Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spacecraft Spotlight #5 The Firebird Trans-Martian Transport

Firebird-class Trans-Martian Transport

        As mentioned in Ships of the Black Desert: Phoenix Spaceplane, The civilian version of the Phoenix, the Firebird-class Spaceplane, is frequently the transport of choice for travels of from the UACS to Mars or other colonies and outposts in the Black Desert area of Deep space. 


        The main differences between the Phoenix- and Firebird-class spacecraft lay in the Cargo Bay section of the respective spaceplanes.  The Firebird, in its passenger configuration at least, lacks a true Cargo Bay completely; the module is replaced with a Passenger Bay.  This independent module has its own power, life-support, and consumables and does not effect the systems of the parent craft in any significant way.

      Passenger Bay: This area of the Firebird spaceplane is the domain of paying customers taking the ten-week cruise to Mars.  The bulk of the compartment is occupied by eight cabins offering improved accommodations for their guests.  In addition to all of the amenities enjoyed by the crew in their cabins, each of these small staterooms have their own sink basins offering hot and warm water for convenience and hygiene purposes.
          Between these staterooms and the skin of the module are maintenance catwalks that offer access to the Passenger Bay's air scrubbers, consumables and supplementary atmosphere tanks.  There is an airlock at the aft of the Passenger Bay as well as pressure door access to the Firebird's Logistics Bay in the front.
          The fore of the Passenger Bay also houses the compartment's galley and lavatory.  These units are for all intents and purposes identical to the facility used by the crew, and any replacement parts or fabrication templates used by one set of hardware will work on the other.
          Directly in front of the catwalk access points are recharge points for a group of four steward robots.  These robotic servitors prepare the meals, perform routine maintenance, and generally look after the passengers welfare.

          LIFE ON BOARD
        The  passenger accommodations on board a Firebird spaceplane would be considered more than satisfactory if it were not for the length of the trans-Martian run.  With ten weeks to kill and only a few cubic meters of space to do it in, trips can easily become almost suicidally monotonous.  Fortunately, such accommodations are supplemented by a robust integrated virtual world system that allows passengers to occupy themselves in nearly anyway they can imagine.  In addition, most of the IPVs that such spaceplanes are linked to for the long orbit to Mars allow visits by passengers from their parasite craft.  Such visits cost an average of 70-80 LSU for a 24 hour pass, or 15-20 LSU for a four-hour "eating and entertainment" pass.  These types of passes include basic meals for the passenger; duty-free shops, casinos, and other such distractions can end up costing passengers much, much more.
          Another consideration is the cost/weight allowance passengers must contend with when planning their trips.  The base cost of transport to Mars from the surface of Terra on a Firebird is 5000 LSU.  This price allows a total passanger mass of 100 kgs - inluding luggage.  This means that an average mass male (around 90 kgs) may carry 10 kgs of luggage without penalty.  Larger passengers must either carry less luggage or pay a penalty fee of 10 LSU/kg.  Families may average their combined masses in order to avoid this by buying adult-rate tickets for their children and using the mass difference to carry extra luggage.
          Among other things, this kind of mass schedule is one of the origins of the traditional "bon voyage feast" served the first evening of an interplanetary voyage.

         One of the major headaches for GMs in a Hard SF campaign is how to handle the long trip times between planets.  This is one of the reasons that IPVs in The Black Desert are so large and carry so many smaller craft with different passengers and crew.  A typical IPV will carry up to 14 passenger rockets docked on its centrifuges, which offer PC a large number of NPCs to interact with.  About three quarters of these will be Firebird/Phoenix spaceplanes, or Heinlein rockets.  Because of this, the above map and the Phoenix PDF can be used for as many as six different spacecraft docked to a IPV during the long flight to Mars.  This should afford enterprising Players many role-playing opportunities, and not a few potential combat scenarios as well.  It is illegal according to the Treaty of Mars to abandon a spacecraft in deep space; the worst that will happen to PC that start a ruckus on an IPV is confinement to their passenger craft of origin.  Of course, it is not unheard of for accidents to happen...

Firebird-class Trans-Martain Transport
All stats identical to the Phoenix spaceplane except:
Passengers: 16
Cargo Capacity: 1 ton (1.5 cubic meter)
Consumables: 1890 crew-days (9.5 metric tons)
Avionics: +2D

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