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Explorer class vessels are based on the Standard Interplanetary Operations Spacecraft (SIOS) template cojointly devleped by NASA and ESA in the 2030s. The design has it’s origins from concepots developed in the 1980s.

The first SIOS developed on the template was the ISS Luna Express, built by NASA and ESA in 2038. Used principally for passenger transport it was equiped with a spin habitate ring to help adjust passengers between Earth and Luna gravity. The Luna Express was never considered an Explorer class even though it shares a similar design, because it was never outfitted for planetary exploration purposes.

Explorer class ships were based on the SIOS template but fitted out for planetary explorer, long duration missions and smaller crew complements. And unlike the Luna Express all the Explorers class ships were built by an American, Japanese and Russian consortium.

The first official Explorer class was the ISS Martian Explorer, which served from 2041 until it?s destruction in 2050 by the Mech Class II Scout. ISS Martian Explorer?s habitate module was left in Mars orbit and remained abandoned until 2057 when it was turned into a memorial. It was later reconditioned with a docking adapter in 2078 for various shuttles and now serves as an orbital musuem of Earth?s exploration of the red planet.

Three other vessels of this class were built, the Venusian Explorer, the Mercurian Explorer and the Ceres, which didn?t bear the name Explorer because of a name dispute. The Ceres was used to survey a number of asteroids both in the asteroid belt and near earth ones.

With the advent of ORION propulsion systems and other more advanced plasma drives the Explorer class were replaced with more advanced SIOS II vessels which used for the exploration of the outer solar system alongside the military based ORIONs from the mid 2050s onwards.

The remaining Explorer ships continued to see service as transports well into the later 21st century, but for non-critical cargo but for materials requiring storage in a pressurised environment or that needed ongong crew care.

All the remaining ships have survived to the present day, proving the robustness of their construction as well as their viability in a marginal commercial capacity. They have seen some system upgrades over the years, but largely their original systems remain, although all parts have typical been replaced or repeatedly serviced

The Venusian remains in Venus orbit, largely as a metrological research station. The Mercurian after sitting in Earth orbit for many decades as a training station has been put back into active service in the Vega system exploring the protoplanetary disk there.

And the Ceres was purchased by an independant mining operation based out of Mars and conducts prospecting operations throughout the system of both asteroids, comet nucleii, oort cloud and kuiper belt objects. At present it is known to be almost at the fringes of the system at the edge of the Kuiper belt.

As for the older Luna Express, it can now be found near L1 colony and is presently owned by the Smithsonian as part of their space exploration collection.

Categories: Starships

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