Science Fiction Art by David C. Mueller / dcmstarships

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Exploration Corps Projects 2

Galactic Exploration Corps – Starships Leviathan and LeGuin

Galactic Exploration Corps – Starships Depths of Dream and Dawn of Discovery

Major Nimrithi Starships of the Galactic 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.

Galactic Exploration Corps – Starships Leviathan and LeGuin

Concept: Starship Leviathan is meant to be a more rational vision of possible future faster-than-light capable starship than those portrayed in Star Trek and Star Wars. While it is conceived as an alternate to the well known USS Enterprise of the original Star Trek TV series, it has more in common with the capital ship Vespasian from the Sector General series of science fiction novels by James White. As a sober starship concept, it has a hull shape evolved from modern submarines. The rounded forms are obviously more for style than for function but perhaps real future starships will include aesthetic considerations along with functional ones. Primary design influences for the Leviathan include modern military submarines and the Mon Calarmari Cruisers from the science fantasy film Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

History: Starship Leviathan was launched from Star Station 19 on 28 October 2357 AD. This vessel was the largest tech level 6 exploration ship ever built by the Galactic Exploration Corps. It could accommodate up to six LeGuin class scoutships and usually operated with at least four.

Life Aboard Starship Leviathan

Life aboard Starship Leviathan revolves around its primary mission of deep space exploration. The crew members serve in one of the seven service branches: Command, Defense, Engineering, Flight, Medical, Science, or Support. The roles of each service branch are as follows:

Command Service: Ship Command and Sentient Computer Operations

Defense Service: Ship Defense and Internal Security

Engineering Service: Power Generation, Power Distribution and Propulsion

Flight Service: Piloting, Navigation, and Hangar Operations

Medical Service: Medical Care and Medical Research

Science Service: Survey Operations and Scientific Research

Support Service: Life Support, Fabrication, Communications, and Recreation

The leadership structure of the crew is divided into four levels: crew person, team leader, branch leader, and commander. Crew persons form small teams usually composed of members from various service branches. Each team is supervised by a Team Leader. Each service branch is supervised by a Branch Leader. The Branch Leaders are supervised by the Command Triad which consists of the ship’s two Co-Commanders and the sentient computer.

In addition to the leadership structure used for the daily operation of the vessel, there is the nine-person starship council democratically elected annually from all adult crew members. The starship council consults on major issues affecting shipboard culture as well determining the primary goals for each long-term mission.

Personal Commentary

The Leviathan is a very special design for me. The amount of thought and level of detail I put into the various versions of this vessel are equaled by few others in my speculative spaceship design work. I even created a self-published book in 1996, A Visitor’s Guide to Starship Leviathan, where I spent as much effort describing the society on-board the ship as I did depicting the vessel itself. I used the Baha’i model of social structure and personal interaction that emphasizes such things as integrating human diversity in a positive way, consultative group decision making, and combining the scientific and religious methods of comprehending reality when seeking a fuller understudying of truth.

The Leviathan has a shipboard society more like a small town than a military vessel. However, the small town in my vision is not one from a homogeneous culture of our past, but one from the more diverse yet unified culture that I believe will emerge in our future. The occupants of the Leviathan include children as well as adults. A sentient computer oversees the vast mechanical complexity of the vessel and consults as an equal with the human crew. Non-sentient robots controlled by the human crew and the sentient computer provide the necessary labor for particularly mundane or dangerous jobs.

The society on-board the Leviathan symbolizes for me the hope I have in my heart that when our descendants go out to explore the stars, they will represent a progressive and compassionate culture worthy of expanding itself beyond the borders of our small planet. Thus, it is as much what the Leviathan represents for me on the human level, as for its artistic aspects, that makes it one of my favorite starship designs. It also has been the favorite design of visitors to my website since I began posting my work on the Internet in 2001.

When I began designing the Leviathan in the early 1990’s, the initial challenge was to decide upon a rough size for the vessel. I wanted a large vessel, but not so large as to be overwhelming when I got around to figuring out what was on each deck. Also, I felt that I needed a well-known fictional vehicle to use as a rough yardstick for people to compare my vessel to. I decided to use the USS Enterprise 1701-D from the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation as my starting point for general size. Thus, the Leviathan has roughly the same mass and internal volume as the USS Enterprise-D. Like that vessel, the Leviathan is a deep space exploration vessel capable of long-term missions and equipped with the most advanced scientific technology available to Humanity for its time period. While the two vessels perform similar roles in their respective fictional environments, the Leviathan has star-faring technology closer to that of the original USS Enterprise from the classic Star Trek series.

In the internal layout for the Leviathan, the direction of the decks is based on what is convenient for the design, not on a strict “all levels face the same direction” paradigm. With gravity control technology similar to that on Star Trek, there is no need for all the decks to stack in the same direction. Also, I am making a reference to the work of science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke in which advanced technology allows the creation of artificial environments where the direction that is supposed to be down is an arbitrary one.

As a teenager I saw a novel about a British aircraft carrier named the Leviathan and from the start I felt this would be a good name for a gigantic exploratory ship. Later I discovered the biblical and nautical implications of the word Leviathan and this only added to my desire to use it as a name for one of my designs. Over the years, I have noticed numerous speculative spaceship designs named Leviathan.

Galactic Exploration Corps – Starships Depths of Dream and Dawn of Discovery

Concept: Starship Depths of Dream is my vision of a large human exploration vessel equipped with tech level 7 star-faring technology. At around 1800 meters long, it is approaching the size of space vehicles I would label star-faring habitats instead of starships. It exists far enough in the future to have a different alphabet than any currently in use by 21st century humanity. The primary design influence is the Orkish Dreadnought by Graden Elliott circa 1985.

History: Starship Depths of Dream was launched on 12 November 2521 AD. This vessel was the largest tech level 7 exploration ship ever built by the Galactic Exploration Corps. It could accommodate up to twenty Dawn of Discovery class scoutships.

Nimrithi Starships of the Galactic Exploration Corps Era

The Codename Sea Monster 4 and Codename Sea Horse 4 are the major large and small Nimrithi exploration vessels encountered by Human starships during the era of the Galactic Exploration Corps. They are tech level 6 designs with roughly equal star-faring technology of the Human Starship Leviathan. The primary design influence for Nimrithi starships is the spherical Human starships of science fiction author H. Beam Piper.

Star-Faring Technology of the Galactic Exploration Corps Science-Fiction Setting

Mid Tech Level 6 Era: Starship Leviathan

Command and Control – Sentient computer systems
Hull Construction – Metal spaceframe clad in metallic-ceramic hull plating
Power Generation – Advanced Mass / Energy Converter
Matter Fuel Collection – Advanced Matter Accumulator
Energy Collection – Advanced Energy Absorber Array
Slower-Than-Light Propulsion – Gravitic Impeller
Faster-Than-Light Propulsion – Hyperspace Tunnel Inductor
Faster-Than-Light Communications – Hyperwave Transmitter
Defensive Systems – Gravitic Repeller and Force Shell Generator
Weapons Systems – Gravitic Oscillator and Plasma Bolt Launcher

Mid Tech Level 7 Era: Starship Depths of Dream

Command and Control – Sentient computer systems
Hull Construction – Metal spaceframe clad in reactive catalytic hull plating
Power Generation – Advanced Mass Energy Converter
Matter Fuel Collection and Energy Collection – Mass-Energy Intake
Slower-Than-Light Propulsion – Gravitic Director
Faster-Than-Light Propulsion – Advanced Hyperspace Tunnel Inductor
Faster-Than-Light Communications – Advanced Hyperwave Transmitter
Defensive Systems – Gravitic Repeller, Force Shell Generator, and Stealth Field Generator
Weapons Systems – Gravitic Oscillator and Directed Plasma Bolt Launcher

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