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One of the many benefits of having space stations in Earth orbit is that, since they provide a micro-gravity environment, they can perform activities that are simply impossible to carry out on Earth. This can be especially appealing to certain research institutions and private companies that might have a need for a micro-gravity environment but don’t have the resources to deploy their own orbital outposts. In Space Station Designer, players will have the opportunity of installing ‘commercial services’ modules and fulfill commercial contracts issued by other entities.

The commercial services screen can be accessed by using the button in the right hand side panel of the LEO station screen:

Clicking this button will display a list of all the installed space station modules which can engage in commercial services:

For each module, the game displays the estimated payment for a commercial service contract, the estimated number of astronauts required and the estimated duration of the contract. Notice that the values shown in the screenshot are just placeholders and, as such, are not balanced yet. As an example, let’s select the “Laboratory For Private Companies (Advanced)” entry:

This will display a confirmation dialog:

And open the following screen:

This screen shows three options for contracts with different payments, durations, chances of success, number of astronauts required and penalties for unfulfilled contracts. Again, the numbers in the screenshots are not balanced, but the idea is that longer contracts will yield better rewards, contracts with higher penalty fees will pay more, etc. Players will need to decide carefully how much risk are they willing to take, how long they can afford to have astronauts fully committed to the commercial service engagement, etc.

Let’s select the option that pays the highest reward:

This will open the astronaut selection dialog, where players need to choose the astronauts that will be tasked with this commercial service engagement:

Notice that it’s possible to select astronauts who are currently assigned to a module or maintenance duties. Astronauts who are already assigned to another commercial service engagement cannot be selected, though.

Clicking on the confirmation button will display the following dialog:

By confirming our decision, the module now becomes ‘Engaged In Commercial Service’:

We can then return to the orbital outpost screen:

And, after 6 weeks, the game will display a dialog informing us that the commercial service engagement has ended, along with its outcome (a successful one, in this case 🙂 ):

Once we go back to the commercial services screen, we can see that the module is now available for commercial services again:

This is the first implementation of this mechanic, but we’re thinking of expanding it by adding random events with decision elements that will be triggered throughout the commercial service engagement. What do you think about this feature? As always, please feel free to leave us a comment below, contact us via contact form in the ‘Space Station Designer’ webpage or message us on twitter!

If you’re interested in playing the development version of Space Station Designer, you’ll be happy to hear that we’re planning to share it with our mailing list soon. You can subscribe here (don’t worry about spam, we only send a single newsletter e-mail per month 🙂 ).