sense to use it, right? Well I thought the astronomical science was tricky, but that was largely due to starting with nothing. Biological research was by far the most difficult, mostly because I used the first resources badly by not setting limits.
Chapter 3: Moon Base
Iron was becoming a problem. The next place on Nauvis to get iron was deep in enemy territory.
I kept looking at the moon, Cadmus. There was a lot of hostile activity there, but there was a clearing in the center with a huge iron deposit. The moon in general seemed very rich in iron.
I had most of a rocket ready to go, and an abundance of rocket fuel. I changed the next rocket’s destination to Cadmus and collected things I’d need for a moon base. Most of the stuff I took ended up being things reclaimed from depleted mining outposts and spares that my base had made for repairs. I jumped aboard the rocket, double checked I had all the essentials, and launched.
The moon landing went well. I was worried that I’d land in an enemy nest but fortunately it was within a safe clearing.
Setting up the moon base felt very rushed. I had much more than when I’d first landed on Nauvis, but somehow scouting the enemy locations by satellite first made things more tense. Maybe it was just the perspective, but I was sure the bugs were bigger here.
I set up coal mining first to fuel a basic electricity generation to power my lasers. Once a safe perimeter has been established I started more mining and bot-based assembly setup. The little moon had such little coal that the initial deposits only lasted a few minutes. Fortunately the planet had a surprising abundance of oil, so I quickly switched to solid fuel.
I placed down the rocket launch pad, landing pad core miner so that once the assembly base had made everything it needed for repairs if could start loading up rockets and sending resources wherever they were needed.
The plan had been to send a 2nd rocket with the rocket parts required for me to return to Nauvis. An enemy attack on a mining outpost meant that it would take a very long time. Although I could have waited it out and kept developing Cadmus I know that Nauvis needed attention of more outposts would fall. Oh look there’s a red button here that says “Respawn” …
Coincidentally at the same as the first character died, another one landed on Nauvis that happened to have the same name and general disposition. Maybe they came through the anomaly too?
I (the 2nd character) defended the outposts, got the Nauvis base back in order, and took the next rocket to the space station.
Chapter 4: Spaceships
Finally, Spaceships had been researched.
I built the smallest ship I could, made sure it was contained and structurally sound. Once the integrity check passed I found I could have built a little bigger, but what I had seemed fine for now. It named itself “Harrier” and I decided to keep the name.
There was very little rocket fuel on the space station so I decided to land first on Nauvis and collect some fuel. Once refueled, I launched from Nauvis. Doing so used up most of the fuel, but I still had more left than I had when I left the space station.
I set the distionation to Cadmus: Engage. My little ship was terrible. Any time the lasers fired the engines stalled. At max speed it should have taken just over a minute to get to Cadmus, but with all the stalls it took 10 minutes. The upside of the slow speed was that it was a safe journey, no space rocks got anywhere near the forward bulkhead.
While flying from Nauvis to Cadmus I used the uplink to order the Cadmus bots to prepare a rocket fuel refueling station. It was ready by the time I landed and immediately started refueling.
The next spaceship integrity upgrade had just finished so I started expanding the ship with the spares. This required more fuel, but it would mean a more consistent ride back. I loaded the ship up with iron and launched back into space.
The flight back to Nauvis took less than half the time. I dropped off the iron and fixed a few things that had broken.
It was time to start exploring more of this system. I removed the restrictions I had placed on the satellite rocket silo so it was free to send satellites up automatically.
It wasn't long before I had discovered another planet around Calidus called Furion.
Furion was a lava planet with some large seas. After scouting with the satellite for awhile I found some strange red grass and yellow flowers clinging to a coast line, but over 99% of the land was volcanic terrain. The planet had very few bugs, there were some on a small islands, but a large continent was completely clear. It seemed to have a lot of copper, iron, and stone, but almost no oil or coal. I knew that if I landed there refueling would be a problem.
Chapter 5: Interplanetary
The ship is larger now. The space solar panels and improved accumulators make going from planet to planet easier. I can’t land it on Furion unless I already have enough fuel to take off again, and I never do.
The Furion colony is thriving, but needs to be sent rocket fuel in order to export anything.
The Calidus colony is exporting iron and rocket fuel, but is struggling under constant enemy attacks.
The Nauvis colony has stagnated a little. Things main base is still tick along, but there are depleted mining outposts left abandoned.
The Calidus asteroid belt was discovered and it has a lot of resources. A mining base is there extracting resources. It is one of the best sources of iron copper and stone right now, but it doesn’t seem like a great science base location because so many fluids would need to be imported and it is so far away from the sun that the solar is low. It will have to stay as a mining base.
2 moons around Furion were discovered, one was mostly a water moon, the other is volcanic and desert with sparse trees and an abundance of coal.
A third planet around Calidus was found, Raegis, with 4 moons discovered so far.
A few stars and asteroid fields have been discovered. The closest by far is Teamagus. I think it might be close enough to get to if I make a few upgrades to the ship.
Chapter 6: Interstellar
The ship is now nuclear-powered beast. It has a train on board so I can land to link with a train network to roll on or off cargo.
The Nauvis space station and Calidus belt station have train stations too, but it is mainly just for loading and unloading at this point.
I don’t know when, but at some point the ship has called itself the Pheasant. It is a silly name, but I like it.
Teamagus, the closest star I’ve found is supposed to be 7 minutes away at the new ship’s max speed. I know that solar power is lower further away from stars so I’m not counting on that for interstellar space.
I have been doing some trips between planets for fun, just testing speed, how long the fuel and power will last. Also how long will the water last? The condenser turbines save a lot of water but I need enough for a long interstellar journey. It’s not just the best-case 7 minutes there, it’s the added power string from the lasers, the time spent exploring the system, and of course the trip back.
I head out for Teamagus, keeping eye on the power grid. I watch the solar output gradually drop to near zero, but it’s fine the nuclear setup is holding strong.
I quickly get comfortable about the interstellar voyage and start checking things with the satellite uplink, but then...
About 5 minutes in things start going wrong. The power output drops suddenly and the lasers struggle. Before I can get to the spaceship console to slow down a rock smashes through one of my laser banks. The ship stops.
I make repairs and diagnose the power problem. The water system get flooded and turbines couldn’t run. Soon back on track and speeding along. I reach Teamagus in about 10 minutes total travel time. Not bad.
I start setting up my first interstellar colony on a planet called Thule. Maybe I should be better at this by now, but every planet seems to be different and has its own challenges. This one has high copper and oil, the core fragments are copper. The iron, stone and coal are low, but not so low as to cause a serious problem.
I set up a self-sufficient colony on the planet that I can manage remotely before heading back to Calidus. The return trip takes roughly the 7 minutes estimated.
Chapter 7: Foenestra
A satellite just discovered the anomaly. The place where this all started. It is estimated to be about 40 minutes away, a long journey but I must get back there for my journey to be complete.
I load up some more fuel and head out, not knowing what I will find.
I soon start experiencing spatial distortions. Space is getting weird...