NCS Northern Star
|Name||NCS Northern Star|
|Constructed||2547 - 2551|
|Parent Body||Vir - Kara|
|Purpose||Refueling - Residential/Commercial - Archaeology - Mining - Research|
The NCS Northern Star is an asteroid colony owned and operated by NanoTrasen, located in the Vir system, orbiting a gas giant called Kara, among many other asteroid installations. Originally conceived as 'just another pit-stop' for weary asteroid miners, it has grown to become a significant installation in the Kara subsystem. As well as a rest-stop for travelers going in and out of the Kara subsystem or the Vir system as a whole, it also houses a population of civilians, almost all of whom work for NanoTrasen, functioning as the corporation's main "company town" in the system.
It has a large number of secondary functions, in addition to housing a population, mostly to achieve a degree of self-sufficiency and to generate additional profit. One major secondary function is the mining and hollowing of the asteroid the colony itself is built on, both to retrieve valuable ore to use for construction or trade, as well as to add more available space for future construction. The discovery of Phoron within the asteroid contributed significantly to its rise to prominence among similar stations. The asteroid also contains xenoarchaeological traces of an ancient pre-human civilization that inhabited the Vir system.
It also handles the logistic and refuelling needs of traffic to and from the Kara belt.
Before the NCS Northern Star was even conceived, it was just one of many, many asteroids orbiting a gas giant that would later be named Kara. In 2491, deposits of phoron were discovered in several asteroids around Kara, attracting the attention of several trans-stellar corporations, who started to claim and mine asteroids, searching for the elusive purple ore, but progress was slow, due to a lack of infrastructure, but that would change. Several SolGov owned resupply stations were built inside hollowed out asteroids orbiting Kara in 2514, and in 2541, Nanotrasen decided to follow their example, building several long term mining, processing, and resupply stations inside hollowed asteroids.
2554 is when everything changed for this particular asteroid, as it was when it was sold to Nanotrasen. At the time, it was just another huge rock, waiting to be mined to make room for a station, but two discoveries were made. The first is that several valuable ores and minerals, including phoron deposits, were discovered in abundance inside this asteroid, and the second is that xenoarcheological artifacts were found, their creators and their fate unknown to us to this day. This resulted in the planned resupply station to be reassigned to a much larger, permanent installation, capable of performing many functions.
The resupply station, at the time named NT-M07, shifted it's focus to mining the asteroid it was occupying, exporting phoron and other valuable minerals. A small research division was established, to study any strange artifacts that the mining crews found. The large amount of profit generated by the station allowed for expansions to be build, which necessitated better internal infrastructure. The primary source of power was changed from solar arrays to a supermatter engine, the research division was expanded, and the medical facilities were upgraded. At this point, NT-M07 was considered by many to be better than most of the other resupply stations orbiting Kara. A significant amount of miners and other personnel decided to stay at the station permanently. The station was converted into an asteroid colony, with multiple focuses, and was renamed the NCS Northern Star.
It is 2574, and the NCS Northern Star continues to grow steadily, ready to welcome just about anyone, as long as the money's good, and they don't cause trouble. The station saw a temporary drop-off in population and was partially evacuated due to damage sustained during the Skathari Incursion, but has since fully recovered and been equipped with greater safety redundancies. Many residents of smaller, less safe outlying stations have moved to the Star, pushing the population to an all time high.
The majority of the colony is contained inside a hollowed asteroid, which has the advantage of a natural barrier against space debris, as well as acting as an effective heat-sink. The colony is built upon several 'levels' consisting of one or many floors, separated by a long stretch of rock, with only long shafts served by elevators, and small automated transport shuttles linking them together.
The colony level is where most residents live and contains the majority of the station's habitation areas, both residences and temporary lodgings. It is often referred to as "the residential district", though it also houses NanoTrasen's largest administrative center outside of New Rekyjavik, extensive recreational facilities, and an expansive R&D department.
NanoTrasen employees throughout Vir are incentivised to rent property on the Northern Star, offering employee discounts at (company owned) local businesses, and with rental agreements sometimes being incorporated into employment contracts themselves, or similar company housing schemes in most of Sif's major cities.
The Colony level is home to most of the colony's commerce, with a wide variety of retail stores, services and restaurants existing in a large central multi-storey complex. The majority of businesses are owned directly by, or subsidiaries of NanoTrasen, though about a quarter of commercial property is rented out to residents for semi-independent operation. "Rival" corporate products are widely available, but often at a marked up price or under very particular restrictions.
Station services include a hospital fully equipped with the latest NanoTrasen medical advancements, and a sizable corporate police department operated almost entirely independently of the SifGuard (though still enforcing VirGov law, in addition to corporate regulations.) Colony level operations are overseen by a massive C-Class Drone AI system, supplemented with a full-time staff of drone and sapient operators. Other highlights include a 8000-head multi-purpose reconfigurable sports venue, high-capacity secure space dock, cutting-edge virtual reality and holographic suites, a Kaleidoscope Cosmetics treatment clinic, and free coffee on Tuesdays*.
Though primarily dependent on the Work Level, the Colony Level is also equipped with backup power and life support systems capable of supporting critical systems in case of emergency.
Between 10:05 and 10:25am at participating vending machines with qualifying purchase.
The work level is generally less busy than the main body of the colony, though it contains its own docks, the colony's primary engine, waste processing, life support and power supply systems, a dedicated medical wing, brig and armory, research and manufacturing facilities, a command and control post, auxilliary AI systems, and a shipping and recieving department.
The primary purpose of the work level is to house core station systems, at a relatively safe distance from main habitation areas to minimise noise and potential damage from major system failures. A number of 'high risk' laboratories are also housed on this level for the same reason, such as hazardous materials research and xenobiological containment.
A small set of docks are also located on this level, to serve shuttles pre-cleared for direct delivery to work level departments. The level is not equipped with a full customs and deliveries screening area, and is almost exclusively served by local NanoTrasen operated vessels.
A dedicated work-level security team is stationed here for rapid response purposes. They are equipped with their own holding cells, a forensics department, and an armory, but report to the main colony security department.
A small habitation block is also present on this level, with low-cost housing offered specifically for work level staff. A few basic recreational facilities are provided, though they do not compare to the colony level.
The mining level is also the base of operations for the mineral extraction division, which supplies the colony with valuable ore for industrial purposes. A small engineering power outpost also exists, separate from the main colony's power supply.
A large number of personnel are staffed at the NCS Northern Star, paid directly by Nanotrasen or contracted externally, with various jobs they are expected to perform to the best of their ability. All crew, as well as residents and expected visitors, are logged in a public manifest file, to aid in organization.
The NCS Northern Star offers two types of residencies, temporary and permanent. The temporary lodgings are popular with travelers, visitors and temporary contractors. A room can be rented for an individual or a group of people, with various prices depending on the quality of the room desired, ranging from simple bunks in shared barracks-like quarters, to full self-catered suites. Room assignment and management is almost completely automated by the colony's central AI system. A person renting a room has their account charged automatically for each day they rent the room.
As with temporary lodgings, prices for more permanent residential property varies greatly based on room quality. Most permanent residences are larger than their temporary counterparts. The most basic form available is a private "pod" bunk with little more than a space to lie down and a few belongings, ranging up to relatively large multi-room apartments. The vast majority available are single bedroom apartments with a separate combined living-kitchen space. Most permanent residences are paid for on a monthly basis, though this is often heavily discounted for NanoTrasen employees, especially those working at the Colony itself. Critics have claimed that the usual rent may be simply deducted from the employee's salary under certain contracts, and in practice the discount is negligible. Failure to pay rent will result in immediate lock-out from all residence systems and appliances, and notification of station security.
The NCS Northern Star is a destination for many people working in the Kara subsystem, or for people entering the Vir system, especially those working for NanoTrasen seeking company lodging or services. Many vessels and shuttles transport goods and people to and from the colony every day, particularly shuttles to and from other NanoTrasen facilities. A regular shuttle provides services to the Vir Interstellar Spaceport for interstellar travel connections.