Since committing my gross complacency failure last week, I've managed to make up the lost credits and finish outfitting my Cobra Mark III for exploration. I have crossed 113.52 light years with it, exploring systems as I went. I only have 901.2 light years to go to reach my first objective system. Here is the load out of my Cobra.
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As I'm an explorer, not a fighter, my armaments are for defense and last resorts. They do, however, get the job done. I've been interdicted plenty over the last 100 or so light years, and most I've been able to avoid. I've had to blow up a couple of fools. I ran like a scalded dog from a Viper that had my name written on every shot. I didn't take any significant damage - 96% hull - but he was the only pirate who's ever dropped my shields and he did it in two passes. There is no profit for me in combat, and I'd already scanned enough of the system to pay for my fuel, so I left him to rule the vacuum.
As for my internals, I'm running mostly C rated components. I could have gone with D rated components, which are lighter and increase jump range. But my Cobra will never be an Asp and I'd rather have the increased durability than the jump range. The B rated sensors I bought when I was a new pilot and didn't know any better. I thought they might give me better resolution, and I suppose they do, but not that I'd notice. My real splurge here is my power coupling. I went top of the line because power is life in deep space, everything else is just insurance. One module I haven't upgraded yet is my life support, and I'll be doing that before I leave my current station.
One reason for the upgrade is that I'm just about to the edge of named space. What I mean is there are two more named systems on my route, and after that there is zero information on any of the systems: they are just sector designations and numbers. That means I won't know where or when I'll be able to dock again. Up until now there has been a named system about every three or four jumps. I could land, repair if necessary and refuel. On the initial leg of my journey I just bought fuel. Yesterday I purchased a C rated class 3 fuel scoop to replace one of my cargo bays. The module housing is rated class 4, but the class 3 was affordable and fills my tanks after each jump in a matter of seconds, keeping me topped off at all times. That is, providing the star I've just jumped to is suitable for scooping. Otherwise, I have enough fuel in my tanks to cover about 200 light years without refueling. It's enough to get me to an appropriate star.
So how's it been working out money wise you want to know? Well, it isn't as lucrative as trading. It's also a lot more dangerous. I've scanned 56 systems and been interdicted in at least a third of them. In one system I was interdicted three times by three different pirates. It's frustrating to be mostly done with a surface scan only to have it interrupted by an idiot who can't see I have NO CARGO, but it's never boring, unlike trading. So making money by exploration is a slow process, and don't even think about trying to make it work without a surface scanner. That is required equipment if you're in it to at least cover your costs. I also only have an intermediate discovery scanner. That limits me to 1000 light seconds range. It's omnidirectional, which helps, but if I don't get any planets on my first scan it's just not worth the time to go try to find them. It's easy to lose 30 minutes looking for a gas giant that just isn't going to pay all that much. It's better to jump into a system, skim the corona to top off your tanks, and while that's running activate the d-scan. If it comes back blank, move on to the next system. There are plenty of stars in the galaxy. When you find a good one, then you invest the time to scan it all, or at least as much as the pirates will let you. Over the last dozen or so hours of game play, here are the two systems where I've earned the most credits.
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The first is a T Tauri star; very young with a lot of metal rich and high metal content planets. I actually did not scan the two closets planets as this was the system were the Viper interdicted me. Did I mention I ran like a scalded dog? I could have gotten another 6000 credits in all likelihood, but loosing my ship would have been a high price to pay. Not to mention I wouldn't have gotten the nearly 46k credits I did get.
The second system is a standard Class M star. What makes it valuable is the one world in the system that is suitable for terraforming. What makes this system fascinating is the sixth planet. It is a gas giant with ammonia-based life in its atmosphere! I didn't even know that had been written into the game. I'd never payed much attention to gas giants. When I saw the survey results, I did a little command chair dance. Yes, I was happy for the credits, but discovering non-human life was a thrill I hadn't expected. :D
So far I've not discovered anything that someone else hasn't already scouted. That's okay, there are plenty of stars in the galaxy. I just need to keep heading further away. I am making my way up our spiral arm, as my Cobra lacks the jump distance to travel between arms. That's okay too. That means I'll be jumping into more systems and making more money whether anyone has been there previously or not. And I'm doing fine. I've attained the rank of Scout and by the time I get to my first objective I'm sure it'll be considerable higher. For the record, here's where I stand after my first week of exploration.
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