While I don’t know the statistics on just how many players have actually become stranded someplace with insufficient fuel to get to a CX or LM, however I have noticed the question cropping up from time to time; and I realise it’s actually quite easy to do - particularly if you are a new player wanting to get your game off to a running start and are impatient about sending your first ship off to the CX - or if you’re taking a shipping / faction contract that to a place that does not have a ready supply of fuel.
How about adding some info about how much fuel you will have remaining once your flight is complete? (yes you could simply open your fuel tank and do the very simple math) but the point of this is more to highlight the importance of doing so to someone potentially making their first flight.
Ideally this should become highlighted in a different colour if your ship is going to arrive with less than 50% of the your current fuel (which would therefore imply you may not have enough fuel to make the same journey back again - at least not at the same speed).
Bonus suggestion - would be adding a link at the top of the flight planning window to the handbook entry on space flight (if it isn’t already) and then making that icon turn red if the fuel warning is triggered (to draw attention to it).
Another way to implement this is “ship fuel protection”.
It’s a setting, enabled by default, that adds like your picture shows, additional context information to the flight screen. “warning, this flight you’ve planned may not leave you with enough fuel to return, do you want to continue”.
The actual code is quite simple: just double the predicted fuel cost of the flight and if that value is within 90% of the available fuel onboard, display the warning.
This would probably reduce the number of people burning $15,000 in fuel on their first flight by 90%, and\or getting stranded somewhere doing faction missions which is now probably a lot more common.
My idea to solve this is a Galactic Rescue Service.
You can click on one of your ships, and select from one of the four factions. They charge you a fee to fly their own ship out to your location and refuel it. The fee scales with distance from the faction HQ, and the fuel is charged at the MM sell price. So as long as you have enough currency of one of the four factions, you can get a stranded ship refueled. However, you have to wait while the rescue ship flies to your location, and it’s far more expensive than just packing enough fuel yourself. So players can’t use this as a cheat to save on buying fuel normally.
Alternatively, allow in-orbit ship cargo transfers between players. Then a stranded player could issue a “pls rescue me” contract, and another player could fulfill it by flying there and selling them fuel. Though that would only be available to LM-tier players, who are probably the least likely to accidentally strand both their ships.
I like it. What if the GRS was something like an LM board, you could send a distress beacon for a fee to post your listing/order your fuel, then the shipment could be picked up from the nearest CX and flown out to the stranded ship for a bounty