This is a recent creation of a long lasting project of mine that's been going on for the past 5 years, with the dim hope that it will one day become a low budget movie or book series that is much better than Star Wars or Star Trek. The overall setting has changed numerous times, but I've finally started to get a handle on something that I really like (and with a good blend of Space Opera and Ultra Realism). This is mainly thanks to Winchell Chung
, over at Atomic Rockets
, and Timothy_C
for posting the link in one of APDAF's old threads. So, after making a major setting change, I've started to make some headway with it (the change was basically switching ship design from belly-landers to tail-landers, which is much more realistic and interesting).
First up, before the drawing, is the setting. If you're just looking for the drawing, it's a little further down.
SETTING: This whole story takes place 4400 years from now. It postulates a Collapse of Technology in the early 2400s. The whole idea and assumption of this future event comes from the current trend of computers replacing humans even with simple tasks. Eventually, it is assumed that technology will become all encompassing, required in every walk of life and will ultimately be destroyed by one cataclysmic event. I don't know what the event is, but I'm thinking of a massive solar flare that pumps out EMPs for weeks on end, not only destroying devices that are not protected, but also those devices that have been brought out after the initial wave of destruction in an ill assumption that the EMP has stopped already.
Anyways, 2400s, Collapse of Technology, brings us down to Barbarism. Because these advanced humans cannot function without this crippled technology, they revert to their primal ways, creating tribes and groups for survival and resource gathering. After the initial collapse, widespread looting, and several generations, things calm down. Groups start to band together into larger factions, claiming territories and creating new boundaries and 'nations'. This stage lasts for about 250 years. Starting in the mid-2600s, the first large scale governments pop up. Thanks to old history and information in books (what are books?) found in unlooted libraries, society starts to build itself back up. Since a large amount of people are still located in their general territories, boundaries that mimic the old are created, bringing back countries that we recognize today. Some influenced by the history that they read or some from the vote of the people. From the ashes reborn, a fire starts anew, the Third Industrial Revolution. Since the shift to alternative energy before the CoT removed a lot of the need for coal, there are still significant reserves to help the process along. Give it several hundred years and we reach a society/technology level similar to that of the early 1900s. Equipped with both with old information and new innovations, analog computers are built to perform most basic of calculations. But for some reason or another, it's not written in the books, digital computers were... skipped over. This is the main element of the setting and was inspired by what I read at Atomic Rockets (and Frank Herbert's Dune). There are no digital computers. The only computation devices are analog, and thus limited in their scope, which then requires manual computations using slide rules and the human brain to get an answer.
I forgot to put this tidbit in there, but year 0 is 1781, when James Watt, the father of modern engines, patented his steam engine which converted linear to rotary motion. PW is 'Post-Watt'
Fast forward to the age of rockets, a little while later. The first need for man in space came from the simple desire for accurate weather reports as well as communication relays. Of course, you need to remember that these stations need to be manned, as there are no 'computers' to make things easy. Exactly as you'd expect, there's a Space Race, culminating in a later landing on the moon, but unlike the unfortunate ending of the real space race, it doesn't stop at the moon. Countries are scrambling to get farther out, reach more planets, moons, asteroids. Asteroid mining becomes a common thing, and eventually colonies start to spring up on Luna, Mars, many of the other planetary satellites, and so on. If you can see the trend, you'll notice that 1) with settlement of colonies and the introduction of mining, this whole thing becomes a large interplanetary trade network, and 2) that transit times will decrease and then the desire to go to other systems will enter into the common mans thoughts, as it is now at their fingertips.
Before I get to that, in this time, through countless experiments that ended well, bad, or just horribly, a common drive system was chosen:
Sub-Light Drives (normal space):
Sub-Light Drives are used to move a ship within a solar system or around a celestial body.
Typical Speeds for a ship (efficiently) using Sub-Light Drives range from 0.012 Speed of Light to 0.015SoL, with the maximum (efficient)speed typically being 0.020SoL. Put simply, if you were to travel from Earth's Orbit to Neptune's Orbit, so that the Slip Drive could be activated, it would take you about 15 days at 0.015SoL. Sub-Light Drives are almost universally powered by Helium3-Deuterium Fusion Rockets, which produces an exhaust of Hydrogen.
Deuterium-Tritium fuel/drives are used for surface-to-orbit craft, due to it's high thrust and low weight. Most ships are equipped with dual mode rockets that fuse both D-T and He3-D. D-T drives are not heavy, compared to the He3-D drives.
Now, for a little blurb on what is commonly referred to as an FTL Drive, which in this setting is called a Slip Drive. This came about a thousand or so years later. Before the FTL, generation ships were the main form of reaching a system far away.
Known officially as the Messerschmitt/Fleischmann/Starritt Trans-Dimensional Slipspace Drive, or more commonly known as a TDS Drive or Slip Drive. The Slip Drive was created in PW2472 (4253 CE) by a group of German engineers and improved upon by an Irish scientist. It is likely the single most important item ever created in human history, allowing humans to travel to the far reaches of the Milky-Way Galaxy. It works by plotting a course from a present destination to an intended destination and inputting it into the drive. Upon activation, the drive will slip outside of realspace and move the ship to it's destination, where it then slips back into realspace.
Despite it's importance, it does have limitations and drawbacks. It requires a large amount of energy to be generated by the ship and stored in capacitor banks (which will then charge the SlipDrive to the peak energy levels required to break into Slipspace). The course cannot be changed once the drive is engaged, although it can be stopped, forcing you out of SlipSpace. However, this will mean that the capacitor banks need to be recharged. The large amounts of energy used to peak the drive and the transfer into slipspace has a tendency to cause extreme nausea (which will induce vomiting) and create hallucinations. The nausea can be circumvented by wearing a patch or taking a pill before engaging the drive. The final, and perhaps the most limiting factor is it's extreme sensitivity to gravity wells, particularly those of a system's star, which means that in order to engage the Slip Drive, a ship may need to be as far out as Neptune's orbit, or further.
The Slip Drives tend to be maintenance hogs. Re-alignment of the magnetic coils has to be performed often, sometimes after every trip, and major maintenance (replacement of most major parts) must be performed every year (380 days) of slipspace time. There are also consumables that must be replenished before every activation. These include a primer (used to start the opening into Slipspace) and a small amount of reaction mass (which is used to sustain presence in slip space).
The Slip Drive needs to be located in area of the Center of Mass of the ship.
Typical speeds of the TDS Drive can reach close to 0.85 lightyear per hour, meaning that it would take almost 14 years to cross the Galaxy (assuming you could continuously generate the energy to stay in Slipspace).
SlipSpace tends to be rather consistent, aside from the variance in arrival times, which can vary from +/- 5% to 15%. While in slipspace, you cannot determine what stage of the trip you are at or when the drive will disengage and translate into realspace. Before the drive is activated, the navigator will make a series of calculations based on the speed of the drive to determine a estimate of when the ship will exit slipspace (using the exact calculated speed as a reference of 100%, and then do calculations of durations for 95% and 115% of nominal time). Slipspace is in tune with realspace, so time does not speed up or slow down.
Although outerspace is friction-less, slipspace is unique in that it is not entirely frictionless. Being a different, undefined dimension, it is unknown what causes slipspace to have friction, but it does require that ship designs be sleek and smooth, so as to allow for a faster speed. Ships do not have to be sleek and streamlined, rather employing sharp edges and features (that no doubt ease construction) but this can cut into the speed in which you travel through slipspace by up to 40%.
The early drives were very expensive and required many materials that were extremely rare on Earth and other planets of Sol. Fortunately, as explorations ships made headway in exploring new systems, new and sustainable materials were found and used.
The one thing that keeps the price high on SlipSpace Drives is the usage of a metal in an alloy that is instrumental in creating the opening in slipspace. Despite constant searching, there are only 4 recorded planets that have that metal in major quantities, making it an important planet. This is why many SS drives are reused and rebuilt, becasue new ones are much more expensive than refurbishment. It's not uncommon to find a new ship with a 400 year old SS drive, but then again, it's not uncommon for ships to stay in service for centuries.
And like all horribly expensive things, there are devices that are less expensive and perform the same task... Kind of.
Faster-Than-Light Drive - SlipGates:
Slipgates are fixed point locations that allow non-SSD ships to travel faster than light.
Ships are equipped with SlipGate recievers, which allow the SlipGate to lock on to the ship, translate it into SlipSpace and send it along the route to its destination, where it is then translated out of SlipSpace. If a SlipGate malfunctions, the reciever will automatically translate the ship out of Slipspace, and when this happens the still functioning SlipGate receives a warning and a probable location for rescue ships to jump to, however malfunctions are rare.
The Slipgates do have a toll, but for Liners and other ships that travel common routes, it's less expensive than upkeeping ship based SSDs. It is not uncommon for large ships to have SSDs and SGRs, which actually can be more beneficial by running dual-mode.
The size of the gates tend to limit ship design, which can make ships very narrow and slender, but long, as the only limit is structural design. Antennae, radiators, and other protrusions are often extendable and pulled in for slipgate transfer.
SlipGates tend to average a speed of 0.74ly/h
Both of these are still being worked on, but the general configuration will stay the same.
Now that we have a finicky FTL drive, now it's time for the FTL radio, right? Nope!
Put simply, there is no FTL 'radio'. All FTL communication is done by using specially built, high speed Courier ships. These ships are equipped with the fastest Slip Drives that are available which minimize arrival variances and wait times. The fastest recorded courier ship, the Electra, made a run at an astonishing 1.214ly/h.
Courier ships tend to be reserved for Sovereign Entities, for transporting classified information, orders, plans, and even diplomats if need be.
For general communication between people, traditional Mail Ships or Passenger Liners are used.
Now we've got a general scope of the technology in the setting, right? Good. Let's move on to the actual setting of the story. 4700 years from 1781.
Setting, Place: Milky Way Galaxy. Over 13% of the galaxy has been explored, to each end, although most action takes place around 1,000ly from Earth. Earth is considered the cradle of human civilization and is the de facto center of civilization.
There are 2,300 planets that have been discovered, explored, and colonised. Of those, just over 100 have become large, industrialized worlds. Many worlds, even colonies, are Balkanized, with multiple nation-states populating the surface.
The average population across the 2,300 inhabited planets is about 700,000 people per planet. In reality, though, most industrialized worlds will have populations approaching 10-15 billion, while colonies, territories, and other inhabited planets will range from as low as a sustainable 1,000 up to a median of 10-15 million.
In total, there are an estimated 1.638 Trillion (1,638 Billion) people in the Milky Way Galaxy. This number is not limited to planets, but also the population of humans living on asteroids, planetoids, deep space stations, etc.
In many outlying colonial worlds, it is often difficult to get hands on petroleum fuels, like oil, diesel, and gasoline. The inability to obtain these resources mean that a lot of work is done with beast of burden, such as oxen, horses, and others. When there are enough sustainable trees, then steam power is often used, especially for railroads and sometimes trucks. When fuel can be, or is availble in limited supply, then it is often limited to the govt, upper class members, or large industrial processes. So it is not uncommon to see a mix of steam power, internal combustion engines, and animals doing work.
Note: My reason for choosing the Customary Units for the main measurements of the setting probably come from my eccentricity and hatred of the Metric system, but I think the history makes some good reasoning of it.
Standard measurements are Imperial Units. The metric system died out after the Collapse of Technology, as the metric system did not have any merit to the rebuilding colonies as it was arbitrary and only based on scientific calculations, whereas Imperial units had a history and a specific meaning and usage for each unit. Major units are in continued use (foot, yard, furlong, mile, league, etc). Leagues are commonly used in close range starship operations. Many of the older units of measurement were found in old books, sourced from un-looted libraries.
Time is still measured as it was before the CoT, using Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Weeks, Months, Years. As Earth is the centric of all basis of measurements, seconds, minutes, and oftentimes hours are used/retained throughout the the galaxy. Every ship is equipped with an Imperial Chronometer to keep track of time. The Imperial Chronometers are kept in sync with the Imperial Homeworld (Earth).
Languages vary throughout the human colonies. The most common recognized language is German and English. Germany, America, and the United Kingdom were at the forefront of shipbuilding and subsequently sent many exploratory missions and colony ships. Chinese and other Asiatic languages are also common, due to their extents of colonization.
Now, this is something that came from Star Wars. Seeing Luke Skywalker in the healing tank gave me the inspiration for this idea. So, if you have trouble imagining what this is, imagine that.
Genetic engineering is not widespread, although it is practiced in some science and medical disciplines. It is especially prevalent in the creation of Vat-Grown people.
From an embryo, placed in a tank, a VGP is subject to either of two growth rates. They can grow from an embryo to about 13-14yrs of age in either one month or one year. Choosing an accelerated rate has a higher probability of a defect occurring, but is more economical. After the first month or year of growth, they are subject to in-situ training, which takes place electrically. Their basic instinct and knowledge is sent to them during their first stage of growth and the second stage will focus on any skills that a buyer/client wants. In this stage, the VGP will grow to an age of 15-19yrs, depending on the requirements. Once they are finished with the second stage, they are 'animated' and their eyes opened for the first time. Interestingly, it is recommended that the buyer/client, or whoever is to be the center focus for the VGP, be present when they animate, as this establishes a bond and a fierce loyalty. Creating a person from a Vat is extremely expensive, however it is not uncommon for a client to be dissatisfied with the final product and rejecting it (which generally happens just before they're animated). Generally, they will get a credit towards their next and the lab will try again, but that still leaves the issue of a person floating in the vat. The lab will either animate without an impressionable figure (which will make them feel empty and lonely, and will often lead to severe depression), or will look for a proper client to take them for a reduced price.
It is important to mention that Vat-Grown People are not treated like regular people. Instead they are treated like minorities and often as slaves (even in societies that do not allow slavery). They can be bought and often do not have rights, their rights are basically at the discretion of their master/owner/buyer.
For rejects that have no client/buyer, they are taken out of the tank and sent to a designated area where services, housing, and job opportunities are provided for them. There, anyone can recruit them or gain ownership of them (if they so desire. Ownership gives them rights and a better social status).
Vat Grown people are just like normal people in every way, except for some quirks that can make them easily identifiable. These include general eccentricities in their personalities, extreme loyalty and devotion to both their owner (original) as well as their trained task. They tend to be bi-polar as well, either being very happy or depressed. Before leaving the lab, each VGP is tattooed with a number and a symbol. The number indicates the listed lab from which they are from, and the symbol indicates they are vat-grown. These can be located in a multitude of places, depending on which lab they came from, but typically it is located in a discreet place, such as behind their left ear being the most common. Some have it on the back of their neck (easily visible), on their feet (usually around the ankle), or on the inside of their left hand pointer finger.
Vat grown people are often created for all kinds of fields, but are well known in high hazard fields, like mining, shipbuilding, and military grunts. When ordered in bulk, VGP will cost less as a single, or a small set of, patterns will be used for growing them.
Vat-Grown people are not considered to be of a high social status by most people, being grown artificially. Unless they are owned by a person, they are rarely, if ever, allowed status as a normal human being. This means that VGP often cannot own houses, vote, or have the same rights as normal humans. VGP on populated planets typically live in government designated areas, which are basically walled cities, where the VGP essentially run their own life with limited assistance from outside. In some rare cases, a moon or planet may be turned over to vat grown people to live freely.
In space, the same stigma is lesser known, as VGP that have made a life in space working on a ship are considered to be more respected than their land bound peers.
Annnd that's pretty much what I have available to share. I've got more going on, but this is the part that is good enough to share. I probably didn't need to share it alongside the ship, but it'd be nice to see what y'all think of it.
Now for the drawing. But first some information!
The SS Appollo originally started life as a scientific and exploration ship. She was built between 4633 and 4638 at the Magella Shipyards on Earth. Upon completion, Appollo was commissioned in 4641 under the ownership of Lansdau & Orellana Exploration Charters. Appollo served for 64 years with L&O, exploring over 21 virgin planets. In 4705, after L&O's bankruptcy, the ship was bought by multi-billionaire Sidney Masterson to be transformed into a yacht. Unfortunately, after buying the ship, Masterson became disabled, never starting the refit process. For 8 years, Appollo stand at the Anqing Starport on Leica III until Masterson's death. In 4713, a young man by the name of Otto Goebels bought the ship at the estate sale for next to nothing and began the process of fixing it up and equipping it for planetary survey. In 4714, the ship launched to the heavens once more.
The primary mission outline of the ship is to survey planets that have been determined as suitable for colonization. As typical, a month or so of transit is required to reach the destination planet. These survey trips will require several days of orbit first, to take pictures and determine where to land, after which the ship will land. From there, it's several weeks to a couple of months on the ground, to take measurements, samples, and lay out plats. Monuments will be placed and surveys will be created to be sent back home. Along with all of this samples of vegetation, soil, etc. will be gathered and tested.
Now, here's the drawing (finally!)
I blended it between the two ships on the top of this page
The general information that I have so far (I'm still calculating all of this out, with Atomic Rockets as my guide):
Volume: 20269.482044702 m3
Density: 0.25 tonnes/m3
Mass: 5067 tonnes
Structural Mass: 456.1998428272193 tonnes
Structural Volume: 262.48552521704215 m3
Fuel Mass: 2533.0999214136095 tonnes
Fuel Volume: 2747.3968778889475 m3
Total Mass: 5066.199842827219 tonnes
Hull Thickness: 0.02728385829172531 m
The primary thing I'm still... figuring out is the amount of remass that I need, which depends on mission duration, and a bunch of other factors. I will fudge the numbers, as I did say at the beginning that I'm looking for a blend of Space Opera and Ultra-Realism, but I'd like to still follow most of the rules.
The expected crew complement is to be no more than 22 normally, although 28 can be had (if the officers are willing to share their cabins).
There are 15 decks. The decks are al drawn out on the left side of the image. In order to associate them with the ship, picture them 90* clockwise. The 'top' is the same as the 'right' side of the rocket.
Nose - The nose contains the RADAR and primary communications equipment. The entire nose is hinged, and folds away to reveal the ship's docking collar and airlock.
PL - This area has 2 EVA suits, 2 bunks for resting crew, a small kitchenette, and a ladder that goes up the airlock.
Nav - Navigator's Station. Contains all of the Navigator's equipment. Chart table, 4 Computers, and the astrodomes. Also included in this area is the Watch station, which includes a small radar display, a communications set, and other essential items for watch keepers.
Sys - Systems Engineer's main station. Contains all the equipment required to run the ship. Flight, engine, thermal, Communications, Sensors, etc. Also includes the remainder of the flight computers.
G1 & G2 - General Commons Areas for Crew.
A1 - Officer's Berthings (12 bunks total)
A2 - Crew's Berthings (16 bunks total)
KMS - Kitchen Mess and cold Storage. Mess hall is large enough for 16 people.
ADM LAB - Ship's Office, Laboratory areas, and Medical center.
STO - Storage area for food items, personal items, etc. Equipped with a crane on the port side.
CELSS - The Closed Ecological Life Support System. Two systems for redundancy.
C1, C2, C3 - C1 is for smallest cargo and crated EVA suits. Also shares space with the airlock and 4 ready suits. C2 is complimentary to C3, but has more room. C3 contains the man-basket, lifting cradles, and the crane/winch itself. All three decks are accessed by an elevator
ENG - FTL controls, access to systems, Main Engineering station.
There is an elevator in the center, with stairs/ladders right beside it. The yellow that you see is cabling, for communications, etc. The elevator rides on multiple sets of gears running on a rack that goes the whole length of the tube. This is quite noisy (due to gear growl) but does not rely on hydraulics or a cable that can be snapped under sudden high-G loads. As well, with gear sets and motors in each corner, the system has multiple redundancies.
Radiators are still being worked on. They will likely be put into the landing legs. Molybdenum-Lithium Heat Pipe channeled through 4 radiators.
It's still a WIP, but I'd like to get a general opinion before I make the final hurdle and finish it.
Thoughts, Comments, Ideas?