Interesting. I guess I don't have a good sense of the prospects that a vessel destroyed in combat would drift into a sustainable orbit (or at least, into an area of a system where it could be located and recovered) rather than out into interstellar space on the one hand, or into the sun on the other. Can you clarify?
With BT fusion rockets being what they are, there are two circumstances that would leave a small craft, DropShip, or WarShip in a stable orbit following combat:
1) The vessel was attacked in an existing orbit before it could fire its engines.
2) The vessel was deliberately moved to a stable orbit after battle.
There are two other general circumstances in which you might find a BT spacecraft, both deleterious to salvage:
3) Parked at a standard jump point and unable to fire its engines much.
4) Moving through the star system very quickly.
The stable orbit in circumstance 1 is likely to be around a planet, since BT vessels tend to park in two locations: at a standard jump point or in planetary orbit. See circumstance 3, below, for details of ships parked at jump points.
Circumstance 2 can start anywhere in a star system - at a jump point, at a planet, during system transit. The ship is somewhere, gets busted up, and then someone moves it to a stable place. Maybe the crew did it, maybe salvagers did it, maybe the military did it during a crew rescue operation, whatever fits the plot. The end result will either be a stable orbit around the star or around a planet, whatever the movers of the ship want to fit their circumstance (a desperate crew on a busted ship will take any orbit, while salvagers might want to hide their loot, while mothballers might want a distant solar orbit away from thieves.)
Circumstance 3 results in the derelict ship plummeting into the local star.
Circumstance 4, like 2, can happen anywhere. Maybe the ship was at a jump point and, during battle, built up lots of speed. Maybe the ship was making a system transit and was ambushed. Maybe the ship was still some hours from a planet when its drive failed. Either way, once BT ships get moving, they very quickly exceed a local star's escape velocity - there is no return unless the situation changes to Circumstance 2 (someone with a working engine puts them in orbit.)
Now, when I say, "BT fusion rockets are powerful," I mean: It takes chemical rockets 20 minutes of work to fling a probe out of Sol's grasp at solar escape velocity...but it still takes decades to finish the escape. New Horizons is taking 8 years to get to Pluto at a bit above solar escape velocity. A typical BT spacecraft can make the same journey (and stop at the end) in 20 days if it doesn't try hard. With a few hours of modest acceleration, a BT spacecraft is never going to be captured by anything, and it will be moving like a bat out of hell.
Another thing to note about "being captured by a planet's gravity" involves active thrusting. Derelict, drifting objects do not get captured without some very weird circumstances. (Unassisted captures happen [over 4.5 billion years, Jupiter and Saturn have captured a few dozen asteroid moons], but they're statistical anomalies). This is because when you approach a planet or moon on an interplanetary flight, if you do not brake in some way, then gravity dictates that you'll end up passing the object at its escape velocity. The fall from an "infinite" distance (effectively a few thousand kilometers or more) is sufficient for the object's gravity to accelerate you to its escape velocity. As you fly away from the object, gravity will then gradually remove the added velocity until you end up with a net-zero gain in velocity. But while you're near the object, you'll end up with a lot more velocity. You need to cancel some of that speed to be captured. If you look at the flight plan of Apollo missions and all interplanetary missions entering something's orbit, there's an important "orbit injection" burn.
As a result, the only way to be â€œcapturedâ€ is per Circumstance 1 or 2: either you were already in orbit, or you later deliberately moved to an orbit.
Clearly, if these vessels are being parked after being disabled, it implies the opposite of what you suggested, i.e. that the relics recovered by the FWLN were salvage intentionally kept by the League.
Alright. And you gave some good references. I didnâ€™t recall those.
(This conclusion would also be inconsistent with the text of FM:FWL, which implies these ships were drifting derelicts only recently located.)
A theme of the Succession Wars is losing information. The FWLM might well have logged the locations of its derelicts in the First Succession War at, oh, â€œThe Admiralty Center,â€ only to have the Admiralty Center nuked. The records are nuked and the survivors arenâ€™t necessarily the folks who knew what the back-up of the records contained. Hence, the location of warships are lost after deliberate salvaging..
Post-3052, it could be that the WoB used the same knowledge they gave to the FWL to seize the WarShips located in the other Successor States and thus build the fleet they turned out to have during the Jihad. That has the twin benefits of explaining why the other Houses don't seem to have recoverable derelicts while the FWL does, as well as explaining where the WoB's Jihad fleet came from.
Most of WoBâ€™s fleet appears to have come from the Ruins of Gabriel, where the Amaris-era SLDF parked its derelicts.
I can explain why most of the Houses did NOT have recoverable WarShips: Comstar working its evil take-down-civilization plans. What I canâ€™t explain too well is why the FWL had so many viable derelicts.