Building Your First Moon Colony

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Establishing your first moon colony can be challenging because there are many new things to learn. The first being transportation and the second being logistics. This topic shows how to build a moon colony with only one rocket trip to the moon.

Once your first moon colony is operational, you will have the materials needed to manufacture real spacecraft. Spacecraft enable you to carry passengers and large amounts of cargo. This makes starting the next city vastly easier, whether it is on a paradise habitable world or the harshest inferno magma ball.

This topic assumes you have built a city on a habitable world with basic infrastructure. That city will be called the home city. Read Building Your First City if you have not built a home city.

Home City Infrastructure

Prepare the home city to support a moon colony. Build the infrastructure that is needed in the home city before you go to the moon.

Build an airport terminal in the home city. An airport terminal creates a trade connection with all other cities in the solar system that also have an airport terminal. Roads and wharfs similarly create land and sea trade connections between cities. Trade connections allow supplies to flow between the cities that are interconnected.

The moon colony will consume a large amount of air. Water can be converted to air by a refinery at the moon colony to augment the air supply. To prepare for the air demands of the moon colony, manufacture both air and water in the home city. The water isn't strictly necessary, but it does significantly help prevent air shortages.

Build a refinery in the home city. Set the refinery to manufacture air. There are several processes for making air. Select Air using Atmosphere to collect breathable air directly from the atmosphere. By the way, this process does not require a breathable atmosphere; it can be used in a harsh atmosphere to extract breathable components.

Build wells and treatment plants to produce water. Water wells can be dug anywhere on the terrain, no specific geological formation is required. Treatment plants can be built on the coast and on land. A treatment plant on land requires a source of ice to convert to water.

The airless environment of the moon will be deadly. Build an armorer. Add a manufacturing line to make EV suits and another to make EV helmets.

The home city now has the infrastructure necessary to support a moon colony.

Preparing For The Journey

Build an aircraft factory and start producing space rockets. Spare space rockets are always good when learning how to fly.

Once a space rocket is ready, the Rocket Training story should begin and teach you the basics of how to fly a space rocket, including controls. If the story does not start, do not fret.

An EV suit is essential for surviving harsh environments. If you do not already have one, go to a retail store and take an EV suit and a helmet from its storage. The Rocket Training story also provides a free set if you don't have one.

The fuel cell on a space rocket lasts 20 minutes. It is refuelled using hydrogen and can be refuelled in flight if you have hydrogen in your inventory. Buying an extra can or two of hydrogen can be useful if you plan to fly around in your space rocket for a while.

In order to get some information about your solar system before your journey, you can build an observatory and an airport radar. Having both in your city will give access to the system survey information on the system map, revealing the presence of resources and their quality on each world. This will be important later for finding cryozine.

Blast Off

Fly the space rocket out of the planet's atmosphere. If you can't immediately see a moon in close orbit, it might be best to come to a full stop. Press the H key to enable the hold mode, it will toggle on the brakes and attempt to keep your space rocket stationary.

Pressing the O key will toggle on orbit rings of all celestial bodies. If your homeworld has a moon, or if your homeworld is a titan orbiting a gas giant with other moons, their orbits should show as green rings.

If there are no moons in your local planetary system, you will have to look for other planets and moons in your solar system. You can check your system map to see where there are potential moons. When looking for other planetary systems to check, start with the inner and outer orbit zones and secondly frigid orbit zones. Inferno orbit zones should be a last resort because of the added requirements for colonizing those worlds.

When flying through space in your space rocket, be wary of large gas giants and giant suns. The space rocket is affected by gravity and might be pulled in faster than the space rocket can accelerate. Therefore a moon in the same planetary system as your homeworld is normally recommended.

If you have a system survey of your solar system, you can check what quality resources might be on each moon and find the best ones. It is however a lot easier to get to those moons once you have acquired the resources to make gravity drive spacecraft.

Landing and Scouting

Once you have located a moon or other suitable planet, fly to it. Accelerate at full throttle towards the destination. Once at a good speed, it is usually best to turn off the thrust and simply cruise to your destination. Use the lateral brake Q to control your heading and slow down with the forward brake SPACE when nearing your destination.

Once in orbit over your destination, simple give your space rocket a short burst towards the surface and use the brakes again to glide down. Landing nose up is not required, but mind your speed when you impact with the surface.

Enter the top-down view and look at your surroundings. Eludium should be present on any world with a very low or no atmosphere density. You will have to cycle through the top-down view's overlays to find the one that shows common minerals.

Eludium icon Lumenite icon

If you are lucky, you might also be able to locate Lumenite. Lumenite is possible on habitable orbit zone moons, but it is more likely to be present in the colder orbit zones.

In the beginning Eludium is the most important, as it will allow construction of more advanced space vehicles and spaceships. Lumenite is nice to have present on the first moon colony, but it is not necessary. With those more advanced space vehicles and spaceships it will be easier to make more colonies in the future.

Ice is valuable if you intend to make the colony self-sufficient. Colder moons will often have ice patches. Ice can be mined and converted to water and air.

You can use your space rocket to scout for more resources or even check over moons and worlds. If your space rocket is low on fuel you can refuel if with hydrogen from your inventory by pressing the K key.

Look for a good site to build a moon colony.

Moon Base Alpha

Once you have found a suitable site for the moon colony:

Switch to the top-down view and build an airport terminal. If you build the airport terminal directly beneath the rocket, you can use the Building (F10) window to do the work without exiting the rocket.

The airport terminal will automatically create a trade connection with all other airport terminals in the solar system. This happens even while the airport terminal is under construction, allowing it to fetch construction materials from your home city.

Be sure your EV suit is on and your helmet visor is closed before exiting the space rocket.

You can now start planning out the rest of your moon colony. Build homes for your future moon colony population, build a power plant to enable the life-support, and start mining the new resources so they can be sent back to your home city.

Note: The buildings you construct on the moon will need to be hazardous environment withstanding (HEV). You won't be able to use the same designs as you did in your home city. You may need to open the design exchange and obtain special HEV-prepared designs uploaded by other players to the Steam Workshop.

If you brought a passenger in your space rocket, you can debark them to join the moon colony. Enter the space rocket and press the Debark Passengers button Comm window to unload the passenger. The space rocket must be landed on the airport terminal. The passenger will leave the space rocket and move into one of the available homes, becoming a citizen of the new moon colony.

Growth Tips

Unlike a habitable environment, citizens in a harsh environment work all the time whether there is power or not.

Add homes to the moon colony by building houses and apartments. Homes are needed for the population to grow.

Building a capitol and turning the colony into a full-blown city is not necessary. This removes the need for morale buildings on the moon, however you can choose to create a city regardless if you want to be able to check its status reports and control buildings through the central capitol UI.

Build a power plant. Electricity is needed for life support, without it they will suffer from a morale penalty. Power production is the first priority when delegating jobs in a harsh environment. Citizens will work the power plant before anything else.

Food imported through an airport is usually sufficient. Food production is the third priority when delegating jobs in a harsh environment. Food production can help a moon colony to become self sufficient. To produce animal by-products at a farm in a harsh environment, you must bring an animal or DNA Sample to the farm.

Remaining jobs are allocated after power plant, refinery, and food production jobs are filled.

Rocket-Drive Spacecraft

Another method consists of using a rocket-drive spacecraft to go to space. It has some advantages compared to the basic space rocket vehicle:

  • It's easier to navigate (using a navigator console and sensors).
  • You have a much greater hold to keep your food and other important supplies in (depending on the blueprint).
  • The spacecraft usually has way more fuel in its fuel cells than a space rocket, so you won't need to refill it yourself (depending on the blueprint).
  • It's always cool to have a breathable and walkable space while on airless worlds or in the void of space.
  • Having a berth on a spacecraft is essentially a respawn point for if you die while on the other worlds.
  • Some spacecraft blueprints can embark passengers and cryo berths, so you can help the population to grow by disembarking them on your moon colony.

But this method has drawbacks too:

  • You'll have to construct more dedicated industries, such as an airport repair shop to manufacture the spare parts, a spacecraft factory to manufacture the spacecraft, and possibly more depending on your current infrastructure.
  • It's not easy to choose a spacecraft blueprint when you don't understand all the values given in their description.
  • Using a spacecraft doesn't offer any real logistical advantage now that airport terminals can fetch materials while still under construction.

Finding Public Blueprints

The kind of spacecraft has to only use low-tech subsystems (meaning no FTL drives, shields or transporters). This allow you to build them quickly and with few materials. They will have the Structure as Spaceship, which means they don't have an FTL drive. Their names often include "Beginner", "Starter", "Rocket" or "Moon". In the design information, check on the ENGINEERING section, under [...]m3 Maneuver Drive you should read: Rocket Drive Module Q[...]. Check on the AVIONICS section, under [...]m3 Life Support you should read that it's Life Support Module Q[...] and NOT Life Support Gravity Module Q[...]. Finally check at the end of the design information, and look at the materials: you should have all the materials required.

These are some examples of viable starter spacecraft blueprints on the Steam Workshop, which can be accessed through the in-game exchanges.

The Asteroid Threat

Example of the system map with survey information.

Only applies to Reach for the Stars

Now would be a good time to check your system for cryozine. Having both an observatory and an airport radar will generate a system survey of your home system, after which you can see world resources on the system map. Simply click on the body to see its resources.

Only worlds in the frigid orbit-zone with a non-standard atmosphere will contain cryozine. Cryozine is necessary for the production of energy weapon modules and energy weapon lenses, which are recommended for destroying the asteroid threat. The asteroid will impact your homeworld one week from when you started, and will annihilate your planet if left unchecked, so this should be a priority. This will require setting up a refinery to extract cryozine from the frigid atmosphere, and production of cryo heat sinks.

If your starting system has no cryozine, see the Building Your First Interstellar Colony guide.

What next?

Once you've got a stable population on your moon colony and Eludium is being mined, you're ready to advance to proper gravity-drive spacecraft.

Your next step is to return to your homeworld, and setup production of Grav Couplings. These are the key components of gravity drive technology which is the next step up from rocket engines and allows for far more advanced spacecraft.

For the next steps, see Building Your First Interstellar Colony.