Category Archives: Royal Space Navy
In 1892, a fireball lit up the skies above Scotland as an object plunged through the atmosphere. Crashing in a remote part of the highlands, a team scientists was dispatched from Edinburgh University to investigate the scene. Reports came back from the field indicating that the object was not a meteorite as previously suspected but seemed to be some sort of vehicle. When news reached its way to government officials in Edinburgh, investigators were sent to confirm the extraterrestrial origin of the “space vehicle”. After receiving confirmation, the government moved swiftly to classify the discovery. The wreckage was relocated to a secure facility where it can be studied safely in secret under the auspices of Project Prometheus.
For the next few decades, progress is slow. The scientific principals on which the alien technology was significantly more advanced than human science. As the Second World War broke out, Project Prometheus began to finally make progress. New advances in materials science, theoretical physics and electronics seemed to unlock a series of foundational principals that were key to understanding the alien technology.
The end of the war heralded a change of priorities for the British government. Massive rebuilding was necessary, the economy was nearly flat-lined and the Empire was exhausted and restless. The country could ill-afford the wild flights of fantasy promised by the scientists and the Project was the verge of being shut down.
Its saviour came in the form of Sir Barnes Neville Wallace (of Dambusters fame). An engineer that dreamed of manned space exploration but knew that Prometheus had to achieve more practical goal first to convince the government that the expense was justified. He instructed the scientific staff to work on projects useful to the government. From this directive was born the scientific ground work that lead to the development of the first nuclear reactor, advanced jet propulsion, improvements to radar and eventually the Britain’s first atomic bomb. Finally convinced of the projects importance to the nation’s future, central government restored full funding to the project and allowed the Prometheus Team to research more theoretical technologies.
By the 1970’s American astronauts were playing golf on the moon, disco was sweeping the world and in secret locations around Britain, top scientists were constructing the first prototype ion drives, developing the theoretical principals behind gravitic science and getting ready to build the world’s first fusion reactor.
The 1980’s saw the Project increase in size and scope. Mi6 had provided details on the American SDI systems which when married to the new stealth technologies gave Prometheus its chance to launch its first spacecraft. The Mk1 Space Transport was little more than a cargo bay with a cockpit and engines. Clad in the latest stealth technology, it completed three orbits before returning to base undetected. Its successful launch proved that the project could deliver on its promises. The government in response set about completely reorganising its operational methods and means of funding.
In order to oversee all operations, a new branch of the military was created. The Ministry of Defence had been trying to assume control of the project since the late 1960’s but infighting between the three services had always hampered their efforts. This new branch, termed the Royals Space Navy, would be formed by combining elements of all three existing services but would functionally remain an independent structure. Project Prometheus would be absorbed into the command structure of this new force as its scientific research and development arm. Despite being a military organisation, the RSN would retain the projects focus on scientific investigation and exploration. This reorganisation and expansion would later be partly funded by a front company created by the government (see sidebar).
During the 1990’s the new force concentrated on unmanned exploration of the solar system using an ever sophisticated series of semi-autonomous probes. During this period, all speed records were broken as flight times to other planets began to measured in months, then weeks and finally days as scientists perfected the Ion Drive. A new communication system was also introduced that used modulated beams of tachyons. Travelling at speeds far greater than light, modulated tachyons provided near instantaneous communication anywhere in the solar system with the added advantage that there were impossible to detect or intercept.
September 13th, 1999 saw the greatest discovery in the projects history. Using computer records recovered from the 1892 crash wreckage using the latests data restoration techniques, a unmanned probe was sent to the edge of the system to investigate a theory. Engineers had concluded decades earlier that the crashed vessel did not possess any means of meeting, breaking or bypassing the light speed barrier. Further more it did not have the life-support capabilities to undertake an interstellar journey at slower than light velocities. It had always been assumed that it had been carried to our system by a mothership of some sort. However that theory had raised the question of why no attempt had been made by such a mothership to recover the wreckage or rescue the crew. When the navigational data from the wreckage was finally recovered in 1998, it showed that the crashed ship had flown under its own power from the a position 300 million kilometres above the suns north pole. Specifically from an area that earlier scan had revealed magnetic and gravitic anomalies.
When the probe arrived, it found a structure floating freely in space. A manned mission was immediately sent and they confirmed that it was of alien origin and impossibly old. Scientific dating placed at nearly two billion years old. It had lain hidden in the depths of space since before the existence of life on Earth. Extensive research into the object and the computer data recovered from the 1892 wreckage indicated that it was capable of generating an artificial wormhole connecting two distant points in space and allowing instantaneous travel between them. In the spring of 2000, the RSN sent a ship through. When it returned its crew reported that the other end of the wormhole was some 6’000 light years away.
Within a year another “Jump Gate” had been discovered in orbit around Saturn and a third located between Pluto and its moon Charon. RSN ships have visited the systems on the far side of the Saturn and Solar Gates. They have even set up manned bases on planets in these systems. However, the Pluto Jump Gate has always been beyond the range of RSN ships. Even with refuelling and automated “gas stations” set up at the Gates and at Europa and Dione, the distance to Pluto has been too great.
It is now 2007 and the RSN is about to make its next giant leap. A new generation of propulsion and power generation technologies have made reaching the outer limits of the solar system possible. The first in a new class of deep space exploration vessels, the HMS Drake is ready for launch. Its first mission; explore the system on the far side of the Pluto Gate.
Structure & Organisation
The RSN is organised into five “branches”. Administration, Aerospace Operations, Surface Operations, Prometheus and SRT Operations.
Boring, but necessary, the Administration branch of the RSN oversees the logistics of distribution, procurement, recruitment and other bean counting activities. Internal law enforcement is also the province of the Administration branch.
Divisions: Internal Security, Manufacturing & Procurement, Personnel, Supplies
When most people think of the RSN, they think of the Aerospace Operations branch. Aerospace is responsible for all space transportation and related operations.
Divisions: Deep Space Operations, Engineering, Freefall Infantry, Transatmospheric Operations
While not the most glamorous job, someone has to maintain and operate the bases, be its muscle in any potential military conflict and provide security for the RSN. This branch is responsible for all planet-side military operations.
Divisions: Armoured Infantry, Light Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Medical, Military Engineers, Rapid Response
Comprised of the original government research project which gave birth to the RSN, Prometheus is today responsible for all the scientific work done by the organisations and the majority of civilians in the RSN can by found in this branch.
Divisions: Research & Design, Stellar Cartography, Xeno-Sciences
Scientific, Reconnaissance & Tactical Operations. This branch is relatively small and is the closest the RSN has to a Special Forces unit. Its job is to be the first response unit on all potential first contact situations. They have the prestigious job of being the first to be sent to explore unexplored planets, the first to board alien vessels and the first to meet sentient aliens themselves. As such SRT Ops members are drawn from the four other branches in order to create a flexible unit capable of dealing with the widest possible range of situations.
Warrant Officer (WO)
Flight Sergeant (FS)
Lance Corporal (LCpl)
Crewman Class 1 (Cm1)
Crewman Class 2 (Cm2)
Flight Lieutenant (FL)
Advanced Technological Solutions
Founded in 1989 just outside of Bristol, the company performs two vital functions for the RSN. Firstly the company would recruit the best scientists and engineers in the UK under the guise of a commercial corporation. While employed they would be vetted by the security services. If they pass the stringent background checks they were then eligible for transfer to Prometheus. Secondly, ATS provided a valuable source of funds for the RSN. Technology gained from from reverse engineering projects by Prometheus Team was passed to ATS so that the “newly developed” technology could be marketed.
ATS keeps a very low key presence and you would find trying to spot an ATS logo on a product almost impossible. Very few devices that ATS “develops” are sold on the consumer market. Most of its products are licensed to third party companies. For example, early next year Nokia is planning on releasing a smart phone with the computing power of a desktop PC with a battery that has 7 days of talk time. This was developed using mobile computing technology licensed from ATS.
Sometimes ATS will sell finished products directly to the intended customer. The MSFWAD (Modular Science Field Work Analysis Device) is a cut down version of the PAD and is based on a much earlier prototype. The MSFWAD is being marketed directly to universities and scientific research institutes.
Weapons & Equipment
Clothing & Armour
Advanced Combat Armour
AC Armour comprises layered polymeric plates and is laminated with a CF coating. The armour is similar to the armour vest in that it is made up of a series of interlocking and free plates that are strapped over the user’s body. These plates cover more than just the torso though, they also cover the arms and legs, and further more offer an optional vacuum helmet too. Because of their cost and bulk, they are usually only issued to Ground Operations troops and SRT Ops members who are expecting front line combat.
Armour Vests use interlocking kevlar plates designed to be strapped on over the wearer’s torso. It is light weight and thin and can be worn over the standard Flight Utility Jumpsuit. They are the standard armour of SRT Ops on low threat missions.
Flight Utility Jumpsuit
These slate-grey outfits are the standard shipboard uniform of the RSN. Loose-fitting and resembling a RAF flight suit, the jumpsuit is more than just a comfortable piece of fabric, it is an important tool and contains many pieces of technology.
The suit is manufactured from a lightweight cloth woven from a mixture of synthetic fibres. The strong cross-hatch weave provides excellent resistance against projectile penetration while a duomar coating aids in energy dispersion and absorption. Although no substitute for actual armour, this composite construction certainly helps protect the wearer.
The suits advanced electronics constantly transmits telemetry to the ship’s medical and command officers that detail the wearer’s blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate and location so long as they are aboard the ship. When an individual is “on mission” (usually an SRT Ops individual) the suit can connect to a standard headset communicator to transmit this information back to ship or to teams CO and Medic. However this function can be deactivated for reasons of operational security.
Utility Jumpsuits can, at the push of a button, be environmentally sealed allowing it to be used as an emergency hostile environment suit. This of course requires a helmet and gloves. These can be found in strategic locations around the ship usually in public areas and private quarters. The helmet as an integral 20 minute air supply which can be recharged by replacing the helmet in its charging slot. It should be noted that the suit should only be used in such a way in an extreme emergency. The jumpsuit has limited protection against radiation, extreme temperatures and corrosive atmospheres.
Type Armour Weight Notes
Advanced Combat Armour +5 17 Covers torso, legs and arms. Environmentally sealed, negates 4AP
Armour Vest +2/+4 8 Torso only, negates 4AP
Flight Utility Jumpsuit +2 6 Covers torso, legs and arms, Environmentally sealed
Some drugs (indicted by *) can cause addiction if abused. An addiction roll is a Vigour roll.
Anaesthetic removes dulls the sensation of pain and allows the character ignore up to points of wound penalties. The anaesthetic lasts for 1 hour.
Designed as a preventative drug, a dose of Anti-Rad provides a +2 bonus to Vigour rolls to resist the effects of radiation for up to 2d6 hours. Every time the drug is administered, the patient must make a Vigour roll with a +1 bonus or he is Shaken due to suffering nausea. A person can only benefit from one dose at a time and Anti-Rad provides no benefit if injected after exposure to radiation.
Boost increases Strength by 1 die step for points for 1d4 hours.
Hype duplicates the effect of the Combat Reflexes edge for 2 hours.
Rage duplicates the Combat Reflexes and Berserk edges for 1 hour.
A revolutionary new drug that actually speeds up the bodies own natural healing process. Once administered, the patient must make a Vigour roll. A success means one wound is healed with two wounds healed on a Raise. This roll is subject to the patients wound penalties as all trait rolls. It does not cure poison, remove disease, reattach severed limbs, regrows organs, or bring the dead back to life.
If administered more than once in a 24 hour period, the patient must make a second Vigour roll with a -1 penalty per SpeedHeal used in the previous 24 hours. Failure means that the drug has the opposite effect. Wound penalties do not apply to this second roll.
E-Paper is a combination touch sensitive computer screen and portable computer system. It is as thin as a credit card, flexible as a stiff piece of plastic and, when not in use, totally transparent.
First Aid Kit
The standard RSN First Aid Kit, is a small fold away carry case, which contains up to eight variable vials of drugs and medications which can be of use to anyone in the field, along with a small hypo spray that the drug vials clip into. The case is tough and durable and is durable enough to take most forms of normal wear and tear without posing any risk at all to the drugs contained within. They are usually located at strategic points throughout RSN ships along with other emergency supplies. They are also carried by SRT Ops units on offworld missions, usually by the designated medic. Of course the kinds of drugs contained within the kit tend to vary with availability and nature of the mission the medic is on, typically however the trauma kit holds 6 vials of SpeedHeal and 2 vials of Anaesthetic. See the section on Drugs.
The PAD (Personal Analysis Device) is a small hand held device designed to aid SRT Ops teams in field analysis work. The actual sensory apparatus is located in a hot-swappable module at the top of the device. This provides a PAD with a wide sensory capability without making the device too bulky or compromising is battery life.
The SRT-Ops Communicator is a simple headset which fits over the wearers head with the earpiece sitting over the wearers ear and the microphone resting just in front of the mouth. The headset is flexible and is constructed from durable metal and hard plastics which make it tough enough for rigorous use in field missions. The SRT-Ops communicator has a 200km transmission although this range can be boosted by relaying the signal through orbiting satellites and ships. The integral encryption system encodes transmissions for secure communications.
The DETLAS (Directed Energy Tactical Laser Assault System) is the first practical beam weapon for troop-to-troop engagements on the battlefield. Essentially a miniature of proposed anti-ballistic missile lasers and the laser based Point Defence systems, the DETLAS is capable of piercing tank armour and slicing through flesh and bone causing devastating wounds and damage.
The DETLAS is a chemical laser, using a pulse of electrical current to excite pellets of deuterium fluoride, focusing the intense photon energy given off through a series of mirrors and zinc-sulphide lenses. The beam is invisible in daylight, but in darkness (or dim light), or smoke, the beam appears to be a thin line of coherent blue-green light.
The beam is powerful enough to burn a hole through kevlar, titanium and other materials in a matter of seconds creating a hole only one millimetre in diameter. What makes the energy beam so lethal however is that the light’s wavelength has been modulated to that of water. Upon striking flesh, the directed energy beam causes water molecules to excite, boil away and evaporate nearly instantly. This has the effect of causing a searing hot explosion to erupt inside the body, damaging tissue and organs.
The DETLAS uses a great deal of power. Nevertheless, when linked to a super-conductive fuel cell, the laser becomes a viable weapons system,
The super-conductive hip pack contains enough energy to deal 20 dice of damage. This may be fired in any amount desired up to a maximum of 10d (one shot of 3d, then one shout of 5d, and so on) Hooked to a backpack it has 40d at its disposal.
The F2000 was first introduced in 2001 as a versatile yet compact assault rifle. Although it boasts the power of a full-length rifle, much of its frame is built out of polymers, making it considerably lighter than its competitors. The F2000 is built in bullpup configuration. It features a P90-style ambidextrous fire selector and forward ejection of spent shells, and is therefore easily operated by left or right handed shooters. The weapon is currently being assessed by Belgian special forces as a new combat rifle.
The F2000 is a modular system. The base package comes with a plastic hand guard and 1.6x optical sights. However, it can also equip a variety of flash lights, laser sights, optical sights and secondary weapons, all of which can be mounted and removed without the use of tools: Computerized fire-control system for 40 mm / 20 mm air burst grenade launcher, Any sights compatible with the Picatinny rail MIL-STD-1913 standard, Integrated laser pointer / tactical light, 12 gauge shotgun, M303 less-lethal launcher, Suppressor
The electronic fire control system compensates for a grenade’s parabolic trajectory by calculating the grenade launcher’s correct elevation for any given target. It is both faster to use and more accurate than traditional grenade launcher sights.
FN Five-seveN (space modified)
The FN Five-seveN (written Five-seveN to accent Fabrique Nationale’s initials) is designed ergonomically and has a polymer frame – it is therefore light and easy to handle. The 5.7 x 28 mm rounds unique design also results in extremely low recoil for the gun (according to FN, 60% less recoil).
The Five-seveN’s use of the 5.7 x 28 mm SS190 cartridge enables it to penetrate class IIIA body armour at up to 50m. Independent testing has shown that the SS190 round can blow through a combination of Kevlar armour and heavy clothing (sweater, denim jacket) and still penetrate 7″ into ballistic gelatin. This makes the Five-seveN unique among handguns.
Despite its power, the Five-seveN is reasonably compact and quite light. Made largely of polymers and composites, it features an internal safety with no external hammer, safety or decocking lever. It is recoil operated and double action. A rail beneath the barrel makes fitting a laser sight or torch easy.
FN P90 Personal Defence Weapon
During the late 1980s FN found that existing pistols and SMGs were becoming increasingly ineffective at disabling troops equipped with body armour. Contemporary assault rifles were capable of fulfilling this task, but they were generally too heavy and bulky to serve as an effective personal defence weapon in tight quarters. To satisfy this demand for a small but effective PDW, FN designed the Project 90 SMG and a new armour-piercing pistol round (5.7 x 28 mm). The weapon can be considered an SMG because its companion sidearm, the Five-seveN pistol, takes the same calibre rounds.
The P90 is designed to accommodate both left and right handed shooters—it features an ambidextrous fire selector and charging handle, and downward ejection of spent shells. It is built in a unique bullpup configuration that places the 50-round transparent magazine above the weapon, parallel to the barrel. A circular ramp at the bottom of each magazine re-aligns each round to the barrel. This design makes the weapon extremely compact and manoeuvrable and the transparent magazine makes it easy to quickly check the number of rounds left. The P90 is constructed largely out of polymers, and is therefore unusually light. An optical sight (no magnification) is fitted, but if it becomes damaged it can be removed revealing back-up iron sights.
Thanks to the 5.7 mm rounds excellent penetration abilities, the P90 can defeat most forms of personal body armour at a range of up to 200 meters. This performance rivals that of modern assault rifles, and is unsurpassed by any existing SMG, except perhaps H&K’s new MP7. The P90 also has very low recoil allowing for accurate burst fire—several shots can be rapidly placed on target, greatly increasing the wounding effect. The SS190 ball FMJ cartridge has been labelled by the media as “armour piercing”, but in reality, almost any rifle calibre cartridge will cut through Level IIIA armour assuming it does not have ceramic plates. The 5.7×28 can be compared to a cut down 5.56×45/.223 Remington cartridge. The SS190 will pass through Level II armour as well as the Kevlar PASGT helmets. True armour piercing bullets will have a tungsten carbide core or similar hard metal core designed to penetrate ceramic and titanium plates as well as vehicle armour.
DETLAS 30/60/120 1-4D6 3 8 48 d6 Auto, 3RB
(Hot-shot) 50/100/200 1-3D6 1 – – d6 Heavy, uses 2 shots per damage die
FN P90 12/24/48 2d8 3 10 50 – AP1, Auto
FN Five-seveN 12/24/48 2d8 1 3 20 – AP1, Semi Auto
FN 2000 24/48/96 2d8 3 10 30 d6 AP2, Auto
RSN Space Deployment
Condor Tactical Troop-Deployment Platform (RSN-CDXX)
The Condor was designed when RSN tacticians decided that need existed for a small vehicle to move personnel to and from ships in orbit or in close proximity. Although such operations could in theory be accomplished by a modified Space Transport, it was decided to construct a small vessel specifically for the role. Consequently, the Condor was born.
Officially designated is a troop dropship and tactical transport, the Condor intended to be used by the RSN in a variety of roles. Entering into service at the end of 2003, the Condor is a multi-role, light transatmospheric shuttle. The interior has seats for 16 persons while the pilot operates the craft from an elevated couch in the back-left corner of the shuttle. The primary entrance for the craft is in the rear but there are three other hatches (bow, top, and bottom) to allow for docking at any orientation. However, the compact design means that none of these hatches are considered airlocks. This requires the pilot and passengers to wear environment gear when opening these hatches in a hostile environment. During normal operations, everyone will use breathing masks built into the seats to extend the capacity of the life-support systems.
To save space on the already cramped ship, the Condor is not equipped with ion drives making it unique in the RSN. Instead, the craft relies on its Gravimetric Drive for propulsion and manoeuvring. Along with limited life support, the means the Condor is restricted to ship-to-ship and space-to ground operations. Power is provided by a series of fuel cells stored beneath the floor of the passenger compartment.
Defensive capabilities come in form of a single forward-firing laser mounted on top of the vessel. The Condor also has a layer of polymeric armour and a low-powered deflection
Space Transport (aka “Space Bus”) RSN-STXX
The Space Transport series began with the Mk I that was first launched in 1984 becoming the first manned vessel launched by the RSN. Since then the series has been used as a test bed for new technologies and as a general work horse for the programme. Key to the initial design was its modular construction which allowed for quick replacement of ship systems. As propulsion, power generation, avionics and related technologies improved. A Space Transport could be quickly and easily upgraded.
All models share a similar hull configuration. The main fuselage is 140ft long and contains a single large payload bay. This bay can be configured to carry either 50 passengers or 500 tons of cargo. Access to the payload bay is through large doors in the sides of the fuselage. Engines are mounted on the exterior of the fuselage in four pods. Each pod contains a small Ion Drive and each pod can be rotated through 180 degrees to provide thrust along the Y axis of the ship. For fine manoeuvring control, a small Gravimetric Drive is installed in the base of the fuselage.
Main power is provided by the same micro-fusion reactor that powers the Raptor. However due to the increased mass of the Space Transport, fuel consumption is much higher requiring larger fuel tanks..
A small two man cockpit is located forward of the main fuselage and contains all the controls and avionics.
Raptor Transatmospheric Fighter (RSN-RTFXX)
The Raptor didn’t start with an idea, it started with an objective. Simply put, the craft would combine the best abilities of the Joint Strike Fighter, and F22 Interceptor. It would be fully transatmospheric and be able to operate equally in both environments. It would have long range but be compact enough to carried aboard the new DSE class. It needed to be fast and manoeuvrable but still able to go toe-to-toe against hostile targets … easier said than done.
Little more than a cockpit with powerful engines and guns attached, the Raptor is fast and agile, if not particularly durable or easy to maintain.
The Raptor is also designed for bottom-opening hangars and so has a coupling mechanism (the round device behind the cockpit) that attaches to a ceiling-mounted boom. When the fighter docks this boom connects to the coupler, allowing the craft to hang suspended while the bay doors are open.
The Raptor also has standard landing gear and this is employed in the hangar as well – lessening the strain on the suspension boom when the bay doors are closed and gravity is at Earth-normal. A set of the most advanced ion engines ever constructed are located inside the Raptor’s wings. They are powered by a single micro-fusion reactor built into the fuselage. Each engine produces an amazing amount of thrust for a craft of its size and weight. Along with a limited degree of vectored thrust exhaust, the Raptor also has a Gravimetric Drive for extreme manoeuvrability and VTOL capability.
The craft’s direct-fire armament rests either side of the nose. They come in the form of a pair of linked accelerated particle blasters. The advanced targeting system compensates a great deal for range and predicted target movement. Two micro missile pods are located under the wings provide the Raptor with a formidable anti-ship capability. Each pod contains 4 guided missiles that lock on using a combination of thermal, radar and visual targeting.
Incidentally, the Raptor is the only RSN ship designed solely with military purposes in line.
HMS Drake Deep Space Explorer (RSN-DSE001)
The HMS Drake is the first in a new class of RSN ships. The Deep Space Explorer. With the new advances in reactor design and propulsion technologies it was finally possible to build a ship capable of reaching the outer limits of the solar system. With an unexplored Jump Gate lying just tantalisingly out of reach of the present generation of Space Transports, a decision was made to construct a new class of vessels to take advantage of these advances.
The four decked, 300ft long ship masses 5’150 tons and is the largest ship yet constructed by the RSN. Its hull is constructed using a revolutionary new method consisting of bonded alloy and composite beams. These materials provide enough strength for massive acceleration while remaining flexible enough to withstand atmospheric interface. The vessels armoured hull consists laminated insulators, micrometeorite shielding, composite material and aerogel. The hull is also covered with radar absorbent material and the engine vents are provided with infra-red suppression/dispersion to mask the IR signature of the ships Ion Engines. The hull coating is also LIDAR absorbent to reduce detection by laser. Finally the ship has a dark charcoal colour scheme to reduce visual detection.
All propulsion units are located in aft section of the ship with the fusion reactors. Primary in-system propulsion is provided by four Ion-Induction Drives. At maximum power, each drive provides a thrust of more than 35’100 metric tons. However, energy use at this level is astronomical, allowing maximum thrust for short periods. Average cruising speed is therefore 2AU per hour (approx 300 million kph). For combat manoeuvring, a Gravimetric Drive is employed which can provide an acceleration in any axis desired. The system is also used for docking manoeuvres and for VTOL capability on planetary surfaces.
Two linked fusion reactors with a combined generating output of 3.6 terawatts form the core of the Drake’s power grid. The DSE class uses a lithium-hydride or “dry” reactor design. The basic fuel for the reactors is the crystalline powder form of lithium-hydride. The specific gravity of the fuel is 0.82 metric tons per cubic meter, making it extremely space efficient. It also avoids the problems of cryogenic storage associated with other reactors fuelled by heavy hydrogen isotopes such as deuterium and He3. The LiH reactor accepts the powder in a very fine form, allowing it to be shipped and pumped as it it were a liquid, and administered into the reactor as a blown dust. The powder must be stored in double lined containers to prevent contact with water, otherwise it would dissociate and react violently. Under normal conditions a single reactor can power all ship systems. A second reactor is installed to provide a backup in case of malfunction. Also, during combat operations power usage can increase by as much as 80%. In order to reduce the workload, the power load is shared between both reactors.
The hangars were designed to hold a squadron of light fighters that could be used both in space and atmosphere.
Located on either side of the Main Deck are a the hanger bays. Each bay can hold either 3 Raptors are a single Condor. It takes several hours work to reconfigure a hanger bay for either Raptor or Condor operation. Currently, the HMS Drake is configured to launch Raptors from the port bay and a Condor from the starboard bay. Launch operations are performed the same way for either craft despite their differing hull dimensions. There are identical gantries in the ceiling over each set of bay doors. When a craft comes in for docking, they are guided up to these gantry which attach to a coupling mechanism on the dorsal surface of the fighter. The small craft can then hang suspended while the bay doors in the floor are closed. Internal gravity in the berth is usually kept off until the bay doors are sealed and the craft is resting on its landing gear. While docked, the gantry remains attached as it also contains refuelling hoses, power feeds, and computer interface cables. The procedure is reversed for launching – once the crew is aboard the craft is lifted slightly, the bay doors open, and the ship is dropped out into space. As both the Raptor and the Condor are capable of VTOL flight using their Gravimetric Drives, they can launch and dock even when Drake is grounded (though there is much less room for error).
The main hold can carry up to 900 tons in cargo and supplies. Enough to remain in space for up to a full year.
For armaments, Drake posses two twin fire-linked plasma cannons – one fore and one aft. The system is a 10 megawatt phased plasma assembly firing vaporised cadmium telluride pellets from a 3000 round feed. Muzzle velocities exceed 12 km per second, with a practical range of 1000 km. These are designed to provide cover fire during landing operations and are not well positioned for space combat. The design originally had a pair of spinal-mounted maser cannons to fill that role, but these were removed because problems were discovered integrating the powerful weapons with the ships power grid.
Too reduce crew workload, and increase efficiency and safety, operation of the ship is partially automated. The ship is equipped with a 28 terabyte, DNA based core mainframe. A second generation A.I. Is also present which can present itself in both holographic android remote form. In effect, the ship can pilot itself and fight a space battle even if the crew are all dead or incapacitated. However, at any time, combat or operational decisions made by the ship can be overridden by the crew. Backup is provided by an 8 terabyte mainframe and local terminals dispersed throughout the ship.
Most damage control is automated by the computer system. If a reactor suffers severe damage, the affected reactors can be jettisoned before an explosion occurs. If the vehicle is damaged to the point it becomes untenable, emergency evacuation is prompted by the Ranking Officer or automated systems. The Drake carries 6 emergency escape vehicles. Each EEV is capable of evacuation 4 people of a total evacuation of 24. Since the maximum crew complement of a the class is 18 this is sufficient for a complete evacuation. If for some reason this capacity is not enough, an extra 20 can be evacuated by using the ships fighter complement and shuttle (if available). The ship may also be scuttled by the Captain and First Officer. Self-destruct protocols are initiated manually, causing the reactors to go supercritical fifteen minutes after initiation.
Like research vessels in the Royal Navy, the Drake has been designed with a secondary combat role in mind. The cavernous main hold could carry several ground craft and troops with the large doors at either end facilitating rapid loading and deployment. The provides the RSN with a capable landing craft if they ever need to conduct a large scale planetary assault. However, if the HMS Drake (or other DSE class ships) were to perform this role, its offensive ad defensive capabilities would first need to be upgraded.