The Worth Of A Pound Of Sand An Introduction To Stellar Surveying And Mining


Not everyone who steps out into space is fully prepared for it, regardless of what they're planning on doing out in the dark. Pirates don't generally always know how to rob ships well, not often you meet a bright-eyed free trader starting off that knows all the best routes and has all the connections before he even sets foot on his vessel, either. But Travellers travel, and travelling needs money. And unfortunately, a lot of silly sots try and jump into the asteroid mining game to pad their wallets between ventures - which more often than not sees them floating dead in the water around the belt, waiting for some more experienced belter to pick 'em up and help them back to highport.

Having picked up more than my fair share of green-horned spacers thinking they can make it without doing much prep work, and why they think that I don't know, I decided to set down this little manual you're holding. It's got all the experience fifty years on the belts gives you, and believe you me, that's a decent amount. I'm Harryn Hastway, I'm a Belter, and hopefully once you finish reading through this you'll have a decent idea of what you need to do to not be rattling my comm channel begging for a ride after your fuel tank hits empty.



Preparing for an Expedition

Scanners and Drones

Before you even start considering the difficulties of getting a permit or fuelling up enough to last the expedition and get home, there are a few things you're going to want to make certain you have on your ship. Firstly, make certain you have a cargo hold that can handle a few key items - claim beacons keyed in to your ships ID code are the most important things you'll carry that aren't life support. They're your flag, and if you strike, you're going to want to have one on hand to mark your territory and keep someone else from swooping in and hitting it rich on your work. Never leave the Highport without at least having things you can jury-rig into claim beacons, but you can generally buy them from the IISS Station on any given Highport for about 4000cr. Now, something to remember about picking up Claim Beacons though is that the cost of them tends to hint at the sort of action going on in the belts. 4000cr is an average. If you can buy them at a discount, then odds are you're looking at a lot of action, and a lot of independent action at that. Might mean a rich belt, might just be scavengers going where the corps aren't, your call to make. High prices tend to mean heavy corp presence though, so expect to pay a bit for your license too.

Another important thing to have with you if you've got the carge space, and more importantly if you've got someone who knows how to program and use them, is a decent set of mining drones. Most belters know how to inspect an asteroid manually in Zero-G getup, but it's nice to not have to, and with on-board scanners and mining lazers, drones'll help you make time and generally make it a lot easier to diffrentiate the duds from the strikes.

Lastly, if you aren't going into this with a decent mining ship, there are a few things to check out about your ship itself before you even think of hitting the belts. Most of this has to do with your scanners. Make certain they're capable of doing relatively deep scans - you're looking for mineral composition in the asteroids, so just radar won't do. Make certain you know the specs of your machine, beyond that. Know how to use it, know the way the readouts come out, and know how to coax it to work with you. And expect to be spending a lot of time with your readouts - strikes take time, no matter how advanced your tech is. You're going to be staring at that scanner for a long time.

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