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What Do You Use Space Stations For?

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So, I've been playing KSP for almost a full year now and have always loved building space stations. When I first started the game, my first big goal wasn't actually to land on the Mun, but to build a giant space station. The first one I built had no particular purpose, I just made it to look cool and have something to brag about. It wasn't until much later that I actually started using them for a purpose. I placed a relatively small station out near Duna before I sent my first manned missions there. Its purpose was to be able to act as a lifeboat in case one of the missions went wrong. It had a decent amount of fuel onboard that would hopefully allow a stranded crew to be able to come home. The next time I built a station for a real purpose was when I started my first "science mode" save. After sending about 6 missions to the Mun to collect me some science, I decided it would just be easier to have a small SSTO lander attached to a large refueling hub in orbit around the Mun. I would periodically send missions out to the station to refuel the station itself (I hadn't unlocked ISRU yet), take home science, and transfer crew. I guess my whole reason for creating this post was to ask what other people use their space stations for and create a place for people to share any space station tips they have that could be of help to both newbie Kerbonauts, and veterans alike. 

...psst... I love pictures, so by all means... post away.



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Science labs, mostly, sometimes just as a place to stuff Kerbals before I send up a crew shuttle to bring them home or as fuel depots. Otherwise they're just art pieces.

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Fuel storage... lots of fuel storage.

Huggins of orange tanks dripping with the stuff.


Then don't get around to doing anything with most of the stuff that you've spent so much time shipping up to it, then replace the whole station with an even bigger one, with capacity for... more fuel.

At least that was my experience anyway, although most of my station building took place before the inclusion of ore mining/refining in stock.

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I do lots of orbital construction and refitting/refueling of existing ships for new missions. Space stations are a handy way to keep kerbals, fuel, ships, and ship subassemblies all in the same place without worrying about collisions.


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Only have an active station around Kerbin, its fuel and resource depot and service station it hold parts for KIS upgrades, lots of science containers for adding and storing experiments for use on interplanetary ships. 
Also to store kerbals who are rescued or waiting for ships. It has an lab too. Has an unmanned one in Duna orbit, part of an asteroid miner for refueling in Duna orbit. 

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Science and more science!   I'm still pretty early in my 1.2.2 career and I have a station orbiting Kerbin, Mun and Minmus pumping out over 15 science per day.   Otherwise refueling, which is probably the most common, practical reason to build a station.

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Fuel storage / refining, as has been mentioned already.

Storage for life support.  If a mission goes awry, or my kerbals are on a layover waiting for a launch window or a  crew transfer vehicle home, they can stop over at station and make use of the heavier life support recyclers that usually aren't practical on ships that go places.  Also a place to collect rescuees before shopping them all to Kerbin in one cheap launch.

Orbital construction.  Staging area for missions with reusable transfer vehicles, refuelers, and landers. The list goes on.

Almost forgot: KSPI-E beamed power reactor/solar stations.


Edited by Kyrt Malthorn
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For the science! You may as well stay a while after going to all the trouble to get there.


A station makes a good "base camp" for further explorations and can act as a back-up habitat(to await rescue) if things go wrong.

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Functionally Stations are good for:

  • Fuel Depos.
  • Science Labs.
  • Bus stops for landers which can ferry kerbals between Kerbin moons.
  • A rally point for Kerbals.
  • Orbital Docks for modular vehicles.
  • Orbital Docks for upgrading current vehicles via KIS.
  • Spaceport overall. For keeping all types of spaceships in one place.
  • Small scale construction of satellites and stuff if you have OSE_Workshop and KIS.
  • Large scale construction if you have Extraplanetary Launchpads + preferably with MKS or Pathfinder
  • Resource Depos for dumping Exotic Minerals from freighters before bringing them to Kerbin on an SSTO/Shuttle. ExoticMinerals are available in OSE_Workshop, MKS and Pathfinder mods.
  • Targets for tourist contracts if you have Contract Configurator and the Tourism Plus contract pack.
  • Targets for the Kerbin Space Station contract pack.
  • KSPI-E microwave power beamers.

What have I missed?

Edited by Enceos
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For the nth time - Fuel Depots

Maybe the same thing or implied - A staging area where I keep different types of craft. I may have a Kerbin to mun shuttle dock with the mun station and then transfer to a mun lander. I could just dock the mun lander with the kerbin-mun shuttle I guess. However, I have two landers - one with a very high kerbal capacity, and a small one with science equipment. Also my stations are sort of docking adapters, as they have 0.625, 1.25, and 2.5m docking connections.

Communication relays : While its there, I may as well add communication equipment to make it also function as a relay sat (unless its an LKO station) - perhaps multiple RA-100s to make it more powerful than a standard relay sat.

Career only:

Science point factory and a place to level up crew.

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11 hours ago, regex said:

Science labs

This ^^

I play at 10% science return, so it's pretty important to lab the nuts off everything. Mostly it's just an excuse to build stations because a space program without stations doesn't feel real...

Most recent:


Upcoming: one in low homeworld orbit that will receive all the transmitted science from Science Relay :)

Edited by eddiew
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1) Science labs:  I play Community Tech tree, and the 10k science node can be hard to get to without a few labs scattered about.

2) Kerbal Accumulation point:  I run a lot of rescue missions to fund my space program, and find victims volunteers for my planetary colonies. It is far more efficient to pick them up in a RCS powered lawn chair, gather them at a station, then recover them in groups with a single orbital launch.

3) Tourist Hotel:  allows me to use my high capacity Kerbin LKO launcher efficiently to move groups of tourists to orbit, then send them to their destination with high efficiency, space only ships

4) Spaceport:  Like an airport, but in Space!

5) Fuel depot:  All these interplanetary missions are far more efficient if you reuse craft, and skip the Kerbin to LKO step.  also, all those places its easy to get fuel into space are not necessarily the places you need all the fuel.    

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In the past, my stations have mostly just been used either for science labs or for fulfilling station-building contracts. In future, I have more varied plans for my stations:

  • Science station - for increasing science data from experiments (very important when I play with low science yields)
  • Spaceport - a place for docking several spacecraft, such as landers and interplanetary vessels
  • Space dock - a station for storing many copies of spacecraft modules, so that interplanetary vehicles can be easily retrofitted
  • Resource depot - an uncrewed space station for storing large amounts of various resources
  • Base assembly station - for cases when a surface base needs to be fully assembled before it is landed, a station will be used for storing base components until they have all arrived, and then for keeping base components all in the same place as the base is constructed in orbit
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You can enter a space station challenge (unfortunately this one closed a long time ago) and make something like this.





The station (called KOSTAR) included four mini landers that could (just about) do a trip to the Mun surface and return to the station, plus the four arms could detach and return the whole crew to the surface of Kerbin.



Almost forgot that I made a sort of documentary style video about it (well the launch of the first couple of components anyway).


Edited by purpleivan
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As others have said, FOR SCIENCE!

Sometimes I send average-sized modules and construct them one section at a time:


And other times, send up the whole whopping thing in one launch:



But in  the end, my Stations are more like Ships in that they (almost) always pack enough fuel and thrusters to get them to whatever far-flung celestial body they may be assigned to.


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They look pretty and are fun to assemble. And of course, if an unruly Kerbal begins to question your decision to dive a 747-sized spaceplane into Kerbol, you can always send them to a bare tin can orbiting Dres where they can't cause any more... trouble.

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