PSO J318.5-22 is a larger setup, which I built over several months in late 2019, early 2020 and was able to assemble and “exhibit” in April 2020. You can find more about PSO J318.5-22 on Wikipedia.

The Beginning

The whole story started after the SteinCHenwelt 2019, after which I was a bit lost and it was not clear in which direction I should continue building. I had enough spaceships, vehicles, bases etc. and I also ran out of ideas. So as a basic idea for a next step, I experimented with a 48×48 baseplate, on which I put a landing baseplate on stilts. I had this picture in mind for some time and started to realize something. Then I started to build some “rocks”, I started to distribute some LURPS and BURPS and build something like rocks, on the rocks a baseplate can be built, I added some more 48×48 plates, I built the newest LEGO space station (set 60227) as part of the new base …. The idea was basically to create a diorama with small bases and stations on a rocky / rugged landscape, not on the ground but built on the individual rocks on top of it. The “fissured” landscapes are built from different grey stones, slabs etc. on a base plate, i.e. by far not a multi-layered stone landscape, which is fully modelled, but rather built in a somewhat stylized way from what is there and on a base plate as ground.

After I had a group of 4 48×48 plates in a square, the first phase was over and the construction table was also full. At that time (end of 2019) the LEGO exhibition at the planetarium Kreuzlingen became more concrete and I wanted to exhibit my diorama there. However, I had the wish to enlarge and extend the diorama a little bit and so I planned a simple floor plan in and then built the individual plates and tried to design the interface to the corresponding plate correctly and to make sure that the transitions were consistent. Also for each plate I didn’t have a concrete plan but a few loose ideas in my head, which were then developed further bit by bit during the building process, depending on how it looked like, what worked, what didn’t work, etc. The planetary landscape was then extended with baseplates from the Classic Space series to create a simple spaceport. Additionally I added Obiwan’s hut, simply because it fitted in well.

With that the “content” of the diorama was created: An outpost on a planet, where the main purpose is the exploitation of minerals by means of various drilling stations, combined with a simple spaceport for transport logistics and as a base of operations for further planetary exploration.

When all events were cancelled due to the Corona crisis, I used the Easter weekend to set up the diorama completely on the terrace:

A lot is happening on PSO J318.5-22

The basic structure of the base is as follows:

  • On one side (the right part of the base in the photo) is the small spaceport with landing fields, roads and flight control (The small base from the LL-928 set). The spacecraft on site are the LL-928, the Eagle, LL-924, LL-918, the Sound Transmitting Crusier and the Galaxy Commander. Landing is the small shuttle and departing is the XT Starship. The spaceport is primarily intended as a base of operations for further exploration of the planet and was built after the installations for mineral extraction.
  • On the left side is the production area in the rocky landscape of PSO J318.5-22 with the drilling stations, the elevated landing field and the various small stations.

Here you can find a video in which the different photos of PSO J318.5-22 were cut together, so you get a good overview how the diorama looks like in total:

Here are now the different scenes described in more detail for those who are interested. Basically, aliens or other characters that do not belong to the astronaut corps can be ignored. After all, no other life forms have been found on any planets so far!

This is the original core, with the elevated landing field in the foreground and a commando/science station and a small drilling station. These were the first installations on PSO J318-5-22 and were actually only planned for a short period of operation. The landing field was therefore elevated in order to save the work of levelling and clearing the boulders, since in the beginning the work was expected to be short and not worth the effort.
The minerals are brought from the small drilling station via the science station to the landing field and loaded into the transporter. The transporter is a modified Starfleet Voyager, here not in the rescue version but as a mineral transporter (hence the different paint scheme).
In the foreground you can still see the transport train from the other drilling station, which also delivers minerals.

The base consists of two elements connected by a small transport system. On the right of the picture (adjacent to the landing field) is the command and science station, on the left is the drilling station. From the drilling station minerals are brought on the transport sledge by a laser drill and then transported to the science station for analysis (yellow lamps inside, green bowls outside). The scanning system is used to categorize and record the quantity. Likewise, any useless or hazardous substances are detected and separated and stored in the wall containers. The remaining minerals are then further transported by rail to the landing field and loaded.

The scanning system for close-up mineral analysis:

On the left the green measuring instruments, on the right the yellow sensors for the categorization and identification of the minerals and possible detection of hazardous substances, which are then stored in the wall containers.

The drilling station consists of a double drilling unit in the typical laser drill configuration. Appropriate warning lights provide feedback on the status of the unit. Necessary tools are stored on site, ladders allow, if necessary, to maintain and exchange the drills from above. A green warning light has to be replaced, unfortunately the wrong spare parts were delivered with the last supply flight ….

An additional landing field will be built near the drilling station to facilitate transportation of the drilling station and the geological laboratory (more on this later) with spare parts, personnel, etc. While a member of the construction crew together with the robot helper is laying the fireproof pavement, the Space Digger is bringing the next base plate. The exact positioning of the base plate is coordinated via radio between the instructor on the ground (orange space train with white helmet and air tanks) and the pilot.

The pilot must always make corrections to hold the position.

Tile layers are also required on PSO

The supports for the base plate are already in place.

The coordinator on the ground and the pilot must work well together

The geological laboratory was originally a space station that should have orbited around the Beta Moon. However, when the potential of PSO was recognized and the scientific infrastructure was quickly expanded, the space station was converted and installed as a geology laboratory. The laboratory consists of three modules, which are directly supplied with energy by the corresponding solar sails. A research satellite is used as the 4th module to perform local measurements of solar winds etc.

From here, among other things, exploratory missions are organized in order to record possible mineral deposits and to determine further locations for mining stations.

Rock samples are also transported by drones which deliver the samples to the appropriate loading hatch of the geological laboratory.

In the Geo-Lab ….

Drill Station 2 was used as the first extension of the mining installations on PSO. Largely autonomously, a laser drill is used to extract high-energy minerals from the rock. The computer-controlled system transports the material to the analysis computer and stores special pieces in the container. A geologist is notified by the station if necessary. The station can be reached via the landing field.

The Twin Shuttle brings a technician by to check the settings and reconfigure them if necessary.

With the 2nd drilling station the energy demand also slowly increased. Fortunately, PSO is able to use geothermal energy and therefore built a geothermal generator of the latest generation. A communication station for interstellar connections was built on the neighboring rock, because the need for communication also increased. Thus, PSO remains connected to the Earth, the Alpha and the Beta system. The various stations are connected to the communication station via short-range radio.

The geothermal generator generates its energy from the planet’s interior. The blue radiator is used to radiate excess heat if necessary to prevent the generator from overheating. The generator is the first of its kind and therefore a bit maintenance-prone. A high performance computer is necessary to control the generator and keep it in optimum condition. Via the small radar antenna (in the foreground) the parameters are always transmitted so that a maintenance technician can be dispatched immediately if necessary.

After the inspection is completed, the Small Shuttle Craft moves on to the next operation …

Since PSO is currently in a rather dangerous region on its journey through the depths of space, measuring instruments and radiation collectors have been installed throughout the mining area. These serve as a diverter for the dangerous radiation and thus help to protect the crew. They also provide scientific data and serve as an early warning system.

Also these systems have to be calibrated and maintained by human operators again and again. In addition, the computer stations on site allow the science officers to adapt the characteristics and functionality of the collectors to the situation. The radiation is currently extremely dynamic and sometimes the conditions are outside the parameters, so that a complete new programming of the collector system is necessary. Here we see one of the scientists on the way to install the final update.

Obi Wan’s hut is one of the few private facilities in the expedition corps and is currently tolerated. PSO does not offer much except work and a resourceful technician used a soft sandstone formation and carved a small bar out of the rock. There the staff can relax during the break and turn a blind eye on a few things. The small landing platform makes the whole facility accessible and is the only part of the bar that was not hewn out of the sandstone but appeared overnight next to the bar. The bar is not served, everyone brings what they want and sometimes leaves something behind …

The expedition leaders are not looking too closely at the moment, as the work on PSO is hard and monotonous, but how much longer remains to be seen. Prospectors have already identified the rock below the hut as a possible access to rich deposits of essential minerals … Since Obi Wan’s hut has no owner and no one knows who built it, the future is uncertain.

Unfortunately, accidents sometimes happen on PSO as well. In this case a courier plane hit one of the collector antennas.

An inspection team is on hand to salvage the wreck, but also to search for possible contamination from the engine.

Fortunately, nothing else happened to the pilot and no other equipment was damaged. However, the cause of the collision is still unclear, since there were actually normal visibility conditions and there was no reason to fly so low.

Although the main focus of the construction of the facilities on PSO is the mining of raw materials, the scientific team was able to push through the construction of an antenna. Since PSO is currently located in a very interesting inter-stellar environment, a multi-purpose antenna was installed to receive and analyze background microwave radiation.

The GW reception system is also part of the scientific infrastructure. The GW receiver system is mainly used to look for gravitational waves (do you recognize the triangular arrangement for the construction of an interferometer?), since the collision of black holes is suspected in the vicinity and one wants to be warned accordingly.

Science Station 1 is also part of the scientific infrastructure, but this is a PSO atmosphere study and possible predictions of sandstorms and extreme weather events. Based on the prevailing wind direction, the composition of the atmosphere and the amount, type and size of particles are analyzed.

Since the system is broken at the moment, a technician was sent to repair it.

The actual drilling stations consist of 2 substations, one with a high power laser drill to follow the mineral vein to the current depth of 5km.

The triple drilling system was installed to follow the very wide but narrow vein to depth. These drills are less about power than precision because the vein is very narrow and one wants to avoid contamination from the toxic surrounding rock.

The analysis station at the exit of the drilling station serves as a measuring station to determine the degree of purity and to ensure that the degradation products are safe for transport

A transport system transports the minerals to the analysis station, where the composition of a batch is precisely checked and catalogued. The information is given to the batch before it is loaded onto the monorail for transport.

Loading onto the monorail is done by a remote controlled arm. Since the desired minerals are located within a larger vein of very toxic and sometimes explosive rock, there are various sensors and warning systems (note the red and green warning lights) that record and display the condition. Once before, an explosion almost destroyed Station 3, only thanks to the containment system the damage was limited to the monorail.

The control station performs two main tasks per day, one is the control and management of the two drilling stations including rock monitoring and geophysical investigations of the extracted rock. It is hoped that the two drilling stations will drill deeper than any other station on PSO and that the excavation, consistency, rock composition etc. will provide new insights into where PSO actually comes from and how the planet was formed. The secrets of PSO have not yet been unlocked, but it is only a matter of time.

Drill Station 3 required additional energy and since the latest generation drills are extremely sensitive to energy fluctuations, an additional energy generator and stabilizer was installed at the station.

The monorail transports the minerals to the loading platform, where they are then flown by a space freighter to the earth system for further processing.

The monorail was already in use before the construction of the spaceport and was concerted as a practical solution for transport between two elevated points. A simple shuttle train travels back and forth between drilling station 3 and the loading ramp.

Meanwhile, the monorail has become an anachronism and consideration is being given to replacing it with either vehicles or shuttle flights. In the meantime the rails will continue to dominate the picture on PSO.

As more and more infrastructure has been set up on PSO, it was decided to upgrade the infrastructure to PSO and to build a much larger site and stay on PSO for longer. Thus the construction of research stations, housing units, maintenance facilities and bases for longer expeditions are planned. Therefore, the funds have been approved to build a spaceport and start levelling larger areas on PSO. The resulting spaceport will be the nucleus of the further development of PSO. At the moment the spaceport is used either for research flights or to transport goods and materials.