Details about the world of The Hyacinth Disaster are below. If you're the type who likes figuring things out from context clues, feel free to listen to the series right away: I wrote the script with that approach in mind. If you prefer to have all the (non-spoiler) info on the table, so you can have a clear picture in your head, keep reading:
With Mars promising a green and blue future, effort was mounted in the 2110's to begin the thinning of Venus' atmosphere, subterranean installations were established on Mercury in the 2120's, and the 30's saw research stations assembled on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
For the most part, however, the asteroid bases are ungoverned. Some attempt to establish colonies in the 2120's resulted in relative failure as few families wished to live so far from a blue sky. In 2129, Dutch government finally left the administration of the asteroids to whatever corporations were willing to maintain mining operations. Many hardened adventurers opted for the skyless rocks in hopes of getting rich, and the economy grew despite the absence of "civilization".
A mere two years later, he had achieved an education in asteroid mineralogy. With his sister, he took passage to Carnellion Base, the largest mining hub in the Belt. After 11 months crewing various ships, Conlin became captain of the Hyacinth.
Two years after acquiring the Hyacinth with her brother, Famke was offered a job as captain of a ship working directly for Halaesus. Despite the company's obsessive oversight, the pay was good enough for her to take it. She is on board the Hyacinth again for the ransom mission as comms monitor.
On the ransom mission, Finch is pulling multi-duty as a one-person engineering team.
Argus had worked on several ships in the Belt before meeting Grimm on board the Grissom, and the two developed a volatile friendship that carried them through quite a lot of dangers. On the ransom mission, Argus is helping Grimm set up the receptors for the Squealer’s radiation scanning burst.
Grimm enjoys playing pranks with (or on) Argus, and every so often lets himself get attached to a person he respects. This does not keep him from getting bored with his surroundings, and so he has remained a free agent, moving from ship to ship after every couple of jobs, with Argus (by cheerful choice) in tow. Thus far, working aboard the Hyacinth has held Grimm’s interest for the longest time, largely due to something new going wrong on every shift. On the ransom mission, Grimm is setting up receptors with Argus.
In the midst of the very public event of the Corvus’ capture, Dreadnought realized the asteroid he'd been surveying was unusually promising, and decided to file a false report on its value. He then contacted Finch and asked if she knew anyone who was interested in helping him go behind corporate to maximize their take from the asteroid’s resources. On the ransom mission, Dreadnought is drilling into the asteroid to prepare for the squealer’s scanning burst.
Ember has no desire to follow in her previous captain's steps, preferring the dangers of space to the dangers of the boardroom. That said, she was furious when she was ordered to take her ship into hostile territory, opting to obey only when threatened with the loss of her job and the jobs of her entire crew. Her concerns were justified when the Tesseract appeared and brought its 58 electromagnetic cannons to bear on her mining ship and its pitiful complement of mining probes (small, slow missiles)
Standard mining procedure involves attaching the ship to the surface of a target asteroid with the tether. After this, a giant net is extended from the end of the mast, covering as much of the asteroid's surface as possible. This net catches debris as teams of exosuited miners blast the surface with C4, and funnels it toward the smithies waiting on the mast.