Space Exploration adds six new science packs to Factorio's technological progression:
- Rocket science packs replace the vanilla space science packs; they are the entry-level space science packs required for more advanced scientific pursuits.
- The four specialist science packs correspond to a scientific field; each comes in four tiers and has its own manufacturing challenges:
- Astronomic science packs enable research of technologies relating to space travel and interstellar logistics.
- Biological science packs enable research of technologies relating to bio-augmentation, bio-weapons and neural processing.
- Energy science packs enable research of technologies relating to the fundamental forces and subatomic discoveries.
- Material science packs enable research of technologies relating to advanced materials and engineering.
- Deep space science packs enable researching end-game technology, and require mastery of all four specialist sciences before manufacturing becomes possible. They also come in four tiers.
Space science is largely data-driven beyond rocket science, requiring dedicated infrastructure for cataloguing, analysis, and recycling of data and the cards used to store it.
Specialist Science Packs
The 4 advanced space sciences follow a similar structure, though each has their own challenges:
- A space structure runs an experiment, requiring Blank Data Cards and other materials as input.
- If the experiment succeeds it produces a card with the results encoded on it, often producing byproducts or returning a percentage of the raw materials.
- Data cards with experimental results are collected from the various experiments, creating a catalogue of a certain tier.
- Catalogues are analyzed in the Supercomputer for Insights, returning Blank Data Cards.
- Insights are analyzed in the Supercomputer for Significant Data, returning Blank Data Cards.
- The science pack is created in the Manufactory, requiring Catalogues, Insights, and Significant Data.
Note that in step 2, some experiments can fail and produce junk data (or fail catastrophically and produce broken data cards!), requiring them to be recycled. In step 4, Insights can be produced at a better rate by combining different tiers of catalogues *within* the same space science, while in step 5 Significant data can be produced more efficiently by combining Insights from *different* space sciences.
Each specialist science and deep space science have 4 tiers, each with their own form of catalog and science pack. Each tier builds on the previous ones (i.e. tier 2 pack recipes require tier 1 packs, etc.). For the specialist sciences, the player gains access to tier 1 upon reaching space. The remaining 3 tiers must be researched.
The tier system only applies to catalogs and science packs. Insight and significant data do not have tiers and thus the same recipe can be used for all 4 science packs. However, researching higher science tiers unlocks higher yield recipes for these two items. These new recipes generally require higher tier catalogs.