Sketches – Sol 4: TABK Yards

By the time the Terran Commonwealth was something more than just a pipe dream in the halls of power, the local sphere of space around Earth was packed with orbital workshacks, habitation stations, power beam arrays, and an ever increasing layer of debris that persistently increased despite the best attempts of everyone to keep it in check.

The discovery of the drive field and the warp points that unlocked interstellar travel put an unsustainable amount of pressure on the smaller yards that existed throughout Sol. The yards above Earth were backlogged with years of work, and the smaller maintenance yards at Ceres and Callisto were hard pressed to accommodate their contracted work, never mind expansion or additional jobs. The demand was there, and sustainable enough to be more than a flash in the pan. And industry was not willing to let that much profit slip by.

The yards themselves were initially a joint project between Thyssen-Krupp and Aérospatiale. The former had the raw industrial muscle for large scale construction and experience with technologically complex products. The latter had the design and manufacturing experience for aerospace and deep space projects. Neither could do everything in-house, but together they would be in a position to establish a “steel to spaceship” production facility. This would be the first of its kind; the yards in Earth orbit relied on deliveries of structural materials and precision subcomponents from Luna and Earthside respectively. The repair yards could (and did) work miracles with what they had, but in both cases they merely did assembly and testing. The joint yards would be a true production center in every sense of the word.

Mars orbit was the easiest part of the project. Compared to the Earth sphere, it was comparatively clean, it offered (marginally) easier access to raw materials, and most critically was currently running substantial tax incentives for industrial development (several Martian governments would struggle with various “tax scandals” that stemmed from these incentives). The ease of material access wasn’t so much a case of boosting resources up from Mars, but that the empty orbital volume made long-distance resource deliveries substantially safer, as deliveries didn’t have to be scheduled to come through limited orbital windows.

While there were teething troubles and challenges, the basic facility (now known as the TAK Yards) proved to be an effective moneyspinner. On-site design, fabrication and assembly drove costs down by orders of magnitude. So success drove success, and the yards were expanded time and again. In only 50 years, it had grown large enough that its nearest orbital neighbor had to be disassembled. Deimos found itself broken up and fed to its artificial neighbor in an act of stellar butchery. But that was barely a blip in the demands the yards had.

Boeing’s addition came years later in the latter half of the good times of the Terran Commonwealth. Needing more production capacity, they brought their own expertise and finances and added even more capacity to the TAK Yards, now renamed TABK Yards due to their own financial contributions. Already a massive complex, the yards continued to grow as more and more fabrication plants, assembly bays and fitting slips were added.

Unlike many other critical industrial facilities (like the drive core design and production facility on Luna) the TABK Yards survived the early phases of the collapse war almost intact. The vast majority of the yards were devoted to civilian production until almost every other functional yard had been turned into scrap, leaving it as the sole production site for starships in Sol. Fortunately, the heirs of the long-dead designers had continued the “one stop” philosophy of the TABK yards, meaning that all it needed was the raw resources to continue to function. Even if the operators didn’t quite know how everything went together.

When the Terran Dominion rose from the ashes, the TABK yard was the cornerstone of their militarization.

It’s worth noting that Aérospatiale has in the real world been merged (mostly) into the Airbus Multinational. Here, it’s been broken out as a new division name primarily concerned with aerospace technologies. It’s still backed by and is a part of Airbus (likely taking over the position currently held by Airbus Defense and Space), but as space tech is now such a big part of the setting, it gets to be its “own brand” and not just a smaller subsidiary branch.

Also, I admit I just wanted the acronym to work.

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