Sketches – Civilian Orbital Station

Civilian orbital infrastructure is common in deWulf space, and this orbital station is one of the more common designs seen. A smaller multipurpose station, it offers both passenger and cargo management capabilities as well as a larger domed concourse area. Six arms branch out from the upper level, providing enhanced docking space for ships as well as the ability to moor even the largest ships at the pier ends. Beneath the central concourse is an extended cargo and engineering section. Several stations have an extended cargo section, affording extra space not just for cargo transshipment, but manufacturing and long-term residential spaces. The above design specifically is the Egon Gruzelier Memorial Highport, in orbit over Dave’s World

While structurally suspect, architects and users agree that the dome offers substantial psychological benefits, providing a welcome “open spaces” feeling that becomes sorely missed by starfarers. Most stations of this design tend to make the central dome a park to maximize these benefits, ringing the outer wall with various retail establishments (that of course pay a premium to be located “parkside”). Other stations transform the space into an outdoor “zocalo” with winding alleys and shops under a perpetually starry night. One station in Falke even turned their dome into a simulated beachfront.

Beneath the main dome is the station’s industrial array. The first level is universally the support core of the station: Life support, power, maintenance and engineering. Below that the industrial array extends down several levels. Each level either filled with space for warehousing cargo, or industrial manufacturing to serve needs on-station or for visiting traffic. Sometimes passing ships would sell wares right on the cargo dock, making station management having to deal with a steady flow of traffic from the passenger levels above.

Each station featured six concourses that extended out from the main habitation dome, giving additional docking space for more passenger ships. Generally styled like more conventional transit ports planetside, the concourse was a secure space accessible only by actual passengers and various station personnel that required access. For actual docking, the concourses have smaller piers that extended out to provide the actual docking connections to visiting ships, though some especially large ships would dock directly to the concourse at the end opposite the dome.

While the main dome and surrounding spaces are designed for longer term use and inhabitation, the concourses are geared towards passing traffic and servicing their needs. As a result, there is a concentration of gift shops, utility retailers, and food stalls. What landscaping and common spaces that exist are geared towards handling a large number of transient visitors as opposed to providing spaces for people to relax and enjoy.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the seed for this idea was when I was travelling back from Gencon one year, and as such I was stuck at one airport or another. One gets inspired by the environment you’re in, I suppose!

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