FSpaceRPG article

Status: Official

In the modern FSpace era, gravitic thrusters provide an easy and safe way to land on icy worlds, where the spacecraft has the appropriate thermally insulted landing gear to not heat up ice and sink.

However, Terrans like many races first used thrust based systems, like rockets, plasma and even fusion engines as their primary propulsion. The high temperature exhausts from such systems can cause immediate ice melting, flash vaporisation and even ignition or volatile gasses that are frozen. Such events can lead to immediate disaster, along with unsafe - sometimes liquid landing zones.

Various techniques have been developed to cope with the issue - many of which can still be seen in use in known space. Typically most solutions involve a specialised landing craft with lower temperature and vectored thrusting systems. Pointing the thrust away from the immediate landing spot leaves the landing zone less likely to melt, and melting and vaporisation occurring away from the immediate landing spot - often meaning crew have to wait for surface to solidify again - or traverse slushy ruts cased by the thrusters.

Some landers use disposable flotation cushions along with thrusters to cope with slushy landing zones.

Others use Sky crane - namely a seperate craft with thrusters to lower or hoist landing capsule payloads while staying high enough above the ground with vectored thrust to avoid most melting issues. For Terrans this technology was originally pioneered on Mars in the early 21st century to land heavy rovers, rather than avoid surface melting.

On icy worlds with appreciable atmospheres, aerobraking, parachute, thruster jet engines and even helicopter style assistive propulsion are all ways to ease the landing.

Some races don’t worry about soft landings and design one way impactors designed to lodge in ice fields after shedding enough velocity at altitude with engines. Typically these tend to be military drop pods, probes and other one way needs.

Throughout the Sol system, Terrans retain a continual presence on most of their icy worlds, requiring a way to routinely land. They often construct large concrete and/metal landing fields which have linked thermal transfer systems to channel absorbed heat into recovery systems for power, keeping communications and navigation arrays above freezing (often with fluid or gars transfers), or use simple radiators into vacuum if an airless world. While thermal leakage does happen into the surrounding ice, the landing field platforms are designed with stability and floats like structures in mind to spread any mass and thermal load across a wide enough area.

Such landing field still can’t accommodate high temperature engines like Terran’s fusion based HEFT in normal mode - often why pilots use these engines in low temperature rocket mode where a lot of fuel is expended as reaction base with minimal heating - one of the ways this engine differs to more primitive fusion torches.

In general ground ports and landing fields on Terran icy worlds don’t accept landings from craft that aren’t gravitic or have proper certifications for landing in their conditions. Ships can be impounded, pilots and owners fined, if not outright jailed for violations to such conditions.

As an example all private landings on Titan are banned, punishable by a 20 year jail term - given the search for alien life still is underway on this world and reaction engines cause massive environment devastation given the liquid methane on the surface and as rain in the air and other frozen volatiles. Unlike other ice worlds, this is a world with a thicker atmosphere than Earth, plenty of organic chemistry present and the hints that the world harbours exotic forms of extraterrestrial biology.

Most landing sub craft in Terran space are either atmospheric forms - typically lifting body designs, or vertical landers. Carrier and sub craft are specially designed for the worlds they tend to service when using reaction engines.

In the Sol system, most major worlds and moons host natively stationed orbit to ground transfer landers, meaning most insystem ships don’t have to carry dedicated landers and allow such ships to service multiple worlds without worrying around landers, except for crew escape pods.

Categories: Starships

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