A Surface Port is a planetary or lunar outpost with open docking facilities for ships and SRVs. They range in size from small settlements to larger, semi-enclosed cities, and can be located with the planetary map of a landable body. Various services and exclusive mission types are available. Some Surface Ports offer exclusive Commodities that cannot be procured elsewhere. Local security forces utilize both ships and Skimmers.
Surface Ports differ from Settlements in that the latter have no docking facilities. Surface Ports are identifiable in the Navigation pane as having an icon three buildings: one small, one medium, and one large. Settlements have an icon with just two buildings and an antenna.
Surface Port Types
There are three different types of Surface Ports: Planetary Outposts, Planetary Ports, and Workshops. The first two function identically and differ only in layout and size, while the third is a special type of Surface Port used exclusively by Engineers.
Planetary Outposts are small Surface Ports most commonly found in low-population systems with slow economies, as well as the most common type of Surface Port. They have a variable number of Landing Pads and multiple unique layouts. In general, Landing Pads are scattered in clusters around a series of habitation structures, cargo holding facilities, and roads, with defense turrets installed on the outskirts. Skimmers patrol throughout the area.
Planetary Ports are large Surface Ports most commonly found in high-population systems with bustling economies. All Planetary Ports have the same number of Landing Pads, and generally-identical layouts with some minor variation in the placement of the central structures. The Landing Pads are always built into the ring-like structure encircling the main domes and towers, which has a groundside entrance that can be used by SRVs to enter and exit the Surface Port.
Workshops are a unique type of Surface Port exclusively used by Engineers. There are a total of 26 Workshops, including the defunct Palin Research Centre in Maia, making them the rarest type of Surface Port. Unlike Planetary Outposts and Ports, Workshops will not appear in system maps unless a pilot has been invited by the Engineers that own them; they can still be reached by manually navigating using their coordinates, but the Engineers will refuse to offer their services.
After meeting the various access requirements for an Engineer, their Workshop can be used to modify modules and increase reputation with that Engineer, which unlocks higher grades of mods. Workshops can also be remotely accessed to make modifications after meeting an Engineer provided a specific blueprint has been pinned.
Ship and SRV Docking
- Main article: Docking
Surface Ports are the terrestrial equivalent of Starports. Ships can request to dock at a Surface Port once they are within a 7.5 km radius of it. Rather than having to pass through an Access Corridor, however, the Landing Pads of a Surface Port are arranged openly. Care should be taken while docking on high-gravity planets, as some ship's thrusters may not be able to adequately slow their descent to the Landing Pad, resulting in damage to shields or the hull upon contact with the surface.
After securing a ship within a hangar, the pilot can also deploy an SRV via one of the Surface Port's garages. To return to the ship afterward, the pilot must make a docking request with the Surface Port, then follow the nav-compass to the nearest garage and use the Role Panel to initiate boarding. Note that if a ship is docked at a Surface Port while the pilot is using an SRV, the ship cannot be recalled to the pilot's location unless they drive outside of the Surface Port's docking request range.