Multi-Purpose Mining Craft “Hephaestus” joined the fleet after it had jumped away from Earth, having previously been the heart of the Alpha C5 mining colony. All its workforce lived on the ship as a matter of necessity, as no base was established on Alpha C5 itself, so it was thankfully able (along with its companion the Memorandum) to bring everyone from the mining colony with it.
The Hephaestus is a big, grimy lump of a spaceship, designed to extract ore from planets or asteroids as efficiently as possible, and to manufacture anything that might be required in a mining settlement away from Earth - not only its own spare parts, but standard crewmember equipment, repairs for any visiting spaceships, etc. As such, while most of its bulk is taken up with drilling, chemical processing and refining process equipment, there are also large workshops and a hangar deck with a repairs team.
When mining a planet, the Hephaestus would land and then stay in position on the surface, slowly mining as much as it could for the cargo transport ships which came regularly to ship its production back to Earth. However, as standard with the Multi-Purpose Mining Craft, it was also equipped at build with a set of grapples which will allow it to travel with medium-sized asteroids attached to it while mining is ongoing. These have recently been given an overhaul by the crew since the ship joined the fleet, allowing it to harvest an asteroid on route if required for raw materials. Captain Layne Cosh admits, however, that they don't really know what to do with the material their ship is producing at the moment - its production lines were set up for Earth's needs, not that of a fleet or a new colony. They're sure, however, that they'll soon figure out something useful to do with all the iron ore currently in storage.
The Hephaestus and the Memorandum had been at Alpha C5 together for over a year before departure - their crews therefore know each other well and are used to working together, albeit with all the long-term petty resentments that have also built up over that time.
Life on a mining colony is not easy - the ship is built for functionality, not comfort - and traditionally the crews of mining ships are replaced at 6-month intervals, with each crew enjoying a 3-month downtime back on Earth before being redeployed to a different ship. The crew of the Hephaestus were approaching the end of their 6-month stint when they had to join the fleet and head for outer space, and although they have continued working diligently to ensure the ship stays functional and all required manufacturing/repair work is carried out, it's now several more months down the line and they are reaching the end of their tethers. A number of small accidents have occurred recently, thankfully without injury. All have been blamed on exhaustion by the ship's Chief Engineer, Salma Rhozali: she says that her crew simply must be allowed to stand down soon, particularly when half their workload at present is vital repair work to everyone's ships which puts people's lives at risk if done poorly. The capability exists on the Memorandum to train additional workers; few others have yet volunteered for these dirty, necessary jobs.
Captain of the Hephaestus. A thoughtful, generally mild-mannered person, they nonetheless can get quite enthusiastic about mining opportunities. They are not the most sociable of people, but are generally well-liked by the crew for their dedication to detail when a problem requires their attention.
Chief Engineer of the Hephaestus, Salma is responsible not only for the machinery under her care but also the organisation of the workers using it. Having originally come from Morocco and proven her worth on UC ships the hard way as an outsider, she has no time for nonsense - but equally, as over-stretched as the Hephaestus's workforce has become, she also no longer has time for many things that she knows she probably should be paying attention to.