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It reminds me how ideas I've had for a quest-system of sorts.  Just to give the player something else to do. Having "unknown signals" appear on the map for the player to investigate could def be part of it. Just gotta think of what the rewards would be.  Like free base modules, resources, research points etc

Research points is a good reward indeed cuz the player researched an unknown something. I also just remembered about the future rockets: why not make some parts of the future rocket that are only obtainable there?