UNS Constellation

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UNS Constellation

Post by Hades on Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:04 pm

"One thousand exploration vessels, filled to the brim with human ice-cubes, all with their respective tasks and targets. It wasn't exactly like sending people to war. We knew they wouldn't be coming back - not in our lifetime anyway. What a mess."

Part of Century Exploration Project 2100, a thousand space-faring vessels were constructed in orbit around Earth, Luna, Mars, Venus and inside the asteroid belt. The vast abundance of resources from asteroid mining allowed humanity to realise its dreams of exploring the vast expanse of space, and by the time the Project was complete, the one thousand vessels had been constructed from scratch, armoured, armed, tested and furnished. It was a massive undertaking, one that put into use knowledge that had been slowly developed over the course of millenia.

The UNS Constellation, NXV-268 was the 268th of its class built, and was completed in the 8th of June, 2098. It was built using the schematics of the newly-designed Cosmos-class of Extreme Range Naval Exploration Vessel, one of the first practical demonstrators of the Alcubierre FTL Drive. With a length of one thousand and five hundred meters, it was larger than most non-FTL warships in Sol, save for the dreadnoughts and carriers.




Its main feature was its revolutionary faster-than-light drive. Up until the early 2080s, there were two theories about how one might achieve faster-than-light. The first, and most favoured candidate, was the Einstein-Rosen Spacetime Bridge, also known as a wormhole. With the issues of energy having been solved by the panacea that was the antimatter annihilation reactor, engineers had a lot of power to work with. A ship was built that housed a singularity generator, a device that could create a black hole approximately fifteen picometers in diameter, and then used a magnetic field to shape the particles that made the black hole and narrow its field of influence. The Einstein-Rosen bridge was established in the early morning of April the 7th, 2086, with its entry aperture located one and a half astronomical units from Pluto and its exit planned to be in the middle of the Alpha Centauri star system. The ship entered it...

...and never returned. All transmissions from the vessel ceased as soon as it entered the bridge, and the wormhole collapsed a few seconds later. The quantum entanglement communications relayed only static. The ship was declared destroyed. After that incident, the more 'conservative' Alcubierre Drive was given full funding: it used a similar method to the Einstein-Rosen bridge to bend spacetime, but instead of generating a tunnel between the two areas, it expanded space behind the ship and contracted space in front of it, thus reducing the distance traveled.

The ship never really travels faster than light; it uses conventional antimatter propulsion to accelerate to 0.1c, or about 30,000 kilometers per second, just beneath the relativistic barrier. Then, power from the weapons, armor and all non-critical systems is redirected to the antimatter rocket: massive accelerations are reached, and any personnel not securely fastened to either the wall or their seat are prone to getting violently smashed against the back of the ship. The singularity is used to counter the effects of inertia, although scientists still haven't figured out why that's happening. At 0.995c, the ship's mass has increased tenfold due to special relativity, to become 13,200,000,000 kilograms. At that point, the Alcubierre drive has sufficient relativistic mass to work with. The drive is engaged, and the distance between the ship and its target can decrease to as much as one hundredth of the original. A trip to Alpha Centauri can take as little as two weeks, assuming the Alcubierre engine works at full power. Realistically, the trip would take two months, due to the imprecision of the field calculations.

There is a catch, however. The mass increase corresponds to time dilation. The trip to Alpha Centauri might look like 14 days to an exterior observer, but it would only seem like one and a half day has passed to a passenger. Imprecision in the engine calculations corresponds to time dilation imprecision, and at extremely high near-lightspeed velocities, the relativistic factor increases enough that centuries might pass for an outside observer, while a few years pass for the people inside the ship. Furthermore, the ship can't accelerate too fast, or it will kill its crew. 60% of an FTL jump is spent accelerating or decelerating, and half of that is spent with the actual Alcubierre drive disabled. In addition, the calculations must be extremely precise, or the ship might end up many lightyears off track.

Some scientists have hypothesized that traveling at faster-than-light for extended periods of time could pose extreme risks to the crew due to Cherenkov radiation, coupled with particles colliding with the front of the ship as it moves. Even a few molecules could act as powerful armor-piercing projectiles at such velocities (which is also the basis for handheld particle rifles). Thus, the ship's front is equipped with powerful magnetic field generators and armor, to prevent a catastrophic hull breach. There is, however, another issue: the radiation is collected in the generator like a 'trap', and as soon as the ship decelerates from near-FTL, the radiation and particles are fired in front of it in a bright show of light and deadly particles. Anything caught in front of the ship will be instantly vaporized. The effect increases with the distance traveled.

The visual effect of traveling at near-lightspeed is more than impressive.


Blueshift occurs in front of the ship and redshift occurs behind it, thanks to the Doppler effect. Stars seem distorted to the point of being an incomprehensible blob of blue and red, and thus detecting star positions is impossible; sensors are similarly effected by the Cherenkov radiation, which creates a 'corona' around the ship as particles are constantly annihilated against it.




While the Constellation is an exploration vessel, only a fool would send it to explore alien planets and meet new and interesting races unarmed and unarmored. Taken straight from Sol's battleships, the Constellation's hull is covered with electromagnetic armor, allowing it to decelerate railgun projectiles as they approach and thus remove their deadly potential. A set of electric-reactive armor beneath the field annihilates and detonates explosive shells prematurely, and conventional titanium armor beneath takes care of non-relativistic projectile cannons. Laser, flak and CIWS point defense systems ensure that missiles, nuclear or otherwise, have trouble getting through. Ablative coating scatters laser beams.

On the weapons department, the Constellation comes with three main systems.

The first and primary weapons are the railguns; dozens of impressive turrets are positioned around the hull, and can accelerate projectiles to relativistic speeds to make them as strong as small nuclear bombs. Sadly, the shells tend to go right through the enemy ship, and they can't deliver most of their kinetic energy to the target; hence, they are most often used to take out subsystems instead of destroying the target.

The second system is the lasers. Numerous laser emitters provide full 360-degree coverage of the ship, and can devastate enemy hulls at close ranges. With enough persistence, the beams can cut vessels in half, but that often doesn't happen due to ablative armor and clever navigation.

Finally, a range of torpedo and missile tubes allow the Constellation's command crew to fire nuclear and non-nuclear missiles at will, although the reserves are fairly limited. These warheads can annihilate enemy ships instantly, thanks to their antimatter enrichment, but wasting them would be a poor tactical decision: the ship only has a few dozens of antimatter torpedoes, and the weaker fission and fusion weapons are not as powerful. These weapons, however, are mostly useless against missile defenses.

In Sol, so far, battle has followed a very predictable pattern. At a range beyond 30,000 kilometers, railgun fire is exchanged by both sides, using the AIs of the ships to calculate the best firing solutions. Due to how fast the projectiles are, delay doesn't become an issue up to 150,000 kilometers distance. When the ships get within 30,000 kilometers, they begin to exchange laser beams, which get stronger as the distance is reduced. At knife-fighting distance, at about 5,000 kilometers, the lasers are at their optimal range and the railguns have a hard time keeping up with the rapid changes in relative position. Both ships try to cripple the other's missile defenses, and when they do, they try to force nukes through to destroy the enemy vessel.

With no extraterrestrials to ask, however, combat with alien races remains speculation. For now.




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Hades
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