Once a colony starts getting developed, there starts being a demand for orbital infrastructure. A communications satellite, weather tracking, orbital security and traffic management. Instead of deploying multiple pieces of infrastructure to do all of this, most smaller colonies go with a single all-in-one station that provides all of these services, as well as some orbital maintenance capabilities to support additional infrastructure as needed.
Depending on the firm manufacturing the station, it might be known as a Leuchtturm-Class, Anker-Class, or Wegesiser-Class. While all three models have different focuses (the Anker is generally better for industrial support, as an example), they all provide a basic set of services that make them attractive to colonies on a budget. One of the reasons for their low cost is their form factor. Unlike larger space stations, they are instead designed as a series of modules based on the standard NF-8000 series space shipping container. That means that they can be mass produced centrally, then shipped to the final consumer via normal space freighter. Once delivered, the two modules are locked together, and any external components (sensor booms, communications arrays, etc) are removed from the shuttle bay and installed in pre-existing sockets.
The most common (and smallest) is the “two can” version, seen above. With a crew compliment that can range from 22 to 42 depending on duties, the basic can station provides basic orbital traffic and customs control, as well as basic communications and orbital mapping duties. While not much to look at, for most colonies it’s the first orbital asset that they can truly call their own.
This doodle came about as I was thinking about other orbital assets that smaller colonies would have. While some places would have more substantial orbital assets, even a small colony would benefit from having something in orbit, and corporations would want one almost as a matter of course (what better way to stake your claim than having it being enforced from the local high ground?) But they would still try to keep costs down, and what’s one thing that everyone re-uses for prefabbed buildings? Containers. Good thing my universe makes use of these larger “standard” containers. They’re pretty much perfect for this kind of work.