Airdocks · Solaris Wiki | World Anvil


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As the great metal gates hinged inwards, a last sigh of air billowed into space. A pillar of a ship glided out, seemingly too large to pass through the opening. Flashes of crystal light corrected her course by degrees too minute to perceive. The JGC Singularis baptised herself in the light of the distant Sun.
  An airdock is an air-filled structure constructed in space that is used for building and repairing spacecraft quicker and easier than in vacuum. They are analogous to terrestrial drydocks. All major planets and many moons have extensive systems of airdocks that support commerce and industry.


Pillars of Fire

In the ancient past, spacecraft were launched directly from the surface into space, often on top of stacks of crude chemical boosters called rockets. This caused a lot of design limitations. Space and atmospheric flight are very different, and because rockets operated in both regimes they couldn't be optimized for either. Very high acceleration would be needed to punch through the atmosphere in a reasonable amount of time, causing large amounts of vibration in the process. Some planets such as Venus and Jupiter had extra-thick atmospheres, as well, further posing complications.  

Building in Vacuum

The first spacedocks were vacuum docks. Building large structures in space was difficult due to the problem of procuring materials, and vacuum docks required little more than a frame and living quarters. Shipping parts to orbit and assembling them expanded on the possibilities of spacecraft, but operating in vacuum still had the challenges of needing bulky space suits. Some materials, particularly organic ones like cloth and leather, still had to be installed inside atmosphere lest they deteriorate, meaning a process of pressurizing a spacecraft and repeatedly navigating in and out of airlocks to install all furnishings, adding even more time and effort.  

Airdocks and Empire

The first airdock was built around Mercury some time before the start of the Imperial Period, named Vanguard Station. It was very small compared to modern airdocks and built in a near-spherical shape, likely to maximize volume and structural strength with a minimum of material. Also unlike modern airdocks, which are designed to be depressurized and opened so the contained spacecraft can exit under its own power, Vanguard Station's airdock had to be partly disassembled so the spacecraft could be freed. Despite these limitations, this airdock and the many that came after fueled the Mercurian empire and was key to building its massive merchant fleet.

Hubs of Industry

Modern day airdocks are sprawling hubs of industry. Not only do shipyards tend to have several airdocks of different sizes, they also often act as full space stations capable of handling cargo shipments and passengers. Unlike in the early space age, it is possible to economically acquire raw materials in space. Advances in metallurgy and the invention of gravplates means some airdocks even have integrated foundries.   By volume (m3) of spacecraft launched annually, Mercury was by far the largest in the Inner Worlds before the Scorching, followed by Venus. In the Outer Worlds, Saturn produces the most volume of spacecraft closely followed by Jupiter. Jupiter's Red Spot Shipyards produces some of the largest ships in the Sol System such as the Pater-class carrier as well as a significant fraction of all Dragonfly carriers in operation.

Related Articles

Crystal Technology
Spacecraft Kallisti Aerospace ( Sunderer SF-1 · Sunbreaker SF-2 ) · Jupiter Stella ( Aerie O-1 · Cyklopes SSF-9 ) · Heretic GA-7 · Dragonfly Carrier · Airdocks
Telepresence Interlace ( Super Wide Access Network ) · Remote Projection ( Remote Personality Cache/Display )
Other Bosonic Clock · Gateway Portals · Gravity Plates · Personal Computer
Materials Astrallite · Aurorite
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Dec 31, 2023 21:32 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Great overview of the history that led to airdocks. :) <3

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jan 1, 2024 13:02


Jan 24, 2024 22:49 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Fascinating way to do things! It's a great idea :D

Apr 9, 2024 01:15 by Aster Blackwell

It's insane that Mercury was such a dominant force in the solar system, only to be extinguished in an instant by the Scorching. I'd love to learn about what became of Mercury's shipyards and airdocks!