Cyborg IM1 wrote:
If reaction mass it so precious and depending on how to do residual velocity with Jump, there could be a Transfer Station located at the 100D limit, so the big boys don't even have to move into orbit. Then the Transfer Station puts the Modules/Pods into orbits as desired by the world.
On a very busy world, there could be a LOT of modules floating around and ships would be limited to specific entry/exit paths to avoid those floaters.
The idea is that solar systems have different angular velocity to each other. I think the moment you get rid of reactionless thrusters, reaction mass will be precious and the 500-pound gorilla lurking in the room of space travel. A high mass ship like a megafreighter probably wants to maintain a certain velocity at all times. They'd run "circuits" of systems (maybe three or more systems), chosen for their distance (a factor in Jump) and their relative angular velocities to each other (a factor in accelerating).
The moment freighter jumps in, it's already moving with an eye towards matching its velocity to the delivery planet but this is a compromise - it also has to be planning for the angular velocity of the next system it is going to visit. All will is pretty much bent towards having the cargo ship spend as little time in the system as possible since time is money and easing its trip to the next system down, utilizing things like gravity slinging and solar sails to reduce reaction mass usage. I don't see the big freighters ever "stopping" at a transfer station; all transfers of cargo and even personnel are done while the freighter is hurtling through the system by lighters that match the velocity (with some "slowing" by the freighter). Since the frieghters are ramjet designs (again, they're not ramscoops - they don't use the stuff they scoop for fusion reactions and thrust to approach some % of lightspeed or whatever) - refilling reaction mass would actually be done by droneships releasing a "cloud" of the relevant gas in the path that the freighter will take, then the freighter activating its scoop when it flies through the cloud; because not every system would have the infrastructure to do this, it can only be done in more advanced systems, they'd have reserves of reaction mass for systems without it so they could visit systems without such services.
Since a system like this is going to have a certain slack, the cargo containers would be capable of their own course corrections and velocity matching to the target planet. The more capable the cargo containers are of course corrections and adjusting their own velocity, the less space they have for cargo and the more expensive the containers are, so there's a trade-off there as well - they'd probably use a combination of "thrusters" and solar sails to match velocity. Of course, as you said, instead of matching the planet, more advanced systems might have a transfer station whose job is to "catch" the cargo containers, greatly increasing the profitability of cargo hauling since those systems could use very basic cargo containers, likely thrown in the direction of a gigantic dispersed magnetic accelerators which would "catch" the containers and slowly match their velocity to the accelerator, at which point lighters could pick up the containers and fly them to their destination or whatever.
Setting up flight paths like this would be complex and painstaking, involving precise measurements of angular velocities and orbits of multiple bodies in multiple star systems. Then the freighters themselves would be very tightly run ships. The crews of such ships dealing with endless problems that'd crop would be the subject of countless documentaries about "marvels of our modern age" on vids ("However, because the pods for New Jerusalem have leaked their reaction mass due and Captain Sanchez can't spare them from the Lumiere's tanks to refill them, the crew have a discussion about what they can do about it. The last resort, of course, is for the pods to be jettisoned, but she is well aware that inside the pods of tons of goods, correspondence, the lifeline between worlds, so she's reluctant to do this. Master Chief Wu has a suggestion - by angling the ship's solar sails, they can make the entire freighter spin on its axis. By using the unloading arms extended out to their full 100 meter length, they could "pitch" the pods like a baseball pitcher to the awaiting station. Wu's preliminary numbers look good...")