|L5 Station Beta|
|Base Hull||Rockhounds Space Rock SR-01|
|Drive Type||Reactionless thrusters|
|Drive Rating||Station-keeping only|
|Primary Manufacturer||Rockhounds, NASA|
|Flag of Record||United States of America|
|Purpose||Scientific platform, largely low-G experiments and astronomy|
|Other Crew||approximately 50 staff|
SCSC St. Dominic de Guzman (commander's launch)
SCSS H.R. Floyd (passenger transport)
Space Station Beta started out as a small nickel-iron asteroid in the Main Belt. Rockhounds hauled it into Cislunar Space in mid-2008, turned it into their first space mine, and (after a short bidding war by many scientific and manufacturing concerns) sold the hollowed-out shell to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA left the asteroid in its L5 orbit, called it "Beta" and started turning it into a manned research space station, contracting with Hermes Universal Deliveries and other early Fen shipping companies to transport supplies, construction materials, and personnel to and from the station until they could get their own 'waved transportation running.
The presidential order that gave the Transrationality Science Assessment Bureau all US Government control of handwavium almost forced NASA to abandon the station. Only the fact that the 3.0m Brahe Telescope, the largest optical telescope at L5, had been installed a week before the Executive Order was signed let NASA keep the station running. However, since NASA did not have the budget to build a hardtech manned vehicle that could reach L5, they were forced to hire the Russian Federal Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the Solomon Space Agency simply to ferry staff and supplies to and from station Beta. TSAB's interpretation of NASA's restrictions on using handwavium meant they couldn't turn to the Fen as a source of raw materials; as a result, construction of the station slowed drastically - what had been planned as a three-year construction project ended up with a two-decade timetable. Morale plummeted, but work continued as best it could.
Early 2014 saw two events of importance to station Beta. The first was the US Congress' Joint Committee on Extraterrestrial Security's hearings into NASA's receiving a supply of handwavium from the Soviet Air Force. The second, two weeks later, was the April Fool's Purchase which saw all of NASA's remaining space-exploration operations and facilities sold to the Artemis Foundation for fractions-of-pennies on the dollar. The facilities included Beta, and Stellvia Corporation immediately sent in a team of specialist engineers who quickly brought the station's life-support, propulsion, and crew habitation and recreation modules up to the same quality as what existed on Wonderland, the company's other L5 asteroid habitat. During the two months that this upgrade work was progressing, the Artemis Foundation's director Sullivan Dwyer personally interviewed each of the NASA employees in residence in the station, offering them all positions with Project Artemis.
Station Beta is flourishing under its new ownership - the staff are working on projects that they want to carry out, and the resources needed to finish building the station are flowing in like water. Current estimates place station completion in mid-July 2015, with completion and delivery of the Space Shuttle Gjøa for use in station support by the end of that month. In addition to the scientific projects taking place in the station itself, Beta serves as the base for all Artemis Foundation experiments that take place within cislunar space. The Brahe Telescope has also been outfitted with a state-of-the-art (but not Awakened) computer system, allowing for more precise observations of stellar phenomena - this system is upgraded and recalibrated on a regular basis by Stellvia Corporation employees. Station Beta is busier than it's ever been before.
- ↑ At least, that's what the ship-registry databases say.
- ↑ The station's name comes from it being the second station that NASA was involved in running at the time of its naming, the first being the International Space Station, which had the callsign "Alpha" during Expedition 1.
- ↑ Pure-science astronomical research was not included in the TSAB mission statement, and the executive office of the time did not want to be seen as "throwing money away" on a telescope that would never be used.
- ↑ Some people, both Fen and 'Dane, believe this interpretation to be a deliberate attempt on TSAB's part to wrest control of Beta from NASA.
- ↑ Those hearings really embarrassed some senators no end.
- ↑ Both figuratively and literally; StellviaCorp wants Beta to be self-sufficient in its water and food supply, so part of the asteroid is being given the same infrastructure that Wonderland received.
- ↑ Upgrades to the Brahe Telescope's controls take place far more often than necessary; most of the staff have figured out that they're an excuse for Miyuri Akisato to get in some observing.