A while ago I asked a question concerning a plausible Room Temperature Superconductor. This question is about the on site industry needed to support a significant extraction and logistics afford.

About 100 years ago, in 2200, the IRDG (Interstellar Resource Development Group, a multinational company oversee by the IDPA, Interstellar Development and Preservation Authority, tasked with supplying Petramene to a list of "member states" which pay the IDPA a literal ton of money to fund the IRDG. The IRDG is not expected to make money, just supply Petramene, the RTS.) landed on the exoplanet Hela. Hela is younger than Earth which is why she still has vast Trivesene deposits underneath her oceans. Trivesene being the primary compound needed to make Petramene.

The IRDGs primary objective is to supply Petramene to the member states, for a token price (10€/kg). For this they need to maintain a interstellar supply chain which starts by extracting Trivesene, converting it to Petramene, shooting it into Orbit and then to Earth.

Petramene is send back to Earth using light sails at around 0.1c. The ITS´s (Interstellar Transport System) Slow Lane. Personal and new Hardware is using the Fast lane at ~0.5c. Every day 3-4 Light Sail ICVs (Interstellar Cargo Vehicle) departure caring 500 Tons of Petramene. While every 6 Months one ITV (Interstellar Transport Vehicle) lands and launches, caring up to 512 personal and 20000 Tons of cargo.

Fundamental Requirements

From the above, we can already make a few assumptions about the operational scale at hand. Specifically what sort of capability Leavenworth as the main base of operations on Hela needs;

  • Infrastructure to build and support large extraction platforms, think Troll, Ships as well as various other types of machinery like DSVs

  • Significant Chemical production capability for refining Trivesene and making other components.

  • Infrastructure to keep a fleet of 60+ plane SSTOs operational, as those carry the ~600.000 tons of Petramene to orbit annually.

  • Infrastructure to maintain the various orbital assets, including the capability to make fuel for the ITVs, in this case around 600k Tons of bomblets.

  • Industry to maintain, build and operate the various support vehicles like trains, helicopters, ships, rockets and spaceships.

  • Infrastructure for the on site personal numbering in the 1000s.

What i have thus far

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This is Leavenworth´s rough layout (1 pixel = 1 meter). The size of all facilities is loosely based on real world equivalents. Naturally a lot of the design philosophy for such compounds does not translate to Hela, due to the differing atmosphere. The general goal was to make sure you dont have to go through decontamination within a single facility. This is just Leavenworth, and ill try to give a breakdown of the total infrastructure available to the IRDG, as quickly as possible;

  • Antimatter Factory; ITVs are Project Orion type vessels which use antimatter catalyzation for their bomblets. Each ship needs about 0.5-2 kg per flight.

  • NPP; For a stable energy supply as solar is iffy in the region they are in.

  • Water Purification Plant; A lot of industrial processes need water. Leavenworth gets her water from the nearby Pantoran river via pipeline.

  • Petrochemical Plant; A Petrochemical Plant can produce chemicals such as solvents, basis of plastics etc. From what i understand it is the foundation further processes.

  • Modular Chemical Plant; The MCP is, in my conception, a generalized Plant which can be reconfigured for a given process. Similar to how you might use glass wear to make a distillation setup. You lose efficiency, but gain capability.

  • Petramene Plant; This is an example of what a dedicated plant might look like. Its huge and only does one thing. Take liquid Trivesene and turn it into solid Petramene bars.

  • Metallic Hydrogen Plant; Metallic Hydrogen, is the fuel used by SSTOs and rockets. My math indicates an SSTO needs to carry its payloads weight in fuel to reach orbit, so roughly 40 tons.

  • Aerospace Plant; This is where we see the SSTO production line, Helicopters and other vehicles including Rockets. This might also serve double duty for composites.

  • Semiconductor Plant; I think this is fairly straight forward.

  • Arms Plant; The reason this plant is hopelessly oversized is because it used to make Bombs and Missiles due to for this discussion irrelevant historical context. These days it double serves as a tooling plant to make machines.

  • Secondary Manufacturing Plant; Here we see primary production, such as metal sheets, being turned into useful stuff like machines or a Cola Can.

  • Steel Mill; This is part of Leavenworths primary production cycle, Iron ore is taken in to make steel sheets. Though other processes are included as well, such as Aluminum production.

  • Concrete Plant; The entire facility is by weight mostly concrete which has to come from somewhere. The plant is also part of the primary production loop as is indicated by the rail tracks.

  • Electronic Parts Plant; A single Semiconductor does not make a computer, or socket. This plant would take say plastic from the Petrochemical plant, cooper or Metallic Petramene from their respective plants and maybe a few semiconductors to idk make a relay ? They are not building iPhones but more basic parts.

  • Pharmaceutical Facility; Big Pharma has gone interstellar. In order for our immune systems to not nuke ourselves in the sterile environment, or in reaction to alien pathogens, this plant produces Med´s cooked up on Earth.

  • Cultivation Plant; This is where the Culture War is cooked up food is produced. The idea is they have genetically modified fast growing crops and 3D printers which can make food.

To cap of the ground side of operations, there are the two locations connected to Leavenworth by rail.

  • Pantoran River Mine; North-East the track splits in two. Water pipelines head east for ~20 kilometers towards the Pantoran River. Two tracks go further North-East upstream some 200 kilometers towards a Mine. The Mine is so remote because it is a pretty unique geographic location which offers basically all raw resources they need. From easy Iron, Cooper Ore and Aluminum oxide to nice fine river sand for concrete and semiconductors. It also produces Uranium or the NPP.

  • James Collins Shipyard; The JCS is about 15 km North-West right next to the Besselian Ocean, where all offshore activity takes place. From the offshore installations they get Hydrocarbons and other junk. Their rocket launch site is also near the JCS.

Finally, the orbital infrastructure.

  • Grootje EUVD Lithography Plant; A EUVD Lithograph (Extreme Ultraviolet Vapor Deposition) is a machine which can produce both small and big structures using either Ultraviolet Lithography, Vapor deposition or both. Grootje ("Big little one"), was initially used by the IRDG to set up industry, and nowadays builds the Bomblets for ITVs. The plant gets its resources from an Asteroid. I should note, in world EUVD Lithographs are not universal printers, and they are kind of garbage for most tasks. Grootje has also been at it for nearly 100 years.

  • Perseverance OLC; Finally, there is a Space station which serves as a orbital logistics center. This is where they patch up ships.

But what is missing ?

While working on this, i mostly got what i was aiming for, a sense of "industry" and how involved this would be. Both in terms of resources and physical scale. Leavenworth is huge, around 50 km², and very dense in terms of industry. Not to mention, in keeping with this sites recent obsession, i got to include Trains.

However, i also cant shake the feeling i am missing something obvious here. Either in terms of my approach towards what industry is needed on the ground, or in me failing to include some vital hardware.

I am aiming for a Hard ish setting. Getting Project Orion to 0.5c is... optimistic and obviously neither Petramene nor Trivesene are things which could exist. Which is fine, the story is hardly about those. But i do think it is important to accurately convey the scale of such an undertaking. Also be aware, the IRDG is not fighting any insurgency or similar, the base is protected by a questionable fence. The weather is a far bigger issue than any creatures.

So the core question is, well what am i missing in terms of on site industry considering the task at hand ?

A related, but secondary, question is if the presented industry makes sense given the task at hand. Note, this is not a settlement afford. Though they do plan to build a 2nd base partially because the Weather keeps shutting down their air traffic and people back on Earth want slightly more Petramene, approximately 10x more.


So, this is pretty lengthy and i tried to compress stuff as much as possible. While this question certainly touches many individual subjects, i hope i have limited it to the industrial side enough.

Thanks for reading, and have a nice day !

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Doing a review of such a complicated supply chain as an interstellar mining operation is too broad a task for a single question on this site. As is stated in the help center "if your question could be answered by an entire book, or has many valid answers, it's probably too broad for our format. [...] Please add details to narrow down the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs." $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Nov 1 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings I agree that the theoretical scope is large. However my question is concerning aspects i have missed, rather than a full on review which is outside the scope of any of us $\endgroup$
    – ErikHall
    Nov 1 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ The Socialist Republic of Romania had over 20,000,000 people and it was not self-sufficient. You are missing almost all necessary industries; the tiny sample listed in the question is so far from "self-sufficient" it's humorous. Just a random selection of missing stuff noticeable at the first reading: thread and fabrics; underwear and clothes in general; shoes; toilet paper and writing paper; ink; wire, including electric wire; piping; needles; pens and pencils; lamps; furniture; plumbing; appliances; computers and peripherals; glass; booze; entertainment. VTC as asking for a thick tome. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 1 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP To be fair, the OP's question in the title stipulates "Largely" self sufficient. I would assume normal incoming transports from "civilization" would supply much of the ancillary products beyond the subsistent necessities. $\endgroup$
    – Gillgamesh
    Nov 1 at 15:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The help center prohibits asking questions where you give your answer and expect more. Worse, "what am I missing" questions are off-topic infinite list of things question (open-ended, all answers have equal value). Had you left all your existing design out and asked only, "what is needed to support manufacturing X?", the question would be satisfactory. However, questions leading to dependency trees have been asked before. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 1 at 17:07

3 Answers 3


I don't see any worker facilities such as retail, entertainment, medical,higher educational. Infrastructure such and water treatment / sewer, reservoirs. Security / safety (police fire?) as well as government type administrative areas.

I see no power production facilities. Though I can imagine things may be powered by modular distributed power sources.

I have reservations over the Arms Plant. Especially if they produced explosives of about any type. Just the storage areas for safety would be very spread out geographically. Hawthorne Army Depot

Hawthorne Army Depot (HWAD) U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command ammunition storage depot located near Hawthorne Nevada

production and storage as a whole would be isolate away from all other areas for the same reasons. Especially away from other potentially volatile production areas like the Antimatter production area. No one has any real experience with antimatter production but I imagine the same issues would also apply to this facility.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No brothels either, nor banking/finance facilities. $\endgroup$ Nov 1 at 15:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Water treatment is present, center up, blue. Pharmaceutical (some kind of) is west center, purple. However the rest of human-related facilities aren't present, not even a living quarters are depicted. No data on whether they are located underground, also no data if the image was edited after your initial answer. $\endgroup$
    – Vesper
    Nov 1 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Vesper I have missed larger things closer to my nose before. There are apartment blocks to the SE of the map (left) I saw the Pharma area, but assumed that was manufacturing from the article. $\endgroup$
    – Gillgamesh
    Nov 1 at 17:21

I think your food supply seems a bit undersized (assuming no major food imports)

Specifically, you write:

Infrastructure for the on site personal numbering in the 1000s.

Cultivation Plant; This is where food is produced. The idea is they have genetically modified fast growing crops and 3D printers which can make food.

The problem with this, is that even if you have fast growing crops and 3d printers which can rearrange biological feedstock into more appealing shapes/textures/flavors, that doesn't change the fact that people eat a lot of food and that food is critically important to people.

Lets do some math:

  1. Ballpark one person eats 1.8kg of food per day and we have 5000 workers, that's 9 tons of food required per day.

  2. 9 tons/day x 365 days/year = 3,285 tons/year.

  3. With a 20% safety margin: 3,285 tons x 1.20 = 3,942 tons/year.

  4. Assume mixed-use conventional Earth farm, 3,942 tons/year ÷ 2 tons/acre/year = 1,971 acres required.

So, using conventional farming, you would need almost 2000 acres of farmland to feed all these people, or about 8 square kilometers. If 1px = 1m in your map, 8 square kilometers would be almost the entire area of your current map in conventional farmland.

Granted, you aren't using conventional farmland. You have super-crops and maybe you're running them in an ultra-efficient aeroponics setup. Still, even if your farms are an order of magnitude or more efficient, I still think the footprint Cultivation Plant should be bigger, especially since area to grow the food on is only part of the calculation. You still need to be able to harvest, store, process, print, store, and distribute the food and then you need all the support equipment for these tasks. Especially if vehicle are involved, you'd need a whole vehicle yard for tractors/transports/combines/etc.


Transportation Support System

You mention:

Industry to maintain, build and operate the various support vehicles like trains, helicopters, ships, rockets and spaceships.

and a large part of your industrial park is setup with train tracks, yet I don't see any train support infrastructure.

If you want to operate a system of rails and trains, you need far more than just the direct rail lines connecting POIs between each other, you also need an extensive marshaling / railway yard where out-of-use trains can be stored and just generally space where train-related activities can be performed (coupling, decoupling, rearranging, etc). You'd also need far more opportunities to for trains to pass each other, and since trains require regular maintenance and cleaning, you should probably have some large buildings where trains can go inside so that humans can work on them without needing to be exposed to the atmosphere.

Similarly, I didn't read/see anything about how people get around within your operation. If they are driving vehicles to get from their apartments to the canteen, or if they are driving to get to their place of work, that's a significant infrastructure burden. You would need a lot of infrastructure to support this, and that's not even considering the similarly huge fleet of utility vehicles that you will need to, for example, aid in air/spaceport operations.


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