Science Fiction Art by David C. Mueller / dcmstarships

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Exploration Corps Projects 1

Interplanetary Exploration Corps – Spaceship Endurance

Interstellar Exploration Corps – Starship Daybreak

Interstellar Exploration Corps – Starship Inquiry

Major Nimrithi Starships of the Interstellar Exploration Corps Era

The Exploration Corps setting consists of five fictional eras that range from the late 21st century to the early 26th century. In this fictional environment, our galaxy has only a few sentient species with star-faring technology. The first era begins in the late 21st century with the formation of the international Interplanetary Exploration Corps. During the 22nd century, a federation of democratic continental governments emerge bringing world peace and prosperity. By the end of this century, faster-than-light vessels appear and the Interplanetary Exploration Corps becomes the Interstellar Exploration Corps. Over the next 150 years, the Human presence in local interstellar space expands. In the mid-24th century, major improvements in faster-than-light drive result in Human space exploration efforts ranging much deeper into the galaxy. The Interstellar Exploration Corps grows in size and capability to become the Galactic Exploration Corps. The Exploration Corps setting is inspired by the science fiction Arthur C. Clarke, Jack McDevitt, and James White. I consider it my most sober portrayal of Humanity equipped with maturing faster-than-light technology combined with equally maturing societal development.

Interplanetary Exploration Corps – Spaceship Endurance

Concept: The Endurance is the only spaceship design of mine that actually could be built given reasonable projections of current space-faring technology. I hope that the placing of this craft near the end of the 21st century proves to be a pessimistic speculation rather than an optimistic one. the design of Spaceship Endurance has many sources of inspiration: Spaceship Discovery from the science-fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Spaceship Leonov from the science-fiction film 2010: The Year We Make Contact, Freighter Valley Forge and its robot drones from the science-fiction film Silent Running, and numerous speculative spacecraft designs from the 1950’s.

History: Launched in 2092 AD, Spaceship Endurance was the first spaceship built for the Interplanetary Exploration Corps. This large exploration vessel was capable of traveling to all planets of our solar system. It was powered by nuclear fusion reactors supplemented by retractable solar panels for use in the inner solar system. For missions to the outer planets, the Endurance class vessels refuelled at depots located in the asteroid belt and orbiting the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Typical travel times in the inner solar system were measured in weeks, those to Jupiter and Saturn in months, and those to the outermost planets in years. The Endurance class carried two kinds of smallcraft:

1) Sagan class landers for surveying of moons and asteroids as well as general cargo transport

2) Herschel class landers for longer-term exploration work on planetary bodies such as Mars and Mercury

Interstellar Exploration Corps – Starship Daybreak

Concept: This project is my attempt at depicting a very early starship. To devise a somewhat plausible scheme for the star-faring technology of Starship Daybreak, I did a bit of astronomical research and learned that it may be possible to mine material found in the vast outer volume of our star system for deuterium to use as fuel for nuclear fusion reactors and engines. These outer regions extend from the orbit of Neptune to as far as 100,000 AU (Astronomical Units) from our sun and are referred to as the Kuiper Belt, the Hills Cloud (inner Oort Cloud) and (outer Oort Cloud).

Assuming that other star systems have such regions too, the distance of deuterium-free void separating the outermost fringes of our Oort Cloud and that of our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, may only be 100,000 AU. From this reasoned speculation and a desired travel time for the trip already in mind, the faster-than-light performance for the vessel was easily calculated. Of course, as with all my work, this project is meant more as an artistic endeavor than an engineering one. We still have that pesky faster-than-light technology to figure out! The primary design influence for Starship Daybreak is the description of a Human interplanetary freighter from a science fiction story by Arthur C. Clarke

History: The Interstellar Exploration Corps was formed shortly after a number of experimental faster-than-light craft had performed numerous test flights in the outer boundary of the Kuiper Belt. This was the region closest to the Sun where the hyperspace tunnel initiator would work reliably. With robotic probes confirming the existence of easily obtainable deuterium in the Oort Cloud, a crewed mission to the nearest star system was now feasible. Three large exploration vehicles were commissioned for this mission: Starships Daybreak, Ascension, and Sunrise.

Construction of the starships was completed in July of 2181 AD and they set out together from Earth orbit in December for the eight month journey to Alpha Centauri. The exploration group arrived at the edge of Alpha Centarui’s Kuiper Belt in June 2182 AD and began a three month survey of the stars and planets in the system. The trio of vessels departed from the center of the Alpha Centauri system in September and arrived back at the edge of Sol’s Oort Cloud in January 2183 AD. Sadly, the Sunrise suffered a hyperspace tunnel initiator malfunction on the way back to Sol’s Kuiper Belt resulting in the loss of the ship and its crew. The Daybreak and Ascension arrived back in Earth orbit in May 2183 AD ending the historic mission.

The Daybreak class pioneered Human interstellar travel. These first generation starships utilized nuclear-fusion powered hyperspace tunnel initiators capable of traversing up to 5000 Astronomical Units (AU) per jump. They were fueled by deuterium mined from material located throughout the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud. The Daybreak class starships could perform a maximum of twenty warp-jumps before needing to refuel, allowing them to cross the 90,000 AU void between the outer boundaries of the Oort Clouds of Sol and Alpha Centauri.

Early travel through hyperspace tunnel was hard on human crews. While the amount of time spent in the hyperspace tunnels was short, the crews experienced physical reactions of several minutes of extreme disorientation followed by up to an hour of nausea. They needed several hours of recovery time before they could begin to prepare for the hyperspace tunnel transition. Fortunately, artificial intelligence computer systems were unaffected and could manage ship operations until the human crew revived. Hyperspace tunnel sickness would continue to be a serious problem for human interstellar travelers for decades to come.

Mission Log

Day 1 – 1 AU from Sun: Departure from Earth orbit

Day 18 – 40 AU from Sun: Arrival in Neptune space to refuel at automated station in orbit of Triton

Day 20 – 40 AU from Sun: Departure from Triton orbit

Day 33 – 55 AU from Sun: Arrival at outer edge of Kuiper Belt

Day 34 – 55 AU from Sun: Prepare for first warp-jump

Day 35 – 55 AU to 2000 AU from Sun: 1st warp-jump from outer edge of Kuiper Belt to inner region of Hills Cloud (inner Oort Cloud)

Day 37 – Day 47 – 2000 AU to 20,000 AU from Sun: 5 hyperspace tunnel transitions from inner region to outer boundary of Hills Cloud

Day 48 – Day 58 – 20,000 AU from Sun: Prospecting and mining of frozen comets for deuterium to refuel

Day 59 – Day 71 – 20,000AU – 50,000 AU from Sun: 6 hyperspace tunnel transitions from outer boundary of Hills Cloud to inner boundary of outer Oort Cloud

Day 72 – Day 81 – 50,000 AU from Sun: Prospecting and mining of frozen comets for deuterium to refuel

Day 82 – Day 103 – 50,000 AU – 100,000 AU from Sun: 10 hyperspace tunnel transitions from inner boundary to outer boundary of Oort Cloud

Day 104 – Day 119 – 100,000 AU from Sun: Prospecting and mining of frozen comets for deuterium to refuel

Day 120 – Day 142 – 100,000 AU – 200,000 AU from Sun: 20 hyperspace tunnel transitions from outer boundary of Sol Oort Cloud to outer boundary of Alpha Centauri Oort Cloud

Day 143 – Day 223 – 100,000 AU – 50 AU from center of Alpha Centauri system: 23 hyperspace tunnel transitions through Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt of Alpha Centauri system combined with time to prospect for and mine deuterium fuel

Day 224 – Day 313 – 50 AU – 0 AU from center of Alpha Centauri system: explore stars and planets of Alpha Centauri system

Day 314 – Day 396 – 50 AU – 100,000 AU from center of Alpha Centauri system: 23 hyperspace tunnel transitions through Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud of Alpha Centauri system combined with time to prospect for and mine deuterium fuel

Day 397 – Day 440 – 200,000 AU – 100,000 AU from Sun: 20 hyperspace tunnel transitions from outer boundary of Alpha Centauri Oort Cloud to outer boundary of Sol Oort Cloud

Day 441 – Day 520 – 100,000 AU – 55 AU from Sun: 22 hyperspace tunnel transitions through Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt combined with time to prospect for and mine deuterium fuel

Days 520 – Day 533 – 55 AU – 40 AU from Sun: travel from outer boundary of Kuiper belt to Triton

Day 534 – Day 553 – 40 AU – 1 AU from Sun: refuel at Triton and travel back to Earth Orbit

Interstellar Exploration Corps – Starship Inquiry

Concept: Starship Inquiry is my vision of a large human exploration vessel equipped with tech level 5 star-faring technology. The primary designs of influences on the Inquiry are a conceptual design for the Leviathan/Nostromo by Chris Foss for the science-fiction/horror film Alien, and various spaceship designs by Robert McCall.

History: Starship Inquiry was launched from Drydock Unity 9 in Earth orbit on 9 February 2263 AD. This vessel was the largest exploration ship ever built by the Interstellar Exploration Corps. It was the first Human starship to make contact with the Nimrithi, the only sentient species close to Sol with star-faring technology.

Major Nimrithi Starships of the Interstellar Exploration Corps Era

The Codename Sea Monster 1 and Codename Sea Horse 1 are the major large and small Nimrithi exploration vessels encountered by Human starships during the era of the Interstellar Exploration Corps. They are tech level 5 designs with roughly equal star-faring technology of the Human Starship Inquiry. The primary design influence for Nimrithi starships is the spherical Human starships of science fiction author H. Beam Piper.

Star-Faring Technology of the Interplanetary and Interstellar Exploration Corps Science-Fiction Settings

High Tech Level 2 Era: Spaceship Endurance

Command and Control – Non-sentient computer systems
Hull Construction – Metal spaceframe clad in metallic hull plating
Power Generation – Nuclear Fusion Reactor
Energy Collection – Solar Array
Propulsion – Nuclear Fusion
Long Range Communications – Radio Transmitter
Short Range Communications – Laser
Defensive Systems – Micro-Meteorite Sweeper

Mid Tech Level 4 Era: Starship Daybreak

Command and Control – Non-sentient computer systems
Hull Construction – Metal spaceframe clad in metallic-ceramic hull plating
Power Generation – Advanced Nuclear Fusion
Matter Fuel Collection – Asteroid-Comet Mining Equipment with Deuterium Processor
Energy Collection – Advanced Solar Array
Slower-Than-Light Propulsion – Advanced Nuclear Fusion
Faster-Than-Light Propulsion – Primitive Hyperspace Tunnel Inductor
Faster-Than-Light Communications – Hyperspace Transmitter
Speed of Light Communications – Radio Transmitter and Laser
Defensive Systems – Navigational Deflector and Hull Plating Polarizer

Mid Tech Level 5 Era: Starship Inquiry

Command and Control – Non-sentient computer systems
Hull Construction – Metal spaceframe clad in metallic-ceramic hull plating
Power Generation – Mass / Energy Converter
Matter Fuel Collection – Matter Accumulator
Energy Collection – Energy Absorber Array
Slower-Than-Light Propulsion – Advanced Fusion
Faster-Than-Light Propulsion – Hyperspace Tunnel Inductor
Faster-Than-Light Communications – Hyperspace Transmitter
Defensive Systems – Navigational Deflector and Hull Plating Polarizer
Weapon Systems – Magnetic Ram and Anti-Matter Warhead Missile Launcher

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