Freihafen Space Operations
By Randy McDonaldIntroduction
As Bavaria’s first and largest extrasolar colony, early on the Vereinigte Kolonien von Garten developed an extensive presence in Tiranean orbital space and the Alpha Centauri trinary system generally. Garten’s contributions to the wider Bavarian interstellar community were limited due to its out of the way location; Nibelungen and Earth were better positioned to take advantage of trade with the French Arm, while the lack of any substantial threats to the colony’s security after the Second Rio Plata War kept the local Raumwaffe (Ger: space force) from expanding to the size of the Nibelungen and Earth system defense forces of the Bavarian Sternkriegsmarine. Nonethless, the sheer density of space in the “Centauri cluster” ensured a large local Garten presence , while trade with Earth, the Chinese Arm colony of Heidelsheimat, and then the French Arm colonies (of Bavaria and France in particular) required the colonies to outfit a small merchant fleet.
As Garten’s population and wealth grew markedly, Garten’s presence in the Alpha Centauri system also increased, as interface stations were built and expanded, scientific and research outposts sprung up throughout the Centauri cluster, while mining and defense facilities were created to meet the demands of Garten’s security and economic needs. Training facilities increased markedly: While civilian merchanters based on Garten maintained their own accredited training institutions, on Tirane and in orbit, Haupstadt’s Stern Akademie was a top-flight space naval academy reserved for military training (in the Alpha Centauri Raumwaffe as well as the broader Bavarian Sternkriegsmarine). Most of the crew on Raumwaffe vessels were trained at the Stern Akademie, while as the 23rd century progressed an increasing proportion of Sternkriegsmarine crewmen and officers were of Gartener origins.
The Third Battle of Alpha Centauri was fought in the space surrounding some of Freihafen’s most important outposts in the Centauri cluster, at the PWS in the Proxima Centauri system and among the moons of Gallia in A/B. This highly public battle, Freihafen’s expanding interstellar trade, and a growing interstellar among Freihafeners generally in the wider interstellar community promises to encourage Freihafeners’ interest. Government and Population
All Freihafen-registered vessels and stations located beyond the atmosphere of Tirane are included in the Raumbezirk (Ger: Space District), a legal entity lacking representation at the kreis or federal level and governed by Freihafen law. The Raumpolizei (Ger: Space Police) are a branch of civilian authorities charged with enforcing Freihafen law. Although they are administratively distinct from the Raumwaffe, if need be their agents can call on the Raumwaffe’s support. (The Raumwaffe has its own police system for internal matters.)
Since Freihafen lacks any colonies or enclaves of its own beyond the Centauri cluster, all residents of Freihafen-registered vehicles and outposts who are not military personnel live within the Alpha Centauri trinary system. The population of these vehicles and outposts always fluctuates, but on average they host a total population in excess of one hundred thousand people.
The Raumwaffe: the Freihafener Raumwaffe is detailed in the MILITARY section, but the Raumwaffe maintains an extensive presence throughout Freihafen’s space holdings in the Alpha Centauri trinary system. Military ships are based at either Dominik Station or the Neubayern Raumgelände; repairs are conducted a the latter facility. The Freihafenian Rotterdam-class destroyer Neuklagenfurt, damaged during the engagement at Proxima, is kept docked at the civilian pole of Dominik Station, as a museum ship.
Freihafen Raumwissenschaft Agentur: The Freihafen Raumwissenschaft Agentur (Ger: Freihafen Space Science Agency) is the civilian space science agency of the Freihafenian government. Descended from the Bavarian Centauri Kolonialübersicht (Ger: Centauri Colonial Survey ) program conducted under the aegis of the ESA, the charter of the FRA charges the Agentur (as it is commonly known) with engaging in detailed scientific studies of the stars, worlds, and other bodies in the Alpha Centauri trinary system. The Agentur is responsible for Freihafenian science stations elsewhere in the Centauri cluster outside of the orbit of Tirane and its moons, including the large science contingents at Limbes and more temporary facilities elsewhere as far as the distant iceball Lusitania at the edge of the A/B system. These temporary facilities are mothballed, reactivated whenever a research proposal requiring their use is accepted for funding.
The Agentur operates a small fleet of five Krupp 821 cargo carriers converted into short-distance shuttles, optimized for fuel efficiency at the expense of cargo and passenger space. Most of the time, these vehicles are not being used. Whenever one or more of these vessels becomes available, the Agentur allows these vehicles to be rented out, to be used to transport passengers and cargo to or from the corporate outposts in the Alpha Centauri trinary system under the Freihafenian flag. This transport service is run relatively efficiently, and helps subsidize the Agentur’s science projects.
The Agentur has two Hamid-class survey ships, in their original unarmed configuration. These are kept docked at Dominik Station, but on average once a year the Agentur launches them on survey missions to the Proxima Centauri and Barnard’s Star system. The Agentur has expressed an interest in acquiring long-range survey ships, and is rumored to be in discussions with the French government to purchase a Cambaceres-class survey ship.
Freihafen Kaufleute Verbindung: The FKV (Ger: Freihafener Merchanters’ Association) was created in 2295 as a legal agency under the Freihafen government which required all Freihafener interstellar cargo and passenger vessels (some 63 as of 2302) to register as members. In exchange for regular inspections and small membership fees, interstellar ships belonging to the FKV can count on the protection of the nearest Freihafener diplomatic outpost in case of disputes as well as top-priority access to government contracts.
In low Tirane orbit, the Freihafen government and individual organizations (business, scientific, and other) maintain dozens of separate manned installations and hundreds of unmanned satellites. Many Freihafen-registered stations and satellites orbit Tirane in circumpolar orbits in order to provide better coverage of Freihafen’s land area. One of the most notable facilities in Tirane orbit is the Neuwittelsbach station, an exclusive resort owned by the Wittelsbach Korporation. A large rotating spindle-like structure located in a circumpolar orbit thirteen thousand kilometers about Tirane’s surface, Neuwittelsbach is capable of hosting more than five thousand people inside its terraformed surface.
In Tirasynchronous orbit, Freihafen maintains a variety of military/surveillance and communications satellites, as well as Freihafen’s two major orbital interface stations. Lasswitz Station is Freihafen’s main civilian spaceport, handling 65% of the traffic destined for Freihafen, all of the traffic directed for Tunghu, and substantial fractions of the traffic directed towards Nouvelle Provence. It was named after Kurd Lasswitz, a German science fiction writer of the early 20th century who described, in his 1897 novel Auf zwei Planeten (Ger: The Two Planets), a space station in stationary orbit about the Earth, serving as an interface station between Earth and Mars. Lasswitz Station’s design is a one-third size version of Sol system’s L-5 station, with rotating ring habitats mechanically attached by ribs and spokes to a non-rotating core. Lasswitz Station was built originally with three rings (the mainly residential and commercial Erde, the industrial Nibelungen, and the traveler-oriented Tirane), with the Tirane-oriented end of the core (South Pole) originally being reserved for government and military traffic and the opposite end of the core being designated to receive commercial traffic. The Neumark ring was added in 2109-2111 to accommodate the increased traffic, followed by the Adlerhost ring in 2220-2221, the Hochbaden ring in 2229, and the Heidelsheimat ring in 2239. Lasswitz Station was converted completely to civilian use in 2273 Lasswitz Station remains independent Freihafen’s primary orbital transfer station despite its growing age, and is home to a rotating population of 40 thousand people.
Dominik Station was built in 2251-2256 to accommodate the increasing commerce to and from Garten. Dominik station was built to the same specifications as Lasswitz, with three rings (named Hauptstadt, Neumarkt, and Neu‑Tsingtao after the colony's largest cities). The newer station never saw as much traffic as Lasswitz, and in the 2270s it was converted to serve as the main nucleus for Freihafen Raumwaffe. Unlike Australia’s Fleet Space Station Citadel, Dominik Station had the virtue of being relatively inexpensive in construction. The south pole is reserved for Raumwaffe vessels, while the north pole is shared by Raumwaffe and Agentur space vehicles with civilian craft.
Esa fuel stations: On Tirane’s inner iceball moon, Freihafen maintains several ice-cracking installations. Powered by vast solar-cell arrays which generate almost three gigawatts of power, several hundred miners based in Neumarkt teleoperate mining vehicles which mine Esain ice, transport it to cracking facilities for separation into hydrogen and oxygen. Freihafen’s industrial expertise makes the Freihafener facilities relatively efficient and major exporters of refined hydrogen/oxygen fuel to ships throughout the Alpha Centauri trinary system, Freihafener and otherwise.
Europos Station Eine: This station is the main Freihafener facility located on Europos, on the second moons’ equator. Founded in 2175 by the Bavarians as a long-range observation post and military staging point, in the intervening century and a quarter Station Eine has evolved into a civilian outpost, with long-range spacecraft tracking facilities. Adjoining Station Eine is the Club Med - Europos resort, a resort including a terraformed dome that attracts wealthy Freihafener tourists interested in experiencing low gravity conditions. The station has also become a support facility for the Neubayern Raumgelände, Freihafen’s main civilian construction yards.
Neubayern Raumgelände: The New Bavaria Spaceyards lie at the core of Freihafen’s spacefaring economy, manufacturing civilian ships including interstellar transports and in-system interplanetary couriers and orbital transfer vehicles for Freihafen’s domestic market as well as for export. Recent financial troubles relating to Freihafen’s independence from Germany has caused the Freihafen government to begin subsidizing the Yards, to protect this cornerstone of Freihafen’s space industry.
Alpha Centauri B and A/B
Limbes: Gartener/Freihafenian scientists long took a leading role in the study of the greenhouse world of Limbes (Alpha Centauri B III), as part of a long‑term scientific effort to understand the future of Earth and Tirane, both of which will become uninhabitable in several hundred million years owing to the heating of their primaries. Some 1 800 Freihafeners reside on Limbes Station One, while the Agentur maintains the Franz-Josef Strauss Wissenschaft Station (Ger: Franz-Josef Strauss Science Station) with a further 400 crew and staff, mostly Freihafener but including some German and Néo-Provençal specialists.
Freihafeners have long been interested in Limbes for a number of reasons, not least of which are the facts that it was formerly a garden world and that it plays a central role in the Ramtha cult (see RELIGION). The IES (Ger: Internationale Ecopoesis Gesellschaft) has also consistently identified Limbes as a top priority for modern technologically-assisted terraforming, and not a few Freihafeners think it’s right.
Gallia: The gas giant Gallia is located in a circular orbit 106 AU from the center of gravity of the A/B segment of the Centauri cluster. Gallia along with its four large moons (Narbonensis, Aquitania, Lugudensis, and Belgica) has long been a subject of scientific and industrial interest. Since the 2190s, the Gartener/Freihafener government has supervised the Hermannstadt (Ger: Arminius City) base complex on the moon of Aquitania. Home to a rotating population of 11 thousand contract employees working under a dozen different Freihafen government agencies and megacorporations, Hermannstadt is one of the most distant continuously manned outposts in the A/B planetary system.
Kuiper Belt: The competing gravities of A and B and the system’s relative age (almost one billion years old than Sol) threw much of the abundant asteroidal material in the A/B inner system into the outer system. Lonely prospectors can be found throughout this area, looking for anything–large deposits of refinable metals, sources of water and organics to support deep-space operations, even relics of the lost Limbes civilization.
Proxima Wissenschaft Station: The Proxima Science Station is a simple wheel-and-spokes space station, rotating to provide its 400 residents (science staff, crew, and families) one standard Tiranean gravity via centrifugal force. Assembled in its current orbit 1 astronomical unit from Proxima Centauri in 2251 from prefabricated parts made by Gartener corporations, the PWS is notable mainly for the high salaries (“isolation pay”) paid to its bored employees, and for the fact that the Proxima segment of the Third Battle of Alpha Centauri was fought near the PWS. During post-war negotiations, the German government tried to claim the PWS on the grounds that it was not located in the Alpha Centauri system, but Scandinavian mediators rejected this claim.
Freihafen retained claims to former Bavarian facilities located outside of the Alpha Centauri trinary system until 2295, based on the Garten colonies’ provision of more than half of the Bavarian interstellar community’s tax revenues. This position, however, did not reflect any official Freihafener interest in retaining Bavarian-built facilities outside of Alpha Centauri, but rather reflected a hard-nosed negotiating position in the post-independence talks between Germany and Freihafen, intended to get Germany to back off on financial claims against the Freihafener government. All of Germany’s outposts in the Core were oriented towards either the defense of Terran Bavaria/Germany or the support of the French Arm colonies, and since Freihafen wanted to make a clean break with the new German interstellar community its negotiators happily renounced claims to these.
Soon after Freihafener control and sovereignty over all Bavarian Alpha Centauri facilities was confirmed, however, Freihafener space enthusiasts–in the general public and in the Agentur–began agitating for the establishment of an extrasolar outpost. Barnard Star’s planet of Leto, already hosting American and Manchurian outposts, is seen as the logical target, since Barnard’s Star is the first planetary system in the Sino-American Approaches and the portal to the Chinese and American Arms. With the government’s consent, the Agentur has solicited proposals for the design of a Leto base.