Though egocasting is a common method of personal transport and it’s often easier to simply transmit the specifications for various goods and to allow nanofactories to create duplicates, spacecraft play an important role in the solar system, carrying both passengers and valuable cargo. Both in terms of materials and propulsion, spacecraft in the post-Fall era are far superior to the primitive vessels used in the 20th and early 21st centuries, but they are still based on the same principles.
Spacecraft have few stats in Eclipse Phase, as they are primarily handled as setting rather than vehicles. Note also that no stats are given for spacecraft weaponry. It is highly recommended that space combat be handled as a plot device rather than a combat scene, given the extreme lethality and danger involved. If you absolutely must know the DV of a spacecraft weapon, treat it as a a standard weapon with a DV multiplier of x3 for small craft (fighters and shuttles), x5 for medium craft, and x10 for larger craft.
The most important part of any spacecraft is its engine, and the most important features of any engine are the exhaust velocity, which determines how much fuel the rocket requires to reach a given speed, and the engine’s thrust, which determines how high the acceleration can be. Any rocket that has a thrust of less than approximately twice the gravity of a planet or moon cannot take off from that planet or moon.
- Hydrogen-Oxygen Rocket (HO): Though optimized with improved engine design and light-weight materials, these are essentially the same primitive rockets that humanity used to first reach the moon in the 20th century. These are rarely used and only common with groups too poor or primitive to safely manufacture metallic hydrogen.
- Metallic Hydrogen Rocket (MH): Metallic hydrogen is a solid form of hydrogen created using exceedingly high pressures. Although naturally unstable, it can be stabilized with carefully controlled electrical and magnetic fields, and these field generators are an integral part of every metallic hydrogen fuel tank. By selectively reducing these fields near the exhaust nozzle, small amounts of metallic hydrogen can be made to swiftly and explosively revert to conventional hydrogen gas, propelling the rocket with great force in an easily controlled fashion. Metallic hydrogen engines are used in most planetary landers and short range vehicles.
- Plasma Rocket (P): This drive heats hydrogen into plasma and accelerates it using a powerful electrical field. This type of rocket was very common in the mid 21st century, but has been superseded by fusion rockets and is only used in older and more primitive spacecraft, notably scum barges.
- Fusion Rocket (F): Similar to a plasma rockets, fusion rockets require significantly higher temperatures and pressures, and the rocket also produces large amounts of power for the spacecraft. Fusion rockets are now the most common form of propulsion for spacecraft designed for long-distance voyages.
- Anti-Matter Rocket (AM): Anti-matter rockets work mixing small amounts of anti-matter into the hydrogen fuel, producing enormous amounts of energy and an exceptionally fast and powerful exhaust. These rockets typically carry a heavily shielded magnetically contained anti-matter storage vessel carrying a mass of anti-matter equal to 1% of the mass of the hydrogen fuel used by the rocket. The magnetic containment vessels needed to safely contain antimatter usually weight at least 10 times the mass of the antimatter used.
Though anti-matter storage is exceptionally safe, the vast energy release possible if there was an accident means that anti-matter rockets are forbidden from coming closer than 25,000 km from any inhabited planet or moon. Also, very few habitats will allow an anti-matter rocket to dock with them, and instead require the spacecraft to remain at least 10,000 km away and for all cargo and passengers to be transferred using a small craft like a small LOTV. Anti-matter is exceedingly expensive to produce and so anti-matter rockets are only used in military vessels and in fast couriers designed to carry critical cargoes across the solar system in short periods of time.
Escaping Gravity WellsEdit
Sample thrusts and gravities are listed to escape gravity wells.
The following is a representative sample of the most common type of spacecraft used in the solar system today.
- Bulk Carrier: This vessel is simply a standard transport refitted to carry large amounts of cargo in external cargo grapples. Used for carrying refined ores, ice, and similar forms of large, useful, but low priority cargos, bulk carriers transport large cargos at relatively low velocities. They also offer an inexpensive, reliable, and slow method for passengers to travel from one habitat to another and are not infrequently used by individuals who wish to disappear for a while. Unlike the standard transport, the bulk carrier lacks the rotating habitat pods.
- Courier: In a standard transport, a typical journey from Luna to Mars requires approximately three weeks, while a journey from Mars to Jupiter requires approximately four months. This is sufficient for most purposes, but occasionally characters need to take themselves or sufficiently valuable cargoes across the solar system in a matter of days or weeks, instead of weeks or months. Anti-matter drive fast couriers are vessels designed for this specific purpose. This vessel can travel from Venus to Mars in a week and from Mars to Jupiter in a month. The fast courier is the swiftest vessels currently made and is able to reach at much as one half of one percent of the speed of light. To manage this, this spacecraft must also carry 6 tons of antimatter in a 100 ton magnetic containment vessel. In an emergency, this containment facility can be jettisoned.
- Destroyer: One of the largest military spacecraft in common use, destroyers use an antimatter drive holding 150 tons of antimatter in a 2,000-ton magnetic containment vessel. This antimatter can also be used to provide the spacecraft’s missiles with anti-matter for devastatingly powerful anti-matter warheads. This spacecraft is also armed with railguns, nuclear and high explosive missiles, and point defense lasers. In addition, all destroyers carry a contingent of 20 fighters.
- Fighter: This small, short range military vessel is designed to be crewed by an infomorph or AI. If needed, however, it can hold a single synthmorph or vaccumadapted biomorph as a pilot. It carries 3 lasers and 2 railguns mounted on small pods placed around the middle of ship that can fire in any direction. A single missile launcher is located in the nose of the fighter and typically holds 6 small high explosive missiles or tactical nuclear missiles (or even anti-matter missiles if facing high-threat targets).
- General Exploration Vehicle (GEV): A GEV is one of the standard vehicles used for exploration beyond the Pandora Gates. It is specifically designed to handle almost any environment. It is a boxy vehicle, 6 meters long, 2.2 meters wide, and 2 meters high. It makes extensive use of smart matter in the lower part of the chassis, and can create wheels or short legs (primarily useful for exceedingly rough terrain). It can even produce limited hull streamlining and propulsion suitable for travel both on and underwater. In addition, it contains a small metallic hydrogen engine that allow it to maneuver in space with an acceleration of up to 0.1 G. GEVs have a Maximum Velocity of 200 (wheeled)/40 (walker)/60 (sea)/40 (submerged). The GEV also has a closed cycle life support system that can support up to 6 (fairly cramped) living occupants for up to one month and limited electromagnetic shielding against charged particle radiation. All models are fitted with advanced AI piloting and navigation as well as limited self-repair capacity. In addition, GEV’s have an extensible airlock, a single healing vat, several desktop CMs, and a variety of sensors, including both radar and telescopic full spectrum cameras.
- Large Lander and Orbit Transfer Vehicle (LLOTV): This common vehicle is used for transporting passengers and cargo between a planet or moon and orbit and for short distance transfers between habitats less than 100,000 km apart. This conical vehicle has a curved heat shield on the base and smart material landing legs and grapples so that it can rest securely on any stable terrain and link up with all forms of docking clamps. It comes in variants designed to use either a hydrogen-oxygen chemical rocket or a metallic hydrogen rocket. The use of light-weight smart materials allows the interior to be easily and rapidly reconfigured to accommodate different amounts of fuel, passenger seats, and cargo space. LLOTVs that are not designed for planetary landing or which are designed only to land on airless moons are unstreamlined and look considerably blockier.
LLOTVs come in two configurations: high or low velocity.
High velocity configuration allows the vehicle to land and take off again on Venus or Earth without refueling and for rapid transport between nearby habitats.
Low velocity configuration is designed to land and take off again on Mars or various large moons without refueling and for slower and more fuel efficient transport between nearby habitats. The extensive use of smart materials in this vehicle means that LLOTVs that use metallic hydrogen engines can be easily converted between the high and low velocity configurations, requiring less than a day in a wellequipped maintenance facility. However, vessels using hydrogen oxygen engines cannot be converted. Since metallic hydrogen is a much more efficient propellant, landers using it always include significant amounts of extra propellant for emergencies.
- Scum Barge: These huge craft were originally designed for use during the first stages of the evacuation of Earth. They were built to carry up to 20,000 people and to allow them to survive for months or even years, in relatively cramped conditions, until more suitable habitats could be constructed. A number of these vessels are still in service, primarily used as mobile habitats by various anarchic subcultures. The best have had their plasma rockets replaced by modern fusion rockets and carry 5-10,000 in relative comfort. The worst use aging plasma rockets and stretch their life support systems and living spaces to the limit, carrying up to 25,000 poor and desperate residents.
- Small Lander and Orbit Transfer Vehicle (SLOTV): This vehicle is identical in use and design to the LLOTV, except that it is one third the total mass and correspondingly less expensive to build and refuel. Some exceptionally wealthy individuals own private small LOTVs. Using a small LOTV with a hydrogenoxygen engine to take off and land on Venus or for other high velocity uses is exceptionally cramped and allows for absolutely no room for error. Like the LLOTV, this vehicle can be easily converted between low and high velocity configurations and is made in both streamlined and non-streamlined versions.
- Standard Transport: This vessel is one of the most common freighter and passenger vessel in the solar system. While egocasting is by far the most common form of inter-habitat transport, some people prefer to travel by ship and others do not wish to leave their current morph behind. In addition, some goods are easier or cheaper to physically transport rather than duplicating their templates. As a result, standard transports regularly travel to and from every large habitat and inhabited planet and moon in the solar system. These are modern fusion-drive ships that offer fast and comfortable travel for passengers as well as relatively swift transport for small cargoes. One of the additional benefits of the standard transport is the fact that it contains four separate passenger compartments, each of which is mounted on a 90 meter-long booms that can extend and rotate to simulate gravity. When rotating at a comfortable 2 rpm, passengers experience Mars level gravity. Typically, the gravity maintained in these pods starts at the local gravity (or Mars gravity, if the local gravity is higher) and over the course of the journey gradually increases or decreases to the gravity of the destination. However, these pods cannot rotate to produce gravity higher than that found on Mars.