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.
While reading the articles on both anti-matter production from vacuum via high-energy lasers and worldship design as relayed by the Atomic Rockets Blog (I assume..?), a thought had occurred that morphed with the idea of Avatar’s ISA Venture Star and out came this idea:
Allow me to introduce to you all my rough idea of the Slower-Than-Light Generational Worldcraft utilizing the basic layout of the Valkyrie Antimatter Starship as innovated by Dr. Charles Pellegrino and Jim Powell in which the rocket engine itself is towards the nose of the craft instead of the tail as in more conventional design layouts.
Why this design, you may ask, when one of the aforementioned articles’ hypothesis is that anti-matter can be created through solar powered lasers from the vacuum? Or even more, why would the worldcraft need the Valkyrie arrangement when many other such worldship designs have the engine at the tail? Well its quite simple really: Self-Sufficiency and DeltaV budget.
The Self-Sufficiency aspect can already be explained in the aforementioned articles, so there is not much need to go into greater detail. As for the DeltaV equation, well, self sufficiency in the bleak emptiness that is interstellar space each and every gram of mass counts and of course the designer of said STL colonization craft would want to economize as much mass towards self sufficiency as possible. This’ll be much possible if such mass is taken from structural materials whose sole purpose is to simply keep the spacecraft from collapsing upon itself due to the thrust of its rocket engines.
Originally, the Worldcraft of the Golden Age of Humanity were simply propelled by Solar/Laser Sails and then arrive at a target star system via a magnetic sail as explained in this article, however the Discovery News article has enlightened me to an alternative form of self-sufficient propulsion that would allow for a more prompt travel time (that is, if given enough remass for both Departure and Arrival acceleration phases for such velocities). Of course, the Laser Produced Anti-Matter factory model could be instead symbolize an advancement of STL Worldcraft propulsion.
As with the Gunboat Diplomacy entry, the sections of the Valkyrie Worldcraft are similarly color coded, not to scale, and oriented horizontally for convenience. The Reds are Radiators, Blue the habitation section, the Brown the support structure (not sure if I mentioned it or not in the last blog entry….) and other such miscellaneous parts, Purple the engines to which many would have noticed the more obvious Plug Nozzle design than the traditional Bell Nozzle, Yellow the reactor, Grey for Armor, Green for Remass Tanks, along with new colors of Black, Light Blue, and Orange.
The Black is the tether, or “Tensile Truss” to which the majority of the Valkyrie Worldcraft is attached to and dragged by the rocket engine on its flight. You may also notice that the Brown “Support Body” sections also kinda weave itself around the primary tether which mostly facilitates increased strength in not only tensile support but also when the Worldcraft must flip around to initiate the Arrival acceleration phase to allow the starcraft to enter the target star system rather than to overshoot.
The Light Blue is effectively the spaceport facilities, industrial sections, and other such workstations that don’t require centrifugal force to operate. Why would a Worldcraft need a spaceport? Well the colonists have got to get onto a habitable planet somehow and the starcraft ain’t exactly aerodynamic enough for atmospheric entry, let alone landing. Not to mention that it would be most wise for the Valkyrie Worldcraft inhabitancy to perform mining operations and other such resource collection while they’re in the area for either construction of the first settlement or to fabricate replacement parts.
Then there’s the issue of propellant when it comes to HLV and shuttles: Remass. In short, just how will the colonists move around in space while maintaining self-sufficiency. Well, other than utilizing water as a remass from nearby asteroids at the new star system, there’s also the idea that they can use the Anti-Matter produced onboard to power their spacecraft. The stuff is powerful stuff, which also means a high amount of safety precautions would be required to ensure that there isn’t a premature detonation.
The Orange are the Thermal Tiles designed mostly to protect the Tensile Truss from the Anti-Matter engines, which are angled outward to prevent the extremely hot exhaust from harming the rest of the Valkyrie Worldcraft ala ISV Venture Star despite what is seen in the above picture, and thus not cause any catastrophic weakening of the overall structure.
Now, many of you should have noticed the forward armor upon the Valkyrie Worldcraft and may be wondering why the armor is not only present, but also that the armor is sloped. The armor is there to protect the worldcraft from head on collisions of interstellar debris and it is sloped to not only reduce the amount of armor required for equivalent protection but also to deflect said debris away from the spacecraft.
Why isn’t the shield dragged behind as in the ISV Venture Star, you may wonder. Well, it’s mostly a design choice and a personal choice. I just find the idea of the rocket engine (and radiators, mind you) exposed to such high speed shrapnel during the acceleration phase with the armor at the rear just irksome.
Oh and before I forget, unlike the ISA Venture Star and what is suggested in the image, the Valkyrie Worldship’s radiators and rocket engines are not aligned in parallel but rather in a triangular fashion. That is to say that there are three sets of radiators, three sets of rocket engines, and six remass and reactor fuel tanks. Why isn’t the picture drawn to reflect that, you might ask. Well, in short I’m not confident enough in my computer drawing skills to reflect that design aspect yet.
The Habitation Area, which to the more observant members of my reader audience would note that it resembles the O’Neil Cylinder or more commonly the Island Three space colony design, well that is mostly deliberate since many proposed worldship designs looked like cylinders. That and I’m a Gundam fan.
What else did you expect?
Moving on, you’ll notice that near the hemispherical caps of the Habitation Area that there are rectangular protrusions upon them. These are my answer to the ol’ Gyroscope Problem that I read in an RPG book once: Internal, High Density Flywheels. These Flywheels, combined with the Habitation Cylinder, also offer a reactionless and equally elegant solution to Rotation Control of the Valkyrie Worldcraft. Translation Control……..it’s difficult in the attempt to solve without compromising the Self-Sufficiency of the starcraft itself. Though I can imagine that such issues are less an interstellar problem and more an interplanetary and orbital concern where much of the resources for such remass can be gathered by said colonists.
As for the internal layout of the Habitation Area, I imagine that though it’ll be mostly a Vivarium-style of construction for the cylinder itself, the inner walls will be separated by six panels: three of land and three of water to act as a reservoir for the Valkyrie Worldcraft as a whole. This would prove critical since I would assume that much of the agriculture would be found within the cylinder itself since there is a definite lack of sunlight in interstellar space. Granted, it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine external agricultural modules since the cylinder would be artificially illuminated just as well.
Of course, the Habitation Area doesn’t have to be an Island Three cylinder. It could easily be an Island One Bernal Sphere or a series of Stanford Tori to easily facilitate modularization and customization(1). However, there is a particular limit to the amount of additional Tori and Spheres that could be constructed by the Valkyrie Worldcraft colonists built into the design. What with DeltaV being a concern and such.
I have mentioned that the Worldcrafts were used as a form of STL colonization by the Earth during the Golden Age, and I had a history of such in mind to write down, but I simply forgot so I’ll give you all a summary. In short, astronomy during this time has advanced enough so that habitable world could be detected. Many nations and several corporations sponsored the construction of interstellar colonization. The earliest and most primitive was the use of autonomous robots sent ahead upon high speed rocket engines to the target system to set up the initial settlement to await future colonists. As time passed, these “Leap Frog” colonial expeditions gave way to the STL Worldcraft once rocket engine and fabrication technology had advanced enough to not require an earlier robot expedition to set up the initial settlement. As a consequence, however, these made these earlier Worldcraft expeditions effectively a leap of faith since all that was available was pure observation data of habitable exoplanets. Knowledge of the local biosphere is horrifically limited at best. Additionally, not all of these Worldcrafts have settled down since said data is limited and thus the habitable world may not be as desirable to colonize as initially hoped. Thus, these lost cousins of humanity remain adrift in the darkness of interstellar space and ever seeking a new home….
As for those of you who are thinking that the scenario of the “Jumping the Gun” since the existence of the Hyperspace Warp Dive System is evident, I only have this to say: Collapse of Golden Age World Order, Great Global War and Second Dark Ages got in the way, ‘nuff said.
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 as of August 1st, 2012: Few of you might not have noticed by now, but I have successfully created an anchor-based hyperlink that connects to a certain section of a document or web page. Yay me.
Also, expect me to abuse the *censor* out of that feature in future updates and blog entries.
EDIT as of October 3rd, 2012: Well apparently there's another interesting article on STL interstellar colonization.
Still prefer the O'Neil Cylinder design though....
Get your Portable ID!