A little more info about the structure of the game's solar objects- Each planet has instance variables that hold data such as size, orbital velocity, distance from the star, etc. They will likely hold much more as the game developement progresses. I am taking an object oriented approach to the design, basically.
Vee41: Saving layout state would be ideal, but obviously not viable solution at the moment. Thanks for the info though. Looked at sprite bank, also another good idea, but it doesn't sound like it stores instance variables, so that's out. Your solution to problem 2 sounds like it will work. Will try it and post. Thanks!
Bluephaze: By default, all my systems in the game will have a seed saved for them, but that doesn't help with player made changes to objects within the system. Maybe I need to structure in such a way that player made changes are stored globally and re-applied when entering the system. Not as convenient as saving the whole layout state would be, but it might be all I've got. I'll have to think on this a bit. Thank you.
Sqiddster: Saving in global arrays might be the only option at present, though I would prefer to keep each object's data with it for the sake of organizational convenience. If I understand your Zone idea, it would mean having everything all on one layout, basically. That is an option I considered. Could get messy, but ultimately easier. And yeah, I like the zoom out idea. Would take a little scaling and fadeing magic to pull off, but would be pretty slick to see in action. Thanks for the compliment. I've been wanting to make this game since about 1995. I'm a fan of games like Starflight, star control, Weird Worlds, and FTL. However, I've always wanted to be able to disembark to a planet or space station, walk around inside my ship (making repairs, fighting off boarders, exploring abandoned(?) space hulks, and fighting ship to ship combat, all the while collecting and manufacturing upgrades to ship and personal equipment. I don't care for the 4x games, but I love the idea of actually exploring a vast piece of space and crafting solutions to the various scenarios and difficulties you might encounter.