One of the largest space states is UK-1, the largest ship ever built and also the base of the United Kingdom. UK-1’s ruler, Richard Windsor, would be king of Great Britain if Great Britain still had a throne. As it is, he is one of the system’s richest men with a kingdom of 7437 subjects. UK-1 itself is an asteroid mining ship.
King Richard might not have a throne, but that doesn’t stop him dreaming.
UK-1 is the largest spaceship ever built by humans and consists of seventeen massive wheels spinning around a common axis. The wheels are designated A through Q. Everything from N wheel sternwards is dedicated to propulsion or power, and F wheel is kept exclusively for the use of the kign and his staff. It is therefore colloquially known as “the palace”.
There is also a stationary strake running the entire length of UK-1 on both sides, to which ships of the Royal Space Fleet and others can dock. The ship has a population of seven thousand four hundred and thirty seven: some of these are crew, some other employees of the United Kingdom, and some just families of the above.
Apart from constituting the territorial extent of the United Kingdom in 2149, UK-1’s primary purpose is an asteroid mining ship. Although capable of manoeuvring like any other ship, it spends most of its time in the asteroid belt. Surveyor craft will go on ahead and scout out asteroids likely to be worth mining: these are then nudged together into convenient clusters, waiting for UK-1 to turn up, at which time exploitation can begin.
Of course, this clustering also signals to every freelance miner in the system that those asteroids are worth working. UK-1 also keeps a small fleet of sweep ships, whose job is to patrol the belt and scare off any freelance miners who look like they might want to stake their own claims. Sweep duty is considered the lowest form of service in the Roual Space Fleet, and is usually how people begin their careers, before moving on to better things.
Michael Gilmore is the exception to this rule: we first meet him as captain of the sweep ship HMS Australasia, and he is reasonably certain his career is winding down.