Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sleeper Ships

Before Egocasting and Resleeving became "mature" technologies which most consider to be safe in the right circumstances, physical travel in space was the only way for mankind to colonize the Solar System - both with automated bots and human colonists. However, for quite some time space travel was considered particularly time consuming - and even now compared to alternatives many long distance trips can take multiple months to complete as the ships wrestle with the vast distances of space and the movement of orbital mechanics. This made colony ships and commercial travel between planets a bit of a limited business which would leave people in groups for lengths of time - and was not considered ideal by many. Medical stasis technology altered that, however, bringing about a type of ship which is now basically antiquated.

Sleeper Ship: This type of ship is a Plasma Drive model based along the same principles as modern Bulk Carriers and Standard Transports - a central spar which contains the drive and engineering components which additional modules are placed around. However, unlike the Transport, the Sleeper Ship does not feature many seperate passenger compartments, and in fact, many feature only one habitation ring or module for crew and to acclimate passengers to gravity if needed. Instead, the bulk of additional space is taken up by non-rotating storage modules which are racked with stasis pods, similar to a Morph Storage Pod (p. 175 Firewall). These modules, crewed by professional staff, can hold a morph safely in a medical stasis for the months which may be required for a long space journey. The pods mean that a larger bulk of passengers can be carried - but some people may find the idea of a "sleeper ticket" uncomfortable.

As modern spacecraft became faster and more reliable, and egocasting technology emerged, Sleeper Ships rapidly became a niche market. While they could carry more passengers, the delicateness required by the stasis technology made them more expensive and resource intense than simply moving to resleeving to move workers around the system except in the largest of numbers, and they began to fall out of fashion. The Fall rekindled briefly the desire for Sleepers - many of the ships were recommissioned and hastily utilized to aid in the evacuation of Earth. Some worked, taking bulks of unconscious survivors to the closest locales like Mars or Venus. Some cut ties all together and joined Scum Swarms - much to the surprise of many sleepers. Other cases show the ongoing tragedy that was the Fall: Many sleepers never made it to their destination, disappearing into the Void to occasionally be spotted by astronomers or scavengers. Some sleeper ships hijacked their passengers, taking them as hostages or slaves for their own personal gain. Many sleeper ships never left the Earth, as transhuman raiders or TITAN forces attacked them before they could get underway - killing hundreds in their "sleep".

In AF 10, Sleeper Ships are still very niche. Depending on whose registry you check, there's between several dozen and several hundred ships of this class still in operation. Mostly they are an avenue for bioconservative travel which wants to bypass the long experience of space - meaning they tend to be concentrated around the Earth Orbital region, running to and from many destinations. Physical colonists or explorers who need to get to a distant moonlet, asteroid or hab may also elect to take long-haul Sleeper rides to the distant fringe. The Jovian Republic is highly interested in the Sleeper Ship technology, taking great pains to acquire several ships in intact condition over the years. One contracted group, Ellis Transport, runs a regular circuit from Ganymede to Luna to collect immigrants and visiting officials. There are even reports that JR's top aerospace contractors are trying to advance Sleeper Ship technology - attempting to build long-distance ships which might make it to a nearby star in a "worst case" scenario, but at the moment their designs appear to be just theoretical.

Passenger Capacity: 12 (300 Stasis)
Handling: N/A
AV 20 DUR 725 WT 145

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