Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for Navigation (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

Kicking off the second half of the April A to Z Blog Challenge is the Navigation room!  I've done a lot of work on the subject of spacecraft crew in a more realistic setting, but for large starships in science-fantasy...what the hell are all those people doing, anyway?  Thankfully, the works of people like Hans Jensson and Curtis Saxton have given me some ideas as to what all those people are doing.

My take is this:  The mass of a mile-long starship would probably be measured in giga-tons.  The typical soft-SF dodge for  moving such a mass is that the same gravity control that lets films of space adventure not spend half the budget on wire work simulating free fall can be used to lighten the amount of mass the engines push and lessen the effect of inertia, letting big ships move with those tiny rockets and practically non-existent reactant tanks.  Even with all of that, the gas in the tanks must be neutronium, metallic hydrogen, or some other exotic matter kept in what is for all practical purposes an artificial black hole - it's that dense.  I did some rough calculations once, and in order for those fancy hypermatter reactors to annihilate 40,000 tons of fuel a second the reactant used would have to have a density of 200 tons per cubic centimeter. So that has to be kept a crushing gravity on the inside and practically weightless on the outside.

No imagine moving all that crap faster than the speed of light. 

Needless to say, you're going to need a few people keeping track of all of that, in order to keep parts form reverting to their normal weight at the worst possible time.

1. Crew Pit:  This is where the business of driving that monster happens.  The Crew Pits are sunk 1.5 meters into the floor, keeping the crew distracted from all those windows.

2. Command Balcony:  This gives the commanders an unobstructed view of  consoles in the crew pits.  The Balcony is raised up seventy-five centimeters from the deck.  The sides are festooned with view screens for the benefit of the crew in the pits.  The raised platform allows the commanders to be totally distracted by all those windows.

3. "Chart Room":  FTL Navigation is bi...big chore.  The Chart Room is dominated by a massive holo table for mapping a course across the stars, a 6-meter wide viewscreen and several work stations were mass calculations and astrogation are performed.  Depending on the difficulty of astrogation in your setting, this area could just as easily be a CIC

4. Offices:  All the major department heads have offices on the Navigation Deck.  They are tiny and functional, with a single work station and stool.  Mostly, the yeoman and adjuncts do screen work in there.

5. Encryption Room:  Whenever you receive a priority message from Starfleet, or the Emperor commands you to make contact with him, this is were you answer the call.

6. Break Room:  A small conference table and refreshment alcove are available between another grouping of offices.  Not surprisingly, the senior department heads would have their office here.

7. Ladder: The two ladder wells in this area offer emergency access to the decks below.  Because this is the de facto Bridge, guards are posted in this area to watch the lifts, ladders, and corridors.

8: Lift: There are two lifts servicing the Navigation Deck, which is good for evacuating the area when those big windows in areas 1 and 2 are blown out.


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