FSpaceRPG article

Status: Official

Orbital Transfer Vehicles (OTV) are spacecraft used to maneuver between orbits, usually around the Earth. However, interplanetary vehicles that move from Earth orbit to another planet have been called Orbital Transfer Vehicles. The designation implies that the vehicle was constructed or launched in space, although initial models were constructed on the ground. OTVs do not touch down on planets. By the late 21st century the term would be reserved for those spacecraft serving orbits around a planet or it’s moons. Interplanetary spacecraft would be referred to using other terms.

An Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV) is a spacecraft designed to move freight, fuel or personnel between orbits, whether low, medium or high earth orbits. As a pure spacecraft it never lands on a planetary surface.

Initial design involved the import of fuel from planetary bodies, but in later years sources would be found in more efficient ways. In space the power of the engines required to maneuver are significantly less than that of engines required for take off and landing from planetary bodies such as Earth. Fuel costs are significantly less, and the design of such craft don;t need to be as robust as those requiring high acceleration launch and atmospheric stress. Such vessels are typically very cheap as a result.

While initial designs used chemical rockets, OTVs utilised ion drives and later low thrust plasma drives, which use 3 to 10 times less fuel than even the best chemical rocket but are thousands of times slower. Slower drives were favoured for cargo transfers, while chemical and later HEPT thrust systems were favoured for the transfer of personnel and time critical cargos.

The development of an OTV infrastructure allowed Earth launch vehicles to delivery larger payloads to lower orbits and left the job of transferring these payloads to higher orbits, lunar transfer orbits and the like to the more efficient network of OTVs.

In the mid 21st century when Earth was attacked by the Mechs, OTVs formed a critical part of the deployment system of vast arrays of munitions into high orbits from the Earth’s surface.

The designs of OTVs used extensively around Earth and the Moon has changed little since the 21st century and most have their origins in design formulated in the late 20th century. Most are a compact set of linked cylinders and follow design ideas put together in Europe or the USA.

A small minority of designs following the Russian design philosophy from the 20th century is still in service by Russian, Chinese and other far eastern states. Most of these are still being used because they are mass produced at budget levels under licence by handfull or Thai and Filipino and aerospace firms.

Categories: Starships

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