Hazards of Space Travel

Space travel is nowhere near as easy as books and movies make it seem. Foreign objects are a constant danger; even a micrometeoroid traveling at a high enough velocity can punch a hole through a starship’s hull and expose the entire crew to the vacuum of space. Ionizing radiation also poses a serious threat. Finally, characters must adapt to the weightlessness of space or suffer the effects of space adaptation syndrome (SAS), referred to colloquially as “space sickness.”

Meteoroids

Meteoroids are small rocks that travel through space at a speed of 7 miles per second. They can be as small as a grain of sand or as big as a mountain. Although they generally burn up in a planet’s atmosphere before reaching the ground, meteoroids in space aren’t likely to suffer such a fate. Instead, they slam into other objects, including starships and space stations, like volleys of rifle or artillery fire.

Unarmored starships and space stations can easily survive impacts from the smaller meteoroids, but larger ones can punch lethal holes in such fragile vessels. Fortunately, large meteoroids are rare and easier to detect before they can get too close to cause any real damage.

Roll on Table: Meteoroid Encounters to determine whether a meteoroid threatens a given starship or space station. Each roll represents one 24-hour period.

Meteoroid Size: The size of the meteoroid.

Collision Damage: When a meteoroid collides with a starship, space station, or other object, both the meteoroid and the object it strikes take damage.

Computer Use Check DC: A starship or space station equipped with a sensor system can detect an incoming meteoroid; doing so requires a successful Computer Use check. A starship or space station cannot attempt to avoid or destroy a meteoroid it fails to detect.

Pilot Check DC: Avoiding a meteoroid requires a successful Pilot check. Only starships or space stations that move are capable of avoiding meteoroids.

Defense: The meteoroid’s Defense.

Hardness: The meteoroid’s hardness.

Hit Points: The meteoroid’s total hit points.

Table: Meteoroid Encounters
d% RollMeteoroid SizeCollision Damage1Computer Use Check DCPilot Check DCDefenseHardnessHit Points
01–75No meteoroid
76–80Diminutive1d63559815
81–85Tiny2d630107830
86–88Small3d625156890
89–91Medium-size4d6202058225
92–94Large1d6x51525481,125
95–97Huge3d6x51030384,500
98–99Gargantuan6d6x5535189,000
100Colossal12d6x5040–3836,000
1 Both the meteoroid and the object it strikes take damage from the collision.

Vacuum Exposure

Beings exposed to the airless cold of space are not immediately doomed. Contrary to popular belief, characters exposed to vacuum do not immediately freeze or explode, and their blood does not boil in their veins. While space is very cold, heat does not transfer away from a body that quickly. The real danger comes from suffocation and ionizing radiation.

For rules on vacuum exposure and the effects of weightlessness, see Atmospheric Conditions and Gravity in the Environments section.

Radiation

Ionizing radiation is common in space. For the effects, see Radiation Sickness in the Environments section.

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