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Blue arrow right.png List of orbital units

An orbital unit prepared to launch from a city

The orbital layer is a new feature added in Civilization: Beyond Earth. Orbital units may provide bonuses to the tiles below them, manipulate miasma, perform ranged attacks, or even transport units across the map.

Orbital units usually are built from cities, but they occasionally can found by Explorers within resource pods. An orbital unit must be launched into the orbital layer before it takes effect. With the notable exception of the Rocktopus once launched, orbital units cannot be moved.

Most orbital units require Petroleum Petroleum to build. The sponsor that specializes in orbital units is the Slavic Federation.

Orbital Coverage[]

Orbital coverage is the area a player is able to launch satellites. Orbital units built in a particular city may be placed anywhere a player has orbital coverage, even if it is halfway across the map. Orbital units cannot be placed in an area that overlaps the radius of an existing orbital unit. The one exception to this rule is the Abyssal Mirror. This wonder allows orbital units launched from city the wonder is constructed in to overlap the coverage area of other Orbital Units by 1 tile.

Each city has a base Orbital Coverage range of 4 hexes. Several buildings, wonders and personality traits can increase this range.

In the Rising Tide expansion, orbital coverage can be found outside a city's radius. Players gain orbital coverage around Firaxite Firaxite deposits when they reach a Supremacy Supremacy level of 5 even those that are covered by Alien Nests. The Comm Relay satellite expands orbital coverage by 5. Using this satellite allows players to leapfrog satellites across the map. When players purchase the orbital cooperation trait from other civilizations, they gain orbital coverage around the stations of the map.

Attack bonuses under orbital coverage[]

  • The Tier 4 Patrol Boats, Cannonade, Argo, Baron and the Tier 4 Submarines, Eradicators have a perk choice that increases +20% Strength Strength in friendly orbital coverage
  • The Tier 2 Autosled, Prime Autosled has a perk choice that increases +30% Strength Strength in friendly orbital coverage.

Players who chose the integrated personality trait gain Strength Strength and Ranged Strength Ranged Strength when under friendly Orbital coverage.


Orbital units can be de-orbited (destroyed) in a few ways:

  • Upon reaching the end of its duration, an orbital unit will de-orbit automatically.
  • Orbital units may be shot down by cities, Missile Rovers and SABRs, LEV Tanks and Rocktopi.
  • Orbital units may be manually de-orbited.


The duration of an orbital unit can range from 10 turns to 60. With the exception of the Rocktopus when an orbital unit's duration ends, satellites crash into the planet's surface leaving a crashed satellite. An Explorer can conduct an expedition on the wreck for bonuses.

The Spacefaring personality trait increases the duration of orbital units by 20/30/40%. The Quantum Computer wonder increases a unit's duration for 50% while also providing free maintenance for all orbital units. The Slavic Federation in the base game had an increase duration of 50%. This ability was lost in Rising Tide but remains in the base game.

Anti-Orbital Strikes[]

Orbital units can be shot down by cities and artillery units. Tier 1 versions of these units can shoot units within a one hex radius. Tier 2 versions can shoot 2 hexes away.

Units that can use the anti-orbital strike ability.

Cities have a default anti-orbital radius of 2 hexes. Buildings and agreements that increase orbital strike range

  • Panopticon- Increases Orbital Strike Range +5
  • Rocket Battery- Increases orbital strike range +3, with a quest that can increase it +1 more.
  • The trade agreement, Orbital Defense Net increases city Anti-Orbital Strike Range

Orbital units that are launched within the orbital strike range of enemy cities or units, usually are shot down. However, orbital units usually are allowed to use their abilities the same turn they are launched. This allows players to launch a Phasal Transporter, beam in 6 hexes worth of units deep into enemy territory or launch a Planet Carver to add one more attack to an offensive before the orbital unit is shot down.


The Rocktopus, a Harmony Harmony unique unit, is an orbital unit with special mechanics. The option to de-orbit manually is offered as a perk after Level 16 Harmony Harmony is reached.

Slavic Federation[]

The sponsor that specializes in orbital units is the Slavic Federation.

Rising Tide[]

Cosmonaut Legacy
Level Bonus
Level 1 All Orbital Units Strategic Resource requirements reduced by 1.

Start with 4 Petroleum Petroleum, Titanium Titanium, and Geothermal resources.

Level 2 Gain 2 Petroleum Petroleum, Titanium Titanium, and Geothermal resources.
Level 3 All Orbital Units Strategic Resource requirements reduced by 2.

Base Beyond Earth[]

  • Orbital units stay in orbit 50% longer +50% Petroleum Petroleum resources

Additional Trade Agreements that affect orbitals[]

  • Crash Program- Production Production cost for Orbital Units in your Capital (CivBE).png Capital reduced.
  • Civilian Observatories- All active Orbital Units produce more Science Science.
  • Reusable Vehicles- Each Orbital Unit launched reduces Production Production costs for future Orbital.

List of orbital units[]

Main article: List of orbital units (CivBE)


Civilization: Beyond Earth [Edit]
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RT only.png Introduced in the Rising Tide expansion pack.† Spin off game based in the same fictional universe