Warning: Hyperlinks to any webpage of TVtropes.org have been scientifically and clinically known to cause massive time loss in the browsing of its contents. you have been warned.
Before I continue, let me note that this is the first time I used the Microsoft Windows Seven’s Live Writer.
This time, we will review what is basically the rough idea of how combat spacecraft, and by extension combat starcraft, are roughly laid out in its most basic form. The idea, though Space Operatic at its core, is formed from knowledge and experience gained from both the websites Atomic Rockets and Rocketpunk Manifesto.
As typical of combat spacecraft in numerous science fantasy space operas, the spacecrafts of humanity are protected by Force Wall emitters. However, as this article recommends, Force Walls are not the only layer of defense. Rather the defensive systems are a multitude layer with force fields for smaller impactors that would (at best) deflect the incoming munitions, Point Defenses such as Laser, Kinetic, Missile, and Plasma for larger and (more often then not) more aggressive and force walled hostiles, and Force Walls to (primarily) defeat energy based munitions.
And before you get your knickers in a knot on plasma-based weaponry, the magnetic field that accelerates the plasmoid extends beyond the physical barrel. Though they only have a maximum effective range of about a kilometer. Oh, and before I forget, the Force Walls aren’t singular projections that could be easily penetrated if one only knew the exact wavelength. Rather, the Force Walls are segmented between emitters in a geometric pattern across the hall. This also helps in allowing munitions to bypass the force wall simply by turning off that particular segment. In fact, many offensive and defensive weapon systems have their own shield emitters that not only help the force wall wrap around the weapon turret (or similar) but can be turned off at the moment the weapon is fired.
As for anti-capitalcraft batteries, well there are the classical standbys such as Laser Emitters, Neutral-charge Particle Beam Cannons (which are often confused enough as realistic plasma beams and suits my purposes rather perfectly), Gauss Cannons, and missile batteries, in addition to the Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannon.
As explained in the HWDS section of the Interstellar Travel and Communications blog entry, the misnomer lexicon “hyperspace” Vortex Cannon is a loanword that effectively stuck despite efforts to make it technically more accurate. Moving on, the Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannon is a devastating weapon that bypasses any known defensive systems that can obliterate any object within its nearly two kilometer area of effect at a range of only a third of a light second (Carefully engineered so that the return pulse and weapon firing does not exceed a standard second). There is only one problem with the Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannon: It’s a spinal weapon.
That is, it can only target any hostile craft that is directly in the direction of travel to the combat spacecraft. There are advanced designs that allow for off-axis targeting, but only for a deviation of a single arc degree. As if that weren’t problematic enough, the Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannon is huge and complex to such a degree that it can only be fitted onto the largest of combat spacecrafts: Shock Spacecraft/Starcrafts (with only one Hyperspace Vortex Cannon), Assault Spacecraft/Starcrafts (with two Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannons), and Battle Spacecraft/Starcrafts (with three Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannons). The placement of the Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannon can vary from nation-state to nation state. More popular is to mount all Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannons forwards (or top), followed closely second to having only half the number of Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannons to point forwards and the other half backwards for at least Assault Spacecrafts and Battle Spacecrafts with the latter having two Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannons aimed at either directly into the path of travel or trailing. More rarely is to have all of the Hyperspacetime Vortex Cannons pointed in the same direction as the remass thrust. Those few justify that it would be paramount to have such a powerful weapon aimed at hostile targets at the climax of a skew flip for planetary capture.
As suggested by a commentor from Rocketpunk Manifesto (who, I have no idea), the Point Defense, Turreted and Spinal emitters of Lasers and Particle Beams (though the latter is only limited to Turrets and Spinal Mounts) all derive from a central Lasing/Particle Accelerator core mounted deep within the structure of the combat spacecraft with the use of heat-sinked mirrors and electromagnets to alter the path of the Directed Energy Munitions. Though the particle beam channels will mostly be curved since I have a feeling that charged particle beams don’t take too kindly to right angle turns. Oh well, it might give a kind of artful, organic design to the internal structure.
If you are one of the few who are wondering what other combat spacecraft classes I had in mind (for humanity at least), allow me to give you a glimpse into the madness. Patrol Spacecraft/Starcraft, Interceptor Spacecraft/Starcraft, Escort Spacecraft/Starcraft, Recon Spacecraft/Starcraft, Search Spacecraft/Starcraft, Strike Spacecraft/Starcraft, Defense Spacecraft/Starcraft (it lays mines as well), Drop Spacecraft/Starcraft, Landing Spacecraft/Starcraft Vehicle (LSV), Landing Spacecraft/Starcraft Armor (LSA), Light Spacecraft/Starcraft Base, Strike Spacecraft/Starcraft Base, Assault Spacecraft/Starcraft Base, and Battle Spacecraft/Starcraft Base. There are auxiliary/support/logistical spacecraft/starcraft, but I doubt there are those among you interested in such vessels.
These combat spacecraft classes are defined by treaty by the Galactic Alliance, akin to the Washington Naval Treaty. The actual specifics are rather detailed (I don’t write contracts, and by extension treaties) and beyond the scope of this blog entry, but in its core it effectively limits the number a particular combat spacecraft to any extrasolar nation-state based upon its civilian population per unit of astrotory. Even each spacecraft/starcraft must conform to a particular maximum mass, deltaV, HWDS performance, and weapon loadout to be defined as that particular class.
Did I forget to mention that ratification of the treaty is also a requirement for active diplomatic participation to the Galactic Alliance as a member?
And now, allow me to present unto you all the extremely bare boned layout of humanity’s combat spacecraft, color coded for your convenience. Also note that the ratio of the layouts are not fixed, just merely simplified for easier observation.
Many of you would be wondering by now exactly why the design is laid out horizontally like a ship rather than vertically like as expected of much hard sci-fi. Well, to be honest, I figured that it would be easier for you, the reader, to look back and forth between the image and the following color coded descriptions to have a basic idea of what I hand in mind.
The grey segments are the solid-state armor that is almost required for combat spacecraft (though civilian models would also require armor as they dive into the nearest star for HWDS-based interstellar travel) and nearly all orbital combat would mandate the armor to be focused towards the path of travel (or top for those inside the tin-can) and utilizing the Whipple Shield concept. Though many of you would notice a particular design choice and wonder why the armor is slanted rather than perpendicular to the rest of the craft. The answer is quite simple really: Sloped Armor.
This fundamental armor design solves many issues both real-world and literary. It solves the mass penalty issue inherent in armor designs since any penetrator (not sure about Directed Energy Weaponry, but I can only assume that the effects will be similar to its kinetic cousins) would have to burrow through more materiel or be deflected off due to the angle of the armor while at the same time lowers the possible minimum amount of said armor, and also justifies combat maneuverability for spacecraft in that the armor works if the sloped armor stays sloped compared to the path of the incoming round rather than perpendicular.
The armor also protects the leading edge of any radiator system to allow a combat spacecraft to have an extended endurance from waste heat (unless the attacker does an orbital rendition of “crossing the T”).
The blue rectangle is the habitat module where nearly all of the onboard spacer crew (and passengers in the form of espaciers and the like). Though don’t expect the habitat module to be as large as indicated in the above image. In fact, though several combat starcraft could reach and exceed the kilometer length mark, the actual habitation (barring access crawl spaces and Tele-Op Drone tunnels) would be little more elbow room than a contemporary attack submarine. The habitat module would also have a single sided radiator running parallel to the surface of the module itself.
The red segments are the spacecraft’s primary radiators. There’s little additional detail needed to explain them (as far as I see).
The green segments are the tanks, filled with remass, power core fuel, and the like to both power the spacecraft and provide thrust.
The yellow oval is effectively where the power core is located which primarily powers the combat spacecraft’s torch drive and onboard weapon systems. The type of power core varies by need from the traditional thermonuclear fusion and anti-matter to the Spacetime Expansion Flow Dam (SEFD), though naturally there are secondary power units strategically scattered across the spacecraft so that life support, force walls, and point defenses are still operational.
And finally, the purple segment represents the torch drive itself. Naturally, the torch drive does not utilize the traditional Bell Nozzle of classical rocketry, but rather the Plug Nozzle. This nozzle design also allows the use of two different kinds of thrust vectoring: Iris Nozzle type for high combat performance and electromagnetic Cascade Vanes for low-thrust maneuverability.
Anyway, discuss below and please, try to be civil in your responses. And speaking of responses, I would respond more easily if you display your screen name in your comments.
EDIT 8-5-2016: I've changed a few of the hyperlinks dealing with the types of capital-type combat spacecraft from Wikipedia and TVtropes links to those of the Future War Stories blog. Said website gives a better explanation of said subjects that make for far more interesting and dynamic deep space constellation composition both Main Line and Independent Patrol.
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