Friday, May 20, 2011

Spacecraft Spotlight #6: The Santa Teresa

Called “the most expensive ambulance in history” by its detractors, the Santa Teresa is a unique variant of the Marquisa Gras design. The spacecraft is a humanitarian transport for the extremely sick and also for medical supplies anywhere in Terra/Luna orbital space. What makes the Santa Teresa special is intrinsic in her design: She is the fastest spacecraft ever built.

When Pope Francis decided to make a pilgrimage to Shackleton Crater after the end of the Great War, the Holy Catholic Church's main concern was the Pontiff's failing health. Therefore, at great expense, a Marquisa Gras transport was modified into an emergency courier that could, if needed, bring the Holy Father back to Earth in the case of emergency. Fortunately for the half-billion Catholics of the System, the Santa Teresa was not needed in this capacity. Currently, the craft is operated by the orbital branch of Our Lady of Calcutta delivering medical supplies to Luna periodically and assisting spacecraft in distress.

The Santa Teresa gets its incredible speed by virtue of sacrificing all of its available cargo space. The volume is devoted instead to massive LOX/LH² tanks. The typical bank of four thrusters have been replaced with a singe engine that can deliver over a million kilograms of thrust. This amount of drive power is rarely used, as the spacecraft is normally operated at a single gee of constant acceleration. This constant-boost capability lets the Santa Teresa traverse the quarter-million kilometers between Terra and Luna in only six hours.

The interior of the life system has been reworked as well. The Coach accommodations have been removed and replaced with two sickbeds that are fully equipped with tele-operation systems and designed to be sealed for use in free-fall. There is double the life support capacity on board the Santa Teresa, with the extra atmosphere tanks and filtration gear installed in the former gym compartment. The master computer system that monitors the two sick rooms is also installed in this secondary compartment, which allows the Teresa to transport quarantined patients.

While there are still two passenger compartments, these are normally filled with medical supplies being ferried to Luna or stand empty to receive stranded spacers.

The Santa Teresa is the fastest way to get to Luna from Terra, period. This ability may come in handy for dramatic moments when the course of the game needs a fast transition. Antagonistic NPCs who have gotten hold of this craft (or have fabricated a clone) would provide a nasty surprise by being able to run down as anything else in space. That being said, the spacecraft is not armed and adding weapons to it will dig into the Teresa's available -V. Also, the travel time for a constant-boost spacecraft of any type is extremely limited and for a chemically-powered rocket like the Santa Teresa long distance or time-intensive missions are out of the question.

Craft: Modified EASA Transport Orbital-44 Marquisa Gras
Type: Emergency Trans-Lunar Transport
Length: 32 meters
Crew: 3; one dedicated medic
Crew Skill: Medicine/First Aid: 6D; Spacecraft Maintenance/Marquisa Gras: 3D (Luna Run); Spacecraft Operation/Marquisa Gras: 4D (Luna Run
Passengers: 8 (6 refugees, two critical patients)
Cargo Capacity: 5 metric tons (at the expense of passengers)
Consumables: 16 crew-days (25 kilograms)
Fusion Powered? No
Safety Threshold: 10
Acceleration: 1g
-V: 3600
Hull Strength: 2D
Damage Range: 8
Avionics: 2D
Weapons Systems: none

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