Cliffnotes: Early introduction of the XQ Platform series - with small numbers of a slightly worse version of the XQ-1 (named the XQ-O) being made available to Corporate and Planetary buyers in small numbers (50 per year throughout the Empire being the notional sum), allowing a beta test. Details below. It'd provide a cheap, not overpowered, appropriate, station that small worlds could use.
Long request format: The case for a beta test version of the XQ-1 (named the XQ-O) to be sold and the practicalities of it.
The XQ series is all anyone could want in a basic space station. Cheap, adaptable, rugged, not badly armed.
But, we know it's 2 years until the XQ-1 officially comes onto the market. So, well two years ain't a long time is it?
So, I'd like to propose the XQ-O ("Origin") Platform be released to the market now. Given a release across the Galaxy as a "pilot study" (technology companies in the real world often have limited releases of designs to existing customers.
Functionally the station would be identical to the later XQ-1 Platform except with the following downgrades and issues (as all prototypes have):
- Less efficient power management (the SBD of the station's shields are 160 below the later XQ-1).
- Less ergonomic fighter hangars with the result that rearming or refuelling fighters can take 20-50% longer than the XQ-1.
- Crew requirement higher by 100.
- General teething problems, regular power grid fluctuation, regular preventative maintenance required to assure correct functioning of systems.
- "Automated" tractor beams intended to allow freighters to land on the upper surface of the platform appear to be non-functional due to a software error. A patch is promised within the next year. In the meantime a crewman must operate the tractor beam controls by hand to assure a safe landing each time.
- Power cells in the cargo bay door opening mechanisms have been known to fuse or combust resulting the jamming of a bay door until service staff are able to fix it. This is attributed to the unpredictable power network aboard.
Naturally, all of this can be worked around with some time and good engineers. However, the cunning XQ-O transmits encrypted black box recordings of alterations repairs and modifications made to Bengel Shipbuilders with it's weekly software patches. This means that all the modifications and lessons learned by hundreds of techs can be incorporated. These recording devices are -purely- for collecting information on modification and has no ability to access or read data from areas other then Damage Control and Engineering and even within them only details of software and hardware mods being made on the platform.
So, I'd like to propose that the XQ-O Platform is put out for a pilot study and made available to Imperial Corporations and Planetary Governments in small numbers (50 for each of the next two years until the XQ-1 comes out) as a robust and efficient facility for many different uses.
Essentially, this would be the beta-test for a platform which Bengel Shipbuilders needs to work on it's proper release. What better way than selling some prototype replicas and seeing how the locals improve them. On the other hand, they would be priced at 20% the price of a Golan I Defense Platform and half the price of the "Economy" alternative to a Golan or Bavos station, an Armored Defense Platform