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"All right, Mr. White: pop the cork."
—Captain Benjamin Mathius[1]
DSR Ishimura Planet Crack Concept

The USG Ishimura engaging in its planet cracking operations.

Planet Cracking is the process of literally cracking open entire planets or moons in order to mine them for valuable resources. The operation is carried out by dedicated vessels known as "planet crackers", which were invented in the mid-25th century with the USG Ishimura.

Overview[]

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Engineers preparing planet cracking equipment.

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An engineer setting up a gravity tether.

"Planet cracking is a lengthy process typically spanning from three to five years. Generally, the first year is spent prospecting and setting up the planetside colony. To minimize losses, these colonies are intentionally a light outlay in terms of infrastructure. The next eighteen months involve tectonic excavation, gravity tether maintenance, and related planetside activities. The planet cracker arrives between the 2.5 and 3 year mark, depending on the progress of excavation. Once the ship is in orbit, preparation for tectonic chunk extraction begins. This takes approximately one week. The removal of an excavated chunk from the planet into a stabilized geosynchronous orbit usually takes about 1 day (24 standard hours). During this process, billions of tons of debris break off from the underside of the chunk, creating an instant asteroid ring around the planet. While the floating debris is extremely dangerous, planet cracker ships have an excellent Asteroid Defense System (ADS) to keep the ship and crew safe from harm. [...] This process is repeated until the entire planetary body has been broken up and processed. Smaller bodies, such as asteroids, are drawn into the mining bays and processed directly, using direct processing beams to reduce waste."
—"Planetary Mining - An Investor's Guide"[2]

The first step of planet cracking is determining a planet rich with the desired minerals and ores via extensive surveying. Once this is done, a colony is established in a ring-like shape around a site about a kilometer across, and powerful gravity tethers are built while mining operations are carried out to carve around the planet piece to be removed. Once ready, tethers onboard the colony and a Planet Cracker-class ship in orbit are used to break off the massive piece, which is hauled into space and brought inside the ship where it is stripped and its ore content is studied.

The USG Ishimura, built in 2446 and owned by the Concordance Extraction Corporation, was the first and the largest of the planet crackers, as well as one of the first capital starships to be outfitted with a ShockPoint Drive. The planet crackers use gravity tethers to pull massive sections of a planet up to be processed from within the vessel's mining deck. Over the history of the CEC's planet cracking endeavors, prior to Aegis VII, only one operation of three dozen met with less-than-optimal results.

History[]

"Planetcracking first became feasible in the decades following the discovery of the Unified Field Theory, which allowed us to control the gravitron in the same manner we were accustomed to controlling the electron. With the advent of large-scale applications of gravitron control, it became clear to the mining consortiums they had a new tool at hand. Shockpoint drives were in their infancy, so extrasolar mining was out of the question - and the dangers of planetcracking were still unknown. Saturn's moon Titan was selected as the sight of the first "moon harvest", as it was known back then. Saturn was as far from Earth as the consortiums were willing to work and still have reasonable access to timely supplies and support. A large colony was established on Titan to study the moon's every seismic detail and prepare it for disassembly. As the operation got under way, the orbital platforms that assisted with the work became the prototypes for the planetcrackers that would soon follow."
—"United Spacefaring Guild History series - TITAN STATION: CONQUERING A MOON"[3][4]
DSR Planet Cracking Art

A planet crack in progress.

Around 2446, the first planet cracking operation was successfully completed in Earth's solar system on Titan, one of Saturn's moons, which was repeatedly cracked and mined until it was almost entirely gone. The remains of the moon formed the basis of Titan Station.

Around 2497, a mining operation accident known as the "Wanat Disaster" resulted in a planet cracker, three supply ships and the colony lost due to gravity tether failure. Since that time, the CEC worked closely with manufacturers and held crew training lectures to ensure that such a disaster did not happen again.

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CEC engineers setting up planet cracking equipment.

By the time of the Aegis VII disaster in 2508, the CEC owned at least five Planet Crackers. The Ishimura herself was dispatched to carry out the illegal planet crack of Aegis VII after a colony had been established on the planet two and a half years prior. An outbreak of Necromorphs resulting from the discovery of a Red Marker on the planet's surface (and being subsequently brought onboard the Ishimura) killed nearly everyone on the ship and the colony with only a handful of survivors. After an EMP blast from the Marker shut down several important gravity tethers holding up the piece of extracted rock, it fell back down onto Aegis VII, wiping out both the infestation and the few surviving colonists and also destroying the planet, which was left unstable and exploded sometime later, while the Ishimura was sent drifting aimlessly into deep space before being recovered by EarthGov.

The decommissioning and eventual destruction of the Ishimura, as well as the publicized disaster of Aegis VII, caused planet cracking to lose its credibility as a business. As a result, unemployment numbers in the CEC grew drastically.[5][6]

Dangers[]

"You may have read "environmentalist" reports claiming the destruction of a planet can destroy an entire solar system, due to the disruption in the gravitation forces that hold each celestial object in orbit. Some of the wilder reports claim this causes the whole system to spin out of control, or planets to smash into each other. We would direct concerned investors to the article "Safe and Sustainable: CEC's Pledge to the Health of Our Galaxy" for a detailed breakdown of the truths about planet cracking. The short answer is: planet cracking is perfectly safe and provides an essential service to Earth and the colonies. [...] Critics often cite the Wanat Disaster 11 years ago wherein a planet cracker, three supply ships, and a colony were lost due to a gravity tether failure. They rarely mention that since that time, CEC has strengthened relationships with our manufacturers, committed to regular crew training seminars, and implemented safety protocols to ensure a disaster of that magnitude can never happen again."
—"Planetary Mining - An Investor's Guide"[2]
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A CEC poster about planet cracking.

It is claimed by some that planet cracking operations are potentially very destructive, as they can result in significant disruptions of a planet's gravity and geology, possibly rendering it uninhabitable. Once a planetary body has been sufficiently mined away, the gravity of an entire area of space can be affected, potentially disrupting an entire solar system.

Should enough of the gravity tethers installed on the colony fail, or if the ship in orbit suffers failures in its own tether system, or even becomes unable to maintain altitude, the massive piece of harvest rock it is carrying can make planetfall and cause catastrophic damage. The damage can range from wiping out all life on the planet and rendering it uninhabitable to even potentially causing its complete destruction and obliterate anything in the area. Whether or not this is what happened with the Wanat Disaster is uncertain but entirely possible.

Known Planet Crackers[]

  • USG Ishimura
  • USG Castle
  • USG Perseus
  • Unidentified CEC Planet Cracker-class ship, destroyed by gravity tether failure in the Wanat Disaster in 2497.
  • Two other unidentified CEC Planet Cracker-class ships.[2]

Text Logs[]

Trivia[]

  • The "Wanat Disaster" was named in reference to production designer and Necromorph creator Ben Wanat, who worked on the original Dead Space game and its sequels and was responsible for much of the series' lore.

Gallery[]

Sources[]

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