Monday, February 21, 2011

Spacecraft Spotlight #2: Tiantang de Gong-Class Station

Tiantang de Gong-class Station
The Zhang Qing-class Orbital Cutter is the backbone of the Chinese Alliance's new "One Gun Navy". These spartan vessels, being incapable of atmospheric reentry, must be resupplied and crewed in orbit. In order to facilitate this, the Alliance has created a handful of replenishment stations to service their spacecraft. These are the Tiantang de Gong-class space stations.

The Tiantang de Gong (Heavenly Bow) stations are nearly as no-frills in their construction as the cutters they are meant to service. Consisting of a central core with a cargo airlock on one end and an avionics boom on the other, the Tiantangs are ringed with a set of four pressurized trusses around the midsection that end in docking airlocks. The main cargo airlock is used to dock the enormous cargo drones sent into orbit for resupply missions. These drones have space in the nose for passengers, and this is the usual manner for sending new crews into space.
A fully occupied station.
The docking trusses allow up to four Zhang Qings to use the station at once. Because the stations are radially symmetrical, the Tiantang de Gongs can be spun for artificial gravity. Usually, however, the stations are left without spin to facilitate the transfer of heavy cargo. Supplies such as propellant and lithium for the cutter's radiators are transferred externally, with the assistance of cargo arms that are mounted two to a truss. The crews' food and life support supplies are transferred internally via the stations cargo lock and then through the internal Cargo Bay and the docking trusses. Each truss also has two pair of radiators. These radiators are sufficient not only for the station's need, but can be used to dissipate the waste heat from the docked craft as well.
The Tiantang de Gong stations are powered by nano-batteries stored in the upper section of the central core. The batteries are recharged via the fusion reactors of the docked cutters during cargo transfers, making for an efficiently symbiotic relationship. Cargo transfers can take in upwards of twelve to twenty- four hours, with an average of six hours per Zhang Qing serviced. During these transfers, all ships are required to remain docked to the station.

The deckplans for the Zhang Qing can be used for the interior of the Tiantang de Gong. The Cockpit is located in the upper deck, with the floor toward the avionics boom. The Habitat Deck for the station will have the Lavatory moved to the compartment that houses the Atmosphere Tanks. The galley is moved to the Mess compartment's area, and the station's larger Mess compartment is in the section of the Cargo/Supply Room closest to the Gym alcove. The Gym alcove itself is missing in the station. The additional empty spaces on the Habitat Deck are used for the airlocks to the docking trusses. There are an additional four free fall berths in these alcoves, for the temporary use of replacement crews. The cargo bay, which will be in between the Airlock Deck and Habitat Deck, is featureless save for the supplies stored within it. The Airlock Deck for the stations lack spacesuits; instead these compartments contain six emergency rescue balls that can be used to move trapped crew members.

The Tiantang's Habitat Deck

The Tiantang de Gong space stations only offer their guest one luxury that the Zhang Qing cutters do not: company. During the course of cargo transfers, duty rosters are set up so that one crew is on station in their ship, one is moving cargo, and two are off duty. This gives each crew a twelve hour window where they can socialize with the crew of another craft, and any additional personnel that have been sent up as replacements. Seeing as how these cargo missions occur once a month during an average six-month deployment, The opportunity to rest in a compartment that is not on one's ship, and talk to people that one does not see every day is considered a luxury indeed. The most common disciplinary punishment used aboard the Zhang Qings is the restriction of off duty time spent in the Tiantang de Gong stations.
The amenities of the station are less appreciated by the replacement crew's coming aboard.  These fresh crews must tolerate crowded conditions, even less privacy than they will have aboard their Zhang Qings and are most likely enjoying the nausea that accompanies most people their first days in space. In addition is the depressing knowledge that at the end of their tours, these tiny stations will feel like the height of luxury. 

The Tiantang de Gong space stations have been released in open-source versions by the Chinese Alliance. This means that GMs can use the station design for virtually any small scale orbital facility around Terra, Mars or Luna. Some options include emergency way stations for damaged craft, laboratories and, with the addition of a pair of Conestoga rovers (minus their drive trains) on each docking truss, as orbital hotels or miniature colonies. Long term occupation will require either frequent resupply from the mother planet, or the addition of greenhouses and a reactor for power.

Tiantang de Gong-class Orbital Space Station
Craft: Zhang Qing-class Ordital Cutter
Type: Light Space Station
Length: 50 meters (diameter with trusses, core 6 meters)
Skill: Spacecraft Operation; Tiantang de Gong
Crew: none (transients only)
Passengers: up to 8
Cargo Capacity: 84 metric tons
Safety Threshold: 5
Consumables: 512 crew days (with cargo drone attached)
Fusion Power? No
Acceleration: none (stationary)
Delta V: none (stationary)
Hull Strength: 2D
Damage Range: 6
Avionics: +2D

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