Astra Cartographer is as a fast survey ship owned and operated by the Astra Consortium. It was designed for exploring uncharted star systems, collecting relevant navigational and geophysical data, and evaluating worlds for colonization and/or commercial exploitation. The ship was designed to rapidly acquire sensor data in each of the systems it explores, which is subsequently sold to planetary government and commercial space operators.
The ship was designed for high speed transit, with powerful engines capable of reaching transition speed in four minutes. It was equipped with an array of powerful sensors capable of comprehensive planetary survey in a single orbital pass. Its weaponry was minimal, as its primary tactical option was high-speed retreat. It was built, along with its sister ships, at Hyperion spaceyards.
The ship has two aeroshuttles tucked underneath the structure that connects the crew pod with the engine pods. These can be used to dock with other ships or conducts surface exploration of worlds when necessary.
Circa Solar Year 7385, Astra Cartographer rendezvoused with Orion Fleet in the Terra System having beaten the fleet there by several weeks by taking a shortcut through the Chandrasekhar Starlock. Honoria Keeler subsequently negotiated with William Keeler for sale of the survey information the ship had gathered in the system (WA Book 12 – Earth)
- Astra Cartographer carries a crew of 9-11 humans + 1 AI. To maximize efficiency, all crew were cross-trained on all ship functions. During transition, up to ten crew members could be held in stasis.
- Captain Simon Den Beste– From Bella La Cava colony, formerly an officer on a Free Worlds Alliance Battle Cruiser (The Facestomper). An enigmatic individual, skilled captain, great fighter. If true to type, he harbors a grim, dark secret, but he harbors it pretty well, so no one is really aware of it.
- Mission Chief Honoria Keeler, of Sapphire. She is the niece of Bernadette Keeler, current matriarch of the Keeler clan. Her mother was Bernadette's sister, and her father was Panrovian. She’s ambitious, trying to advance herself in the Keeler clan, but still retains a sense of humor and wonder at the worlds she explores. She is the chief negotiator for her ship, and very hardcore about it.
- Gamaliel Suzuki, Republicker ex-pat living on Sapphire at the time of his assignment. Realizing that he did not have the connections or aptitude to make command grade on a New Commonwealth ship, he left the Space Service and emigrated to Sapphire specifically to work with the Astra Consortium's Survey Fleet. His primary function is ship’s science officer, but as with all the others, he has been trained in helm, navigation, and weapons. He is socially unskilled, but Captain Good regards him as a genius (an opinion not universally shared) and tolerates his eccentricities.
- Nicodemus Rhodes – Ship's Engineer. A third generation inhabitant of Loki and one of the designers of the Astra series of starships.
- 4 – The ship’s AI. (Cartographer was the fourth Astra Survey Ship.) 4 was lost during the Battle of Terrastar and replaced by the entity known as Persephone.
- Rig Taylor – Mission Specialist, A native of Denali colony and long-time member of the Denali Scouts, an organization devoted to action, adventure, and outdoorsmanship. His primary mission is handling ground level exploration, but he is also trained on the full range of ship systems. Brother of Sky Taylor. (Rig Taylor remained in the Terran System after the Events of the Battle of Terrastar and was replaced by Aard Gage).
- Sky Taylor - Mission Specialist, A native of Denali colony and long-time member of the Denali Scouts, an organization devoted to action, adventure, and outdoorsmanship. His primary mission is handling ground level exploration, but he is also trained on the full range of ship systems. Brother of Rig Taylor. (SkyTaylor remained in the Terran System after the Events of the Battle of Terrastar and was replaced by Max Jordan)
- Aard "Thunder Cat" Gage – Mission Tactical Specialist. Wolf’s Head. Rebellious son of one of the planet’s Chieftains.
- Steadfast Modesty – Mission Specialist, a refugee from the oppressive Theocracy that took over the planet Aurora after the Synerplexes collapsed. Trained combat Medic and veteran of the Ecco 1 AI wars.
- Helena-1404 – Data Specialist, A clone of Specialist Brainciacsdaughter who stowed away when the ship was docked at Chapterhouse Starlock. She was allowed to stay on because her negotiating skills complemented those of Honoria Keeler, and she was willing to take on the tedious task of cataloguing data acquired by the team.
- Astra Surveyor
- Astra Geomancer
- Astra Lodestar
- Astra Liahona
- Astra Compass
- Astra Traveler
- Astra Navigator
- Astra Voyager
- Astra Express – Executive Transport used primarily by Bernadette Keeler.