Friday, October 27, 2017

The Smallest Spacecraft on Luna

Spacers know the very nature of their job requires exposure to hostile if not deadly environments. Exposure can be planned or unplanned. Unplanned exposure can be very bad indeed: a hull breach, gas leak, fire and other emergency situations requiring damage control. Planned exposure includes mining, repairs in space and exploration.

Damage control teams use combination filter and compressor masks. The Damcon version of these masks includes a five minute air tank and a socket for an air hose. These are usually left off the masks used for exploration. The mask is actually a hood or straps onto the wearer's helmet providing full face coverage. Individual preferences are accommodated because you want your damcon people happy with their gear.

Popular media makes people think damage control and combat involves people donning space suits en mass. That is seldom done. A compartment struck by weapons fire or a micrometeor either has a leak or a breach. A breach means the compartment looses its air in under a minute. Anything causing a breach is unlikely to leave anyone alive in that compartment and damage control will seal it damned fast and then begin repairs after the emergency is under control (that WILL probably involve spacesuits on the outside of the hull.)

In case of a leak or fire the masks will keep a body breathing long enough to either control the situation or get to safety. Spacesuits are fatiguing to wear, will degrade performance and might not even protect you from weapons fire or anything else damaging a hull (they can get hit too and are a lot easier to damage than a hull).

Filter/compressor masks designed for exploration are lighter and meant to be worn long term and dispense with the tanked air and heavier hose fittings.

Another trick in a spacer's kit is a survival bubble. Carrying spacesuits for everyone would take up several tons and is regarded as unnecessary. Survival bubbles are issued to everyone and are usually disregarded by the older crew. Any disaster bad enough to make you bubble up will probably have killed you outright. Of course they still carry theirs in emergency situations or combat.

Usually one person stands watch in a skin suit. This is as uncomfortable as it sounds and usually it's the lowest rank or the guy who last screwed up. This person is the one who responds to radiation leaks, fires, serious hull damage and the like. A skin suit uses tension to keep you comfortable in a vacuum. It doesn't slow you down but it fits like a second skin and takes a good half hour to wiggle into. It's not the kind of thing you can just throw on.

General Purpose suits can be thrown on in a minute or less with others assisting. If you skip safety checks, checking the consumables, and sanitary arrangements you can throw one on very quickly indeed 30 seconds or less. They are used in a wide variety of jobs and not particularly suited to any of them. GP suits can be used at one atmosphere of pressure. It is customary to use them at far less than that to conserve air and keep the suit more flexible. In general a user needs about fifteen minutes of preparation to adapt to .3 atmospheres of pressure safely. However, most warships will reduce pressure in an airlock to allow a crewman to suit up for a shift.

It is actually not recommended to use space armor near Jupiter  without extensive modifications to shield against radiation and magnetic effects. This pilot wanted a photo op, took a bunch of anti-rads when he docked and was written up.. 
Planned exposure allows you to take all manner of precautions. The number one precaution is to use Rigid Extra Vehicular Armor. The Luna carries a pair of REVAs (some call them the ship's boats). A user enters a REVA (you don't wear these, you drive them) through a hatch on the back. The armor is usually stored in lockers mounted outside a ship with the back hatch connected to a mini airlock.

Since the armor is rigid it can be worn at any internal pressure. Climbing into one is an intricate and uncomfortable process. Small females are preferred for this sort of thing. A very small person can climb in wearing a skin suit for added protection. Mounting the suits on the outside allows them to be used in a variety of toxic environments without transporting contaminants into the ship. this can be more of a problem than people realize. Lunar dust for example, is an abrasive material that is very bad for your lungs and gets caught in machinery. Having that stuff float around is an invitation to problems with crew and ship in the long run. In such cases the space armor is preferred to regular space suits.

The suits are propelled in space and on a planet by cold gas micro thrusters. Air intakes extend their range on worlds with an atmosphere. A greatly modified lifter belt negates gravity allowing it to fly (upright!) on most worlds using thrusters. The suits have a range on Earth or Venus of about 100 kilometers and move about 30 kph. This s doubled for Mars or the Moon. A REVA can cary about 200 kilos of cargo and there are slings to allow this. Some special forces teams have been inserted using REVA's. Each suit can fly two or three operatives down from an orbiting ship.

Air recycling and batteries operate about eight hours and there is a small water and food syrup reservoir. The food syrup can charitably be described as 'filling' and you have your choice of flavors: green or red. Many crew dose it with caffeine and other drink mixtures for flavor or an energy boost against regulations.

The operator's arms can be extended through metal tubing from the main 'hull of the armor. The arms are far longer than the operators but the last 20 centimeters or so are servo controls for the three mechanical fingers at the end of each tube. The servos are very comfortable to use, compared to regular spacesuit gloves that gradually wear down fingernails and stress fingers. They are very clumsy to use unless you're experienced with them.

Despite the name the armor is not well suited for combat. The arms are two short to easily use two handed weapons or long arms. Pistols need special modifications. In the Venus Uprising the suits did see combat. Dropped into the dense jungles to clear landing fields for aircraft, the insurgents quickly targeted them and discovered most hand weapons were useless. The Venus suits were modified with wrist mounted flamers and angering the pilots (calling them 'operators' was viewed as derogatory) usually resulted in a wall of flame in front of you or on you. The insurgents learned to ignore the armor and wait for aircraft to use the clearing since they were easier to damage.

REVAs excel at mining operations and most mining gear is designed to be modified for their use. Any well stocked ship has a bunch of converter kits aboard just in case.

CT and CE- REVAs are equivalent to battledress. They do not increase strength but double endurance for most tasks. The user's dexterity is halved for fine motor tasks (such as shooting). Battledress skill will restore 2 points of dexterity (up to the character's normal level), vacc suit skill restores 1 point per level. Rifles are at a further -1 to hit unless they've been modified for the armor.

Treat the arms and claws as cudgels when making hand to hand attacks. REVA armor is immune to punches and kicks in most cases (unless the attacker is a forklift bot).

 White Star- REVA gives the wearer armor class 3 [16]. The armor gives a +4 to saves versus explosions, flame and electrical attacks. The pilot does 1d6-1 in hand to hand combat. Their movement is double.

REVAs cost 10,000 cr.