Campaign of the Month: December 2016
Gamma World 2754
Vehicle: Surface To Orbit Shuttle System
24-meter delta wing HTOL/VTOL orbital shuttles operational at the end of the 25th century.
Description: 24-meter tall delta wing HTOL/VTOL orbital shuttle with 16-meter wingspan. There is room for 12 personnel and 20 metric tons of cargo. The main propulsion is anuetronic hydrogen-boron fusion with a pulsed emissions direct drive. The greater part of the output is used to power a large anti-gravity generator reducing effective mass by 60% at 1500m elevation (65% at sea level) and providing limited acceleration and maneuver without using the direct drive.
Summary: Crew:12/anuetronic fusion + anti-gravity/HIII/-NA-/ST:1500/AC:3/20,000kg cargo/Fuel Cap:2500kg boron-hydrogen pellets + 16 atomic cells(1 day backup power per cell)/Fuel Consumption:2500kg=3LEO, 2MEO, or 1HEO/GSO launches/Speed:50000kph
- Complexity: H
- Tech Level: III
- Value: 8000 (parts usable in the 28th century), 60000 (if able to launch)
- Structure: 1500 (critical threshold: 75)
- AC: 3
- Crew: 12
- Cargo: 20,000kg (1000kg is pressurized; 10-meter remotely operated cargo crane)
- Power: anuetronic hydrogen-boron fusion with a pulsed emissions direct drive. The greater part of the output is used to power a large anti-gravity generator that reduces mass by 60% at this elevation (65% at sea level). Twin ramjets deliver extra thrust when speed reaches 2000kph. Launch signature at full power is perhaps 1/3rd that of the 20th century ‘Space Shuttle’ main engines.
- Fuel Capacity: 2500kg boron-hydrogen pellets + 16 atomic cells providing emergency back up power for anti-grav maneuver pods, navigation and life support systems – 1 day backup power per cell (expended sequentially).
- Fuel Consumption: 2500kg=3LEO, 2MEO, or 1HEO/GSO launches. 70-80% of fuel is used getting into orbit. Only 20-30% is needed for re-entry. The STOSS is more like a ‘space plane/ VTOL’ than a 20th century ‘space shuttle’. Most of the deceleration from orbital velocity is accomplished while still above atmosphere, again through the magic of fusion power + anti-gravity generators.
- Launch: Able to launch vertically by first levitating on anti-gravity pods then progressively shifting power to the direct drive thrusters as orientation is shifted to the vertical (zero degree orientation and full power is achieved at approximately 1200m altitude).
- Landing: The shuttle can perform re-entry from orbit and a powered vertical/horizontal landing on any flat firm surface at least 30m across at its narrowest dimension (PIL:AVG to avoid 10d100 damage and 1-100m off target), but cannot launch again unless landed at a STOSS facility with functioning MBC. Can perform a dead-reactor re-entry using atomic cells only – 6 cells required (PILOTING:HARD check to avoid 20d100 damage and 0-99km off target, VHARD if only 3-5 cells).
- Speed: 50,000kph
- Emergency Reactor Restart: In case the fusion reactor stops for some reason and needs to be restarted away from a STOSS support facility (such as in orbit), 8 of the 16 available backup atomic cells can be consumed to initiate fusion. PIL:HARD check for success per try, + 5 bonus per additional cell committed. All cells are discharged in each attempt, whether successful or not.
- Crew Module Jettison: In case of a disastrous system failure, the entire 12-person crew module can eject from the main fuselage. A rocket motor drives the Crew Module forward and away guided by rails along the bottom half of the forward fuselage. The Crew Module is capable of re-entry from orbit as long as velocity is not over 8000kph. A 10-meter telescoping rod with expanding fins extends behind the crew module to keep it oriented forward during descent. Three huge parachutes open from the rear of the crew module when below 5000m altitude. The crew module will float in water.
Note: In case the direct-drive thruster is rendered inoperative somehow, yet the fusion plan is still functioning, anti-gravity by itself is not enough to get the shuttle back down from orbit, only enough to brake down to 6000kph or so, at which time a Crew Module Jettison is necessary, since the STOSS itself would break up…wheeeee!
The STOSS cargo shuttles initially delivered material and personnel to earth orbit in the early years of Daedalus construction, until the Bifrost Space Elevator project was completed and began delivering cargo directly to earth orbit. After the elevator and Asgard Station became operational, many shuttles remained in orbit permanently. When the Daedalus was moved to moon orbit (2490), the STOSS shuttles served to trans-ship material and personnel from Asgard Station to moon orbit. A refueling stop at Asgard station is required after a ground launch, as the shuttles do not carry enough on-board fuel to reach moon orbit directly from earth’s surface.
There were five STOSS launch facilities worldwide at the end of the 25th century. The closest STOSS launch facility to Utah is located south of Albuquerque New Mexico, just over 800km from the ruins of Salt Lake City. STOSS-27, the “Sante-Fe”, was discovered in 2755 by a team of adventurers from Central Utah. With the help of a local tribe supported by ample stores of tools, food and water recovered from the spaceport ruins, the intact shuttle was excavated from beneath 8 meters of desert sand.
Other shuttles discovered: STOSS-34 “BERLIN” (inoperative); STOSS-37 “TEL-AVIV”