von Braun Moonship

RocketCat sez

Oh, just look at that large silver globe scientifically packed with plenty of von Braun goodness! This little honey is from the famous Collier's Man Will Conqure Space Soon! series. We coudda had this back in the fifties, for cryin' out loud!

  • Deck 1: Control Deck. Workstations for Captain, Pilot, Flight Engineer, and Radio Operator. Telescope in the center is for taking navigational sightings through the iris-shuttered astrodome. Note ladderway on the right.
  • Deck 2: Navigation Deck. The large table is the chart recorder. An analog device indicates the spacecraft's current position, which can be compared to the planned position printed on the chart. On the right is the auxiliary astrodome and telescope/tracking camera. On the left is the shower, placed here due to lack of any other place to put it.
  • Deck 3: Crew Deck. The normal crew complement is 30, but the quarters has contour chairs for 60 in case another spacecraft in the expedition has a catastrophic failure. The spare chairs are folded up on the walls and stanchions. To the right is the ship's mess and kitchen.
  • Deck 4: Storage Deck. General storage. Also contains the main electrical distribution panel. The toilet is also located here (but isn't shown).
  • Deck 5: Consumables Deck. Oxygen, drinking water, grey water.
  • Deck 6: Main air lock.

Tintin's Moon-Rocket

RocketCat sez

Most of us ugly Americans have never heard of Tintin. Which is pathetic since it is one of the most popular European comics of the 20th century. The characters might look a bit comical but the science is hard enough to bend titanium bars around.

  1. ROCKET
    1. Radio and radar aerial
    2. Reserve tanks
    3. Control cabin
    4. Living quarters
    5. Stores
    6. Storage tanks, air, water, etc.
    7. Auxiliary engine propellant tanks
    8. Air lock and storage compartments
    9. Vehicle and storage deck
    10. Anti-radiation shield
    11. Motors
    12. Exhaust nozzle
    13. Stabilizing fins
    14. Landing-support fairing
    15. Shock absorbers
  2. AIR-LOCKS
    1. Passenger air-lock
    2. Protective-clothing room
    3. Cargo-loading air-lock
    4. Air-lock control room
  3. CONTROL CABIN
    1. Control desk
    2. Air-refrigeration plant
    3. Work table
    4. Observation equipment
    5. Laboratory
  4. LIVING QUARTERS
    1. Electric cooker
    2. Refrigerator
    3. Air purifier
    4. Bunks
    5. Lockers

Readers in the US might not recognize the Tintin graphic novels, but everybody in Europe has read them. This nuclear powered rocket was quite well researched for the time. The main engine is apparently a NERVA style solid nuclear thermal rocket fueled with plutonium. The launch site has a breeder reactor used to cook uranium 238 into plutonium for fuel rods. The rocket lifts off and lands with an auxillary chemical rocket fueled by nitric acid and aniline, so as to prevent contaminating the ground with radiation.

The authors of the indispensable Spaceship Handbook did find one minor mistake. The astronauts lie prone on their acceleration couches, which is pretty much the worst position possible (second only to standing on their heads).

The authors of the Spaceship Handbook suggests that this was due to Mr. Rémy misinterpreting the diagram of the Werner von Braun moonship. In that diagram, the crew members who need to monitor the chart recorder are prone, but everybody in their acceleration stations are properly on their backs.

Anyway this is a minor flaw in a design that gets it right.

Blue Max Studio's "RG-403 Heinlein"

Artist Ray McVay has studied realistic spacecraft design in general (and this webiste in particular), and has produced some very scientifically accurate spacecraft deck plans. He has some commercially available plans suitable for use in role-playing-games. This images do not do them justice, you'll have to check out the real thing.

Blue Max Studio's CASSTOR Launch Vehicle

Another design by Ray McVay, the Annabelle Li: a modified CASSTOR Launch Vehicle.

Interior is about 4.5 meters tall. Free-fall makes it feel more spacious. Upper cubbies are tapered to nose.

1. Docking ring airlock

2. Celing with low heat lighting and hand holds.

3. First cubby: head (toilet), life support, storage lockers.

4. Flight deck.

5. Service deck (catty-corner to flight deck to allow face to face communication).

6. Computer housing AI Annabelle Li and peripheries.

7. Door to corner segment housing air-scrubbers, batteries, and assorted engineering.

8. Galley: food processors and ten food lockers.

9. Main airlock.

1. Docking ring airlock

5. Service deck.

9. Main airlock.

10. Workroom. Miniature fab-lab capable of creating spare parts and components. Red box with white door is 3D printer. Below printer is CNC cutter. Also has trays of off-the-shelf components, storage lockers with tools and feed stocks, and a small workbench.

11. Dorm. Each coffin-rack sleeping unit is 1.5m by 0.8m square. Each has smart screens, padded walls with webbing, and built-in life support gear mounted in between the cubbies.

Not shown is radiation shelter located below, in tiny room surrounded by the propellant tanks.

Nightrider

Nightrider is a fascinating novel by David Mace. Nightrider is a military spacecraft with an experimental gravity drive, along with more conventional fusion drives.

In the Nightrider universe, military ships can be easily tracked by their brilliant fusion drive plumes. After each burn, the ship can no longer be detected, however this does not matter since its future posiiton can be easily calculated for any time. A telescope monitors the theoretical position of the ship, watching for any future burns. Whereupon the new trajectory is calculated.

The point is that there are no military strategic surprises. The enemy knows exactly where every one of your ships are, and when they will arrive at their destinations.

Nightrider's top secret gravity drive will change all that. It will allow the ship to make changes in trajectory invisibly, without any bright fusion plumes. Ships so equipped can thrust with fusion drives, the enemy will calculate the future trajectory, the ship will sneakily change their course with the gravity drive, and the enemy will have a rude surprise when you ship appears at an unexpected location. The drive can only accelerate Nightrider 0.25g, but that is plenty. Since it is a reactionless drive, low thrust is not a problem.


Alas, in reality, this won't work. Because there ain't no stealth in space. Specifically because even though there is no brilliant fusion drive plume, the gigawatt fusion reactor powering the gravity drive will emit enough megawatts of waste heat to be just as easily detected.


Be that as it may, the Nightrider is still very interesting in its internal arrangement of deck plans.

Nightrider had two propulsion systems. One of them radiated no light, no heat, no anything but a ghost of gravity, left no detectable trace other than an infinitely small shift in the net momentum of the rest of the cosmos—an invisible driving force, hence Nightrider's name. The other blazed with the violent furious fusion light of the stars—a torch flame streaking heaven.

From Nightrider by David Mace (1985)

Nightrider was all drive system and power reactor and support functions, feedstock, fusion booster ring, flight control mechanisms and a minimal payload. The payload consisted of a two-deck crew module capped with a planetary lander, and seven human beings. The lander and most of the passenger-crew had been opportunistically added to take advantage of the main mission target...

Nightrider's guts were a continuous flow fusion reactor burning a deuterium and helium-3 feedstock. Deuterium and helium-3 produced no energetic neutrons during fusion, and thus none of the associated severe radiation problems. The reactor's continuous feed plasma did produce helium-4 nuclei and protons, produced in other words a charged plasma which served as a raw induction generator capable of inducing massive currents in the encompassing electric pick-up coils. The monstrous quantities of electrical energy went to feed the heart, the drive unit, where gravitons were kicked into infinitesirnal existence, pushing the drive unit, pushing the vehicle built around it. Nightrider's heart was Nightrider's secret, operational for the first time ever. There was no exhaust trail, no light flare, no ion stream and associate synchrotron radiation, no magnetic field disturbance, no hard radiation beacon. There was no way to detect the black dragon in the lightless night of space.

Nightrider was a bulky flat-ended cylinder sixteen metres across and forty metres long housing feedstock, the reactor, the drive chamber, and the solid mass of associate and support systems. Inside its uppermost end, protected from the fusion sun fires by the shielding plate, was the brain and all the sensitive peripheral electronics and autonomous control functions. Attached to the top, equally protected by the radiation shield, was the two-deck crew module, eight metres wide, surrounded by a ring of all-frequency active and passive sensors, eyes that covered every part of the spectrum from X-ray through visual to radar wavelengths. Mounted on top of the crew module was the broad truncated cone of the planetary lander...

Apart from the lander team's small arms, Nightrider currently had only one weapon. The main hull was completely enclosed in a girdle of huge expendable pods containing thousands of tonnes of deuterium-tritium propellant feed pellets. Four of the pods were nothing more than propellant tanks, four more were propellant tanks with through-flow fusion reactors mounted—four monstrously powerful rockets that could exert a continuous 10g thrust. Such high-gee manoeuvrability might prove to be as valuable tactically as the drive invisibility on target approach was strategically, but that was not the purpose of the fusion boosters. The combined plasma jet, a searing flood of charged ions and massive neutron flux and sheer sun heat, was a weapon trailing torching kilometres of absolute lethality...

The booster pods one to four each had their own hundreds of tonnes of reaction mass propellant, but the four pure tank pods alternating with them in Nightrider's girdle had to be drained first for jettisoning. The fusion thrust steadily reduced auto­matically as propellant mass was expended and pods dumped, keeping constant the gee forces on the tolerance limited structures—five gee with the lander docked, ten without it...

From Nightrider by David Mace (1985)

Ali fingertip tugged himself along the ladder, past the break at the forward hatch seal—the upper hatch seal when pulling gee—and into the transfer tunnel...

The tunnel was narrow and the ladder reduced the free space still further. It was three metres long, but you couldn't quite comfortably turn round in it. Ali coasted on to the open docking hatch leading into the lander...

At the moment, in free fall and with all the hatches open, the ten metres from the lander's crew space ceiling to the deck of the transfer lock made by far the longest uninterrupted linear dimension aboard Nightrider...

She touched briefly, straddle legged, on the airlock deck (inside the lander), then she let herself fall again through the lock well, the docking collar, down the transfer tunnel, braking and guiding with her hands sliding down the ladder sides. Through the top hatch of the transfer lock onto solid deck.

From Nightrider by David Mace (1985)

The lander was a truncated cone, eight metres across its base, four metres across its top, and five metres high. Docked, its circular roof represented Nightrider's nose, flat to friction-less space. The lander was mostly propellant and oxidant tanks, with a narrow crew space tucked up under its roof and a centre axial lock below connecting with the transfer tunnel.

The lander's maximum structural tolerance was 5g—if Nightrider pulled a full 10g burn the lander would collapse, along with the overloaded supporting structure of the crew module...

All went through the deformable docking rim section, through the lock well and into the broader lock. He caught a rung of the ladder continuation, turned a somersault, and then headed back into the docking tunnel. Samson had managed to coax the suit's head and shoulders through the transfer lock hatch...

Passing through the tunnel, they passed through the hollow centre of the lander's ring-booster, a support stage eight metres across and two metres deep (ed note: I think 2 metres is a mistake, should be 3 metres deep). The ring-booster was just motors and propellant-and-oxidant tanks and pumps, good for a 180 second 3g burn, then only good for dumping. But three minutes at 3g would take them most of the way down from a low or grazing incidence orbit, and leave the lander proper with enough reaction mass to finish the descent, hover for minutes on end to check the terrain at the landing site, then launch up into orbit again and do as much orbital manoeuvring as could foreseeably prove necessary. It was good to know when you made your first touchdown fifty-one billion kilometres from home, with nowhere to go but back, and that only possible after redocking with Nightrider, that you had more than twice as much fuel aboard as you actually needed to get up into orbit again. It allowed for margins. And the lander had four rocket motors delivering 3g together. If one of them failed you just shut down the diametrically opposite motor for the sake of stability, and you still had more than enough thrust to get up again.

Ali hauled the suit through the docking rim section and through the lock well into the lander's lock. There he had more room and pulled it in beside him. The lock was also the lander's wash down space and toilet—the toilet just a fold-away suction abort—and a hard stores space. Ten backpacks were racked in one side on recharge and replenishment, two suits were stowed opposite each other in support clamps because they would be "standing" when the lander fired manoeuvre burns or rested at touchdown. The fourth side accommodated the toilet and wash towels dispenser, and stowed ground equipment. The ground equipment could tolerate vacuum...

It was a constant three gee burn, the systems computer automatically reducing thrust as they lost mass through propellant expenditure. The lander tipped to ten degrees down from tail forwards, and fired the ring-booster motors at minus 210 from site hover. At 15:20:25. After exactly three minutes the thrust cut, the ring-booster kicked free, and then thrust resumed on the lander's four main engines. The landing legs deployed, hydraulic insect limbs. The radar altimeter aimed obliquely at the target site ground and adjusted the burn accordingly. After 210 seconds all lateral velocity had been shed and the lander tipped to vertical with respect to Hel to kill the residual fall. Six and a half seconds later they were hovering thirty metres off the surface at one fifth of full thrust...


The crew space was going to be cramped for five people. It was three and a half metres by two metres by one point seven metres, a rectangular place just under the lander's roof. The closeable hole in the centre of the deck opened from the airlock, the panel in the centre of the ceiling concealed the emergency hatch, the route by which they had entered Night-rider three hundred days ago before the voyage began. Through the transfer lock, and through the lander when docked, was the only way in or out of the crew module.

The crew space wasn't empty, even with Ali as the only human occupant. On each side of the airlock hatchway the deck rose as stores lockers that ran out to each end wall and bent L-shaped to fill up the deck in the rear outer corners. Every square centimetre of the locker sides and the four walls was equipment drawer or storage door. Besides all the expendable and non-expendable equipment for use after touchdown, the lander had crew consumables enough to keep five people alive for twenty-two days (110 person-days of consumables).

Acceleration couches were mounted in two pairs on the lockers—just padded and lightly contoured couches, these were intended to help a human being through a mere 3g manoeuvre. The left-hand pair were for Ali and Kim, beside their seat sections were set main thrust regulators and attitude motor joy-stick triggers, just in case real flying was ever called for instead of pre-programmed computerized sequences. A fifth couch was stowed against the forward wall at the deck: it could be mounted in the gap between the lockers over the airlock hatch. The two outer fixed couches were deployed flat, reaching headrest to footboard right across the two metres from rear to forward wall. Their partnering data screens mounted on ceiling slides waited blankly level with the headrests. The two inner couches were tipped up as seats facing the forward wall, their data screens dropped perpendicular as wall panels at the forward ends of their ceiling slides. The screen for the stowed fifth couch was flat up against the ceiling...

Samson tipped the couch right back to its flat mode, lying on it lazily. As he tipped the couch the attendant screen folded up along the ceiling and slid backwards until it was placed directly above his head...

Ali shrugged, stood up stooping and stepped to the hatch. The composite ladder led down a narrow eight metre drop.

Samson slipped out the key pad recessed in the side of the couch. Each couch had a key pad...

Kim stood up stooping under the low ceiling, pausing between the footrests of the flattened couches. The four fixed couches made a second, contoured deck bridging both halves of the crew space from front wall to back. Only the space between the floor lockers showed a strip of the real deck, and that divided in two by the open airlock hatch...

From Nightrider by David Mace (1985)

(Upper level)

(Sleep cubicle) A very little space—two hundred centimetres long, one hundred and fifty wide, one-hundred and thirty high. Not that long and wide and high and floor and ceiling and wall meant anything. Afloat you are as you are, you orientate the world according to your own direction, it tyrannizes you less directly...

Set in the side walls, softly padded, were the white fold-down doors to the personal lockers. She twisted around herself so that she could reach, grasped one of the recessed handles, and rotated herself in a wrist-twisting somersault, pushed herself with a last touch towards the corner screen, towards the little door beside it...

The ring corridor was octagonal, was a generous metre wide. In the centre was the transfer lock giving access to the lander wedded to the top of the crew module, was the ladder down to the main deck of the module, were the two flanking halves of the module's structure and service core, all very compact. Around the outside were the seven sleep cubicles and the hygiene room. The private world ended at the hatch door, was confined to the cocooning little nest box inside. The night-lit ring corridor was public space...

(Hygiene room) Another little box, but one you could stand up in when pulling gee. There was just enough room to rotate yourself between the screen door of the shower, the recessed hand douche with its mounted mirror, and the toilet sitting like the smooth rim of a high hollow saddle...

She glided into the corridor again and closed the door behind her, leaving the lights in there to Nightrider. She pushed off for the grab handle opposite Shapir's cubicle, pulled herself around it to the recessed ladder across from the hygiene room, changed grip and followed the ladder through its hatch rim into the main deck light. She arrived nominally upside down to it all, facing the ladder. To her left was the narrow doorway into the empty day room, to her right the doorway into the galley. Only doorways—on the main deck there were no doors, just partition walls separating the circular space around the central core.


(Main Level)

Kim hated the weights and the exercise periods. Always had. Round and round the main deck, hopping the partition door­ways, jogging the continuous curve. Round and round and round (counterclockwise). Ten times round. Exercise space (yellow), galley (orange), ladder space (red), day room (blue), workshop (orange), exercise space. Round and round...

Over the sill, into the workshop. Stupid sills. Just six centimetres at every doorway. Stupid little six centimetres...

(Exercise space) the exercise space was opposite the day room. Strapped to the bike saddle against free fall, Sandra faced the central core, had the galley doorway to her left. In the workshop Ali was buckled into one of the rotatable chairs, dividing his attention between a bench anchored tester module and the inverted, hovering, oversized shadow of a night-black suit...

The exercise bike was usable in free fall because of the saddle strap; the treadmill beside it was only practicable when pulling gee. The work bars with their torsion pulleys mounted on the outer wall to the other side of the bike were equally good in free fall or gee...

None of it was relevant to coping with Nightrider's maximum 10g, for that you needed an acceleration couch. There were three of those for the lander team against the outer wall over in the day room; the other two were here in the exercise space, one against each partition wall, outwards from the doorway...

(Day room) They sat on the curved couch in the outer corner of the day room at the workshop end. Most of the rest of the arcing outer wall was taken up by the three acceleration couches rowed head to tail, ten gee refuges for Akira and Samson and Yasmin. Halfway round the tight curve of the central core, inset into the split bench seat at its base, the door of the flight centre hatchway was rolled closed. Sandra was in there rehearsing manoeuvre games across a simulated Hades System. That they had done now in months of specific mission training and months of eventless flight. The day room swept a full third of the curve of the main deck. From the couch corner at the workshop end they could hardly read the chronometer over the ladder space doorway at the far end, and had to lean forward to read the one up on the partition wall over the workshop doorway. And the ceiling mounted screens partnering each of the high acceleration couches were dead...

(Galley) Most of the galley was filled by the little table alcove, the rest by the through-way to the adjacent exercise space...

Sandra pulled at the doorway rim to turn herself, hovered in front of the larder. She rolled up the door of the cool cupboard, eased out the weightlessly running yogurt drawer and coaxed a tub out of its clip. She left the tub tumbling vaguely more or less towards the table, fingertip swapped the yogurt drawer for the fruit squashes, selected sweetened pineapple and lime, let the drawer sail home, rolled down the door.

Then he looked hard at the larder roll doors and the microwave and thermal cookers filling the narrow wall behind her between the two doorways...

The main stores were behind the table alcove, a solid packed volume between the galley and the outer wall of the crew module, inside the central service core, and inside most of the space between the workshop and the outer wall on the opposite side of the main deck. Replenishing the larder meant opening freezer hatches and extracting packets, variously rehydrating or thawing to reconstitute the contents, and then loading them into the keep drawers in the galley. A fully automated service waiter would have been possible, retrieving, reconstituting, and where required cooking everything, but then the crew benefited from something to do and above all from a feeling of involvement in their own sustenance...

(Flight Center) The entrance to the flight centre was in the day room at the base of the central core. Seventy centimetres square, and angled at forty-five degrees to floor and inner core wall, it was , more a hatchway than a doorway. Not that the distinction mattered in free fall. A little crypt of highest technology, more than half recessed below the main deck level underneath the central core, the flight centre lay exactly on Nightrider's longitudinal axis, a location selected so as to minimize the disruptive effects upon the two pilots of sudden attitude changes during manoeuvring. Flush with the bottom deck were two acceleration couches like a pair of waiting sarcophagi, arranged almost as a "V," heads quite close together about half a metre in from the entrance hatchway, feet further apart. There was a strip of the padded deck between the two couches down to mid-thigh level, then they were seperated by an intrusive part of the solid structure that kept the crew module from collapsing at maximum gee. The flight centre was a split space, a tomb for twins, featureless except for the human shaped deep indentation in each couch, and a pair of fiat and silvery screens in the slightly sloped ceiling an arm's reach above. There were no littering control interfaces, no running readouts.

There was a handle under the upper hatch rim. When pulling gee you went in feet first and then pushed yourself legs extended into the waiting couch. In free fall it was easier—you swung in feet first and steered yourself straight down the narrow slot that belonged to you. Sandra went in first, sliding to the right. The lighting came on, triggered by Nightrider.

She dug her heels into the couch recesses before letting go of the handle inside the hatch, then with ankles gripped by the couch, she had enough purchase to slide her hands into the arm troughs and wriggle neatly into place. Getting into the couch was one of the few things that was easier when pulling gee—getting out was easier in tree fall. You fitted perfectly into the couch, flush with the padded floor. Its quilted material completely covered over your arms and legs, lapped round your sides, cupped your head so that you could only hear through the built-in earphones. Nothing pressed against you, it was like floating in a dry fluid, but the couch held you. It was essentially a water bed, an immersion tank. A layer of water a mere centimetre thick circulated around you, kept you hovering sweetly between cool and warm. The water layer could have been a millimetre thick if it wasn't for the risk of localized pinching of the immersion film because of a creased overall or a tensed elbow. Afloat was afloat. And afloat meant immunity to Nightrider's maximum ten gee.

At 10g acceleration the weight of nine additional breast­bones pressed upon your breastbones, an almost unnoticeable load. But ten times your Earth weight—your evolutionary designed weight—crushed your spine and pelvis into whatever you lay on, tugged your cheeks into your ears, clamped your tongue asphyxiatingly against the back of your throat, stressed your ribs almost until they snapped. If you were lightly muscled from your bone strength, and above all cardiac fit, then it probably wouldn't kill you unless sustained for too long, but you would pass out, which would make you useless. But immersed in a bed of incompressible fluid like water, be it only a suspending centimetre layer, the weight on your back was turned into evenly distributed pressure over your whole body. And because the human body, apart from a few air spaces, is essentially a water volume, then despite a weight gradient form breastbone and abdominal muscle to spine, the internal pressure was evenly distributed. The physical distress was largely cancelled out, you functioned the way you should.

Arms enclosed in the couch, Sandra slipped her fingers into the concealed gloves and touched the key pads, one for each hand. Each pad had five keys, you talked into it by pressing with fingers and thumb in varying patterns (a chorded keyboard). All five at once meant "activate" and "space." You could talk with the left hand, with the right hand, or allegedly with both at once, holding two distinct conversations with the computers. She had yet to meet someone who had been proved to be able to do that.

She swung her arms a little out to the side, the only movement accommodated by the couch, and found the joy-stick trigger grip on the left, the attitude ball control on the right. Those were the controls for manual manoeuvring, and they would never be used. Normally you just lay there and told Nightrider what to do. Otherwise you talked instructions into a key pad and then let the computation run the manoeuver...

From Nightrider by David Mace (1985)

Space Scout

RocketCat sez

Oh, I remember studying this ship when I was a kitten, in the poster hanging on my wall. The poster was based on work from Frank Tinsley, one of the gods of spaceship art. It does have a couple of questionable design decisions, but the blasted thing is more scientifically accurate than 99% of media science fiction. There is nothing quite as mentally stimulating as a good cut-away diagram. You can really put yourself in the picture.

This is from a book entitled The Answer to the Space Flight Challenge by Frank Tinsley (1958).

Noted rocket engineer G. Harry Stine designed this vehicle in the early 1950's. He figured that manned space stations would be controlled by the nation that built them. Therefore a scientific station could be instantly transformed into a martial moon at the sound of a trumpet! Horrors! Armed with atomic missiles, they could strike any spot on Earth. What a hideous threat to freedom and democracy the world over.

The space scout is designed to deal with this menace, blowing up hostile stations with atomic missiles before they can strike. Without it, the world stands unarmed and helpless before the threats of a technologically advanced dictator.

At least according to Mr. Stine. In reality it would probably be far more cost effective to just launch flight after flight of surface-to-orbit missiles until the evil space station was vaporized.

The spacecraft flies nose first in space, driven by the liquid fuel rocket engine. It flies tail first in the air, driven by the three jet engines. This means that the jet engine exhaust goes "upward", that is, in the opposite direction of the rocket exhaust.

The jet engines are mounted on "M" shaped supersonic wings fitted with conventional airplane control surfaces. Note that the control surfaces are on the upper edge of the wing, not the lower. The elongated nose cone of each jet engine doubles as a landing leg. Velbor points out that this is a poor design decision. A hard landing will transmit shock directly to the delicate mechanism of the jet engine turbines. They may explosively delaminate, shooting turbine blades at everything in line with the turbine plane. Which you may have noticed includes the fuel tanks.

The tail of the spacecraft is bulbous to increase the heat radiating surface area, and corrugated with liquid oxygen cooling pipes. In other words it is trying to do the same job as the heat shield on the base of the Apollo command module.

The three transparent blisters on the flight deck help the pilot to land by providing full ground visibility via a system of reflecting mirrors.

With the three man crew, two are always on duty while the third sleeps. In combat conditions all three are on duty. The craft is designed for a three-day mission, with a maximum life-support endurance of a week.

Mr. Stine later developed the design further into the "Mars Snooper." This added a petal like shields closing over the liquid fuel rocket engine bell during re-entry, and a more elongated passenger section. One difference is that this design uses a nuclear thermal rocket instead of a chemical one. The reactor also runs the jet engines, which are more like an air-fed nuclear ramjet. In 1971, the Estes model rocket company made a model rocket based on the Mars Snooper. My father had one. I always wondered why the tail fins were "M" shaped.

STEPS IN THE RACE TO OUTER SPACE

This nuclear-fueled reconnaissance craft is preparing to land on Mars' outermost satellite, Deimos — 12,500 miles away from the "red planet" (center) and 35 million miles away from the Earth.

Our spaceship is designed to fly in two directions—nose first as a space rocket and tail-first as a ramjet airplane. Propulsion for both is provided by a single atomic heat source, reacting with hydrogen for rocket thrust, and with atmosphere to power the ramjets.

As the ship approaches the Earth's atmosphere, it assumes a tail-first attitude. The "petal doors" enclose the rocket nozzle, and the ship is transformed into a high speed, ramjet airplane with M-shaped wings. Control fins are located in the nose of the craft, near the crew's quarters.

From Mars Snooper American Bosch Arma, (1959)

Tinsley Photon Rocket

This is a design for a photon-drive spacecraft, boosted into orbit by a chemical rocket. Note that the designer is a tad unclear on the concept. The photon drive is fed gigawatts of electricty by the fusion reactor, while the poor ship relies upon a crude solar boiler for its internal power. Nowadays photon drives are considered impractical, due to their ridiculous power requirements (three hundred megawatts for one lousy Newton of thrust).

For the diagram to the right:

  1. Bridge deck
  2. Cabin deck
  3. Airtight access hatches
  4. Retractable solar steam plant
  5. Electronic navigational and communication gear
  6. Stores, spacesuits, special gear, etc.
  7. Breathing oxygen
  8. Water supply/fusion fuel
  9. Fusion reactor (quaintly and mistakenly label a "nuclear pile")
  10. Reactor controls
  11. Radiation manifold
  12. Photon drive
  13. Tripod legs.

Discovery from 2001 A Space Odyssey

Blueprint Attempt

RocketCat sez

Ya gotta include the Discovery! Only the coolest movie spacecraft ever in the history of cinema. Blasted thing looks like it came from a NASA study or flew out of a Robert McCall painting (actually McCall did paint it afterwards). But this is to be expected from a ship designed by Sir Arthur C. Clarke himself. The only thing is lacks is heat radiators, but that's not Clarke's fault. He originally included them but was over-ruled by the art department.

In the blueprints above, it shows the command module as being in line with the centrifuge hub. This is incorrect, because it would force the command module windows to be along the sphere's equator. As you can see from the photos the windows are north of the equator.

Cyrille Castellant

In these blueprints by Cyrille Castellant, the command module is offset from the hub axis with a slanted corridor. However, the designer makes the pod bay warehouse vertical instead of horizontal.

Kiyoshi Hiura

This marvelous reconstruction is made by a talented CGI artist named Kiyoshi Hiura. Below is the Babelfish translation of the relevant blog post (from Japanese into Broken English) and a translation by Michael Bianco.

Babelfish translation

Looking “the traveling of movie, at 2001 outer space” internal constitution of the [deisukabari] number probably has just become how? Artificial gravity (centrifugal force) it stays and the residential area how probably has been settled somewhere? You think that with the person who had doubt it is many.

As for the design figure of the [deisukabari] number when it was abolished, with thing, as for accurate structure you do not understand in regrettable thing. Here the next rough information

  • As for sphere of head about diameter 12m
  • Artificial gravity (centrifugal force) it stays, as for diameter of the residential area about 10m
  • As for diameter of pod about 2m

With, it presumed the internal constitution of the [deisukabari] number from each scene of the movie and tried drawing up the CG model.

Bianco's translation

How in the heck is the inside of the Discovery "deisukabari" (as seen in 2001 A Space Odyssey) configured? Where and how is the artificial gravity (centrifugal force) crew quarters situated? I think a lot of people have these questions.

Unfortunately, the plans for the Discovery have been lost, so we don't know the exact configuration. Here are the basic facts:

  • The spherical bow/head of the ship has a diameter of about 12 meters
  • The artificial gravity (centrifugal force) crew quarters has a diameter of about 10 meters
  • The diameter of the pods are about 2 meters

I've conjectured on the internal configuration from these facts and from (watching) each scene of the film, and built this CG model.

Internal Configuration

It is the figure which was seen from port side.

Picture of the Discovery as seen from the port side.

There is artificial gravity staying residential area in the form which parallels to the structure of muffler condition of the sphere rear. There is an air lock and equipment and material retention room in the floor of the pod bay. The equipment and material retention room is installed somewhat slantingly. It is the room of 8 prisms which remove the exchange part of AE35 unit. There is an air lock in the kind of form which strikes with the equipment and material retention room slantingly. Bowman there is no helmet with is the room which jumps.

The artificial gravity crew quarters (light blue) lies along the scarf/muffler shape on the back half of the sphere [the author previously refers to the sphere module of the Discovery as a head; the scarf/muffler reference is apparently an extended metaphor, so a less literal but more accurate translation translation might be: ...crew quarters lies along/on the tapering neck at the rear of the sphere module]. On the pod bay floor are the airlock (dark blue) and the equipment storage room (green). The equipment storage room is set at a somewhat oblique angle. It is the octagonal room from which the crew retrieved the replacement AE35 unit. The airlock seems to run into the equipment storage room at an oblique angle. This is the room into which Bowman leapt without a helmet.

It is the figure which was seen from above. There is a room (in figure yellow) which, even the switch room it should call in rear of the cockpit there is a passage and an intersection section (purple) in that rear. In the intersection section the switch room, the passage from port, the passage to artificial gravity staying residential area and the passage to the control room of starboard lower part cross. Furthermore, there is also an entrance to the memory room of HAL in the switch room.

This is a picture of the Discovery as seen from above. Behind the cockpit, there is what we could call the switch room (pictured as yellow) (ed note: Switch room is labeled "HAL logic room" in blueprint above), and behind this is a corridor and hub [literally intersection room] (purple). The hub is where the switch room and port- side corridor, the corridor leading to the crew quarters, and the starboard-side leading to the control room intersect. (ed note: hub is labeled "central air lock" in blueprint above) There is also the hatch leading to Hal's Memory Room in the switch room. (ed note: Mr. Kiyoshi seems to think that there is a purple corridor parallel to the HAL logic room, I am unconvinced that it exists.)

It is the figure which was seen from starboard side.

This is a picture of the Discovery as seen from the starboard side.

There is the memory room of HAL in the starboard side cockpit floor. There is a control room in the pod bay floor. There is a ladder to the cockpit floor in the inner part of the control room.

On the starboard side is the cockpit floor with HAL's memory room (red) being on this same floor. The pod bay floor has the control room (ed note: labeled "Pod Bay Control Room" in blueprint above). Next to the control room is a ladder which leads to the cockpit floor (ed note: labeled "Main Ladder" in blueprint above).

Movement in the Film

Bowman perceiving to the pool aviator being let flow, tries probably to go to the pod bay from the cockpit. In the picture, the seat it stands, " gets off " the ladder to the port rear. (Because it is kind of picture where the front is after to rear it is shape which " it gets off ") (From port as for movement to starboard side in picture it does not appear)

When Bowman notices that Astronaut Poole is being swept out into space, he moves from the cockpit to the pod bay. As pictured, he stands up from his seat and descends a ladder that takes him portside and back. (The front [of the cockpit] appears to become up in this image, so going back/aft would appear as "going down"/"descending") (ed note: in other scense, the front of the cockpit is shown as "forwards" instead of "up". This is because unsophisticated movie audience cannot understand that rockets are not boats) (The move from port to starboard is not shown) (ed note: The CG artist seems to think that there is a purple corridor parallel to the HAL logic room, I am unconvinced that it exists. I think that Bowman simply flew down the center of the HAL logic room.)

With the following scene it gets off the ladder which is connected to the starboard control room. And it goes to the pod bay. (Because it is difficult to see, it abbreviated pod)

In the next scene, he is descending the ladder connected to the starboard side control room. Then, he proceeds to the pod bay. (The pods have been removed for clarity)

With the [ri] which is the [ku] of air lock thrust, Bowman who enters from the air lock goes through the pod bay, the ladder of the control room inner part rises entering the control room. It moves to the passage intersection section from the stairway.

As for when he enters the airlock (ed note: without a helmet), Bowman, after entering the airlock, crosses/traverses the pod bay, enters the pod control room, and then climbs the ladder next to the control room. From these steps [ladder], he goes to the hub (ed note: central air lock).

With the following scene from the passage intersection section it appears in the switch room, takes the key, keeps entering to the memory room of HAL.

In the next scene, we see the switch room (Hal logic room) from the hub (central air lock). Bowman takes a key and enters HAL's memory room.

Diameter in sphere of the head was designated as 12m, but really there is about 13m because with, you think. We want 12.5m at least. In addition, as for diameter of pod that you think whether it is not about 1.9m. When structure and artificial gravity (centrifugal force) of muffler condition of the neck it stays and the residential area will be by chance, there is a possibility of having relationship. Perhaps it is settled in the muffler section. Structure of the passage intersection section it continues to be puzzle. Because the passage to artificial gravity staying residential area from the cockpit floor a little is below, the intersection section means to connect the mouth where height is different.

With movie “2010” as for the [deisukabari] number, the kind of revolution which turns over was done. This because revolution of artificial gravity staying residential area stops, is assumed that it is something due to the moment. But, how seeing, the fact that arranging artificial gravity staying residential area in such direction means you think that it is not possible. The top of the cockpit is unreasonable and, also between of the cockpit and the pod bay and under pod [be] [i] are unreasonable.

The front sphere's diameter was made to be 12m, but in fact I think it is about 13 meters. At the very least, we want to be 12.5m. Also, I'm thinking 'Shouldn't the diameter of the pods be about 1.9m instead of 2m' ? It is possible that the connection/relationship between the scarf shaped structure at the neck [of the forward module] and the crew quarters is incidental (ed note: it is unclear if the centrifuge is located in the scarf by chance or by design). It may or may not be situated in/on the scarf-like part. The configuration of the hub remains a mystery. The corridor to the artificial gravity crew quarters is a little below the floor of the cockpit, so the hub would be connected to corridors and hatches set at different heights (ed note: The centrifuge corridor has to be centered on the long axis of the Discovery, which is a little below the level of the cockpit deck. The hub will have to accomodate this. In the Castellant blueprint, the hub and the centrifuge corridor are connected by a sloping passage.)

In the movie 2010, the Discovery is rotating in a head-over-heels/somersault manner. This would entail having to stop the rotation of the artificial gravity crew quarters. However, which ever way you look at it, I think it would be impossible to use the artificial gravity crew quarters with this sort of orientation. Moving up out of the cockpit, moving between the cockpit and pod bay, and going down into the pod bay would all likewise be impossible. (ed note: I believe that Mr. Kiyoshi misunderstands. In 2010, the somersault motion of the Discovery is not by design. He is correct that it would make movement through the ship to be impossible. According to the novel, the Discovery is turning head-over-heels because the centrifuge has come to a halt and transfered its angular momentum to the entire ship. However, having said that, it seems to me that would make the ship spin on its long axis, not somersaulting. Andrew Broeker points out that the Discovery would initially spin on its long axis, but due to flexure the rotational axis would gradually shift to the one shown in the movie)

Images

Command Module

Main Ladder

Pod Bay Control Room

Main Pod Bay

Pod Bay Warehouse

Exterior Air Lock

HAL Logic Memory Center

Centrifuge

The Outrim Queen

The Outrim Queen is featured in Outrim by J. Mauloni, a most scientifically accurate webcomic.

The Satellite

The Spinner

The Comet

The Comet from the Captain Future novels of Edmund Hamiltion is about as scientific as Flash Gordon. The idea of a space pilot pressing their foot on a cyclotron pedal like the accelerator on an automobile is sightly comical. And the electroscope is needed to follow hostile spacecraft by their rocket trail, since apparently nobody had invented radar. But the novels do have an almost "Star Wars" like charm.

The Comet

NO account of the Futuremen would be complete without a description of their famous space ship, the Comet.

This craft is the fastest ship in space. It can go where no other vessel would dare go, and contains within its compact interior full equipment for almost any emergency. It is, in fact, the flying laboratory of Captain Future and his comrades.

The Comet was built on the Moon by Curt Newton and the Futuremen. Into it, they put all their unparalleled scientific knowledge and skill. As a result, no ship in the System can outrival the Comet.

The hull is of an odd shape, like that of an elongated tear drop. This streamlined design was adopted because it combats air-resistance perfectly. Of course, there is no air-resistance in empty space. But streamlined construction makes for efficiency when cleaving through the atmosphere of a planet.

The hull is made with triple-sealed walls, each wall composed of a secret alloy devised by Curt and the Brain for special lightness and strength. The space between the walls is packed with a super-insulation. Thus the Comet can resist temperatures that would destroy an ordinary ship. Of course, when it ventures into extreme heat like that of the solar corona, it has to be protected by its "halo" of screening radiation.

The power-plant of the Comet consists of nine cyclotrons of unusual design. The cyclotrons are the heart of any space ship. They convert powdered mineral fuel into raving energy, by atomic disintegration.

The process is started by a switch which releases a powerful flash of force from a condenser into the cycs. After that, it is self-continuous, a small fraction of the generated power being constantly "fed back" into the cycs to keep up the process of atomic disintegration.

The main flood of terrific atomic energy flows through the control valves into the various rocket-tubes of the ship, as directed by the pilot. If the energy is blasted out of the tail rocket-tubes, it hurls the ship straight forward. If directed into the bow or braking tubes, it slows down the craft. If turned into the lateral tubes along the aide of the ship, or the top tubes in the upper side or the keel tubes in the lower, it pushes the ship up or down or to one side.

THE SPACE-STICK

The Comet owes its unrivaled speed to the fact that its massive cyclotrons are of such radical design that they can produce an unprecedented output of atomic power. These cycs are one of the greatest inventive achievements of Captain Future.

The control of the Comet is essentially much like that of any space ship. The pilot sits in his chair, the main control panel In front of him. Above, easily in view, is the broad space window.

Between the pilot's knees is the space-stick and under his feet are two pedals.

The space-stick is important. It Is a device to control the flow of the atomic power into the various rocket-tubes at will, without the necessity of opening or closing the individual throttle of each tube. Such individual throttles are on the control panel for delicate maneuvering and special uses, but the space-stick is in use most of the time.

When the space-stick is in upright position, all the power of the cyclotrons is directed out of the tail-tubes, flinging the ship straight ahead. But when you pull the space-stick back toward you, it cuts some of the power into the rear keel tubes, with the result that the ship zooms upward in space. Similarly, when you push the space-stick forward, some of the power is cut into the rear top rocket-tubes, which sends the ship diving downward. The farther forward you push the stick, the more power goes into the top tubes, and the steeper is your dive. Moving the stick sideward cuts power into the right or left lateral tubes and turns your ship to right or left.

Under the pilot's right foot is the "cyc-pedal." This controls the amount of energy produced by the cyclotrons by regulating the flow of powdered mineral fuel into the cycs. When you want their full output, you push the cyc-pedal to the floor. When you want to cut the power off, you let the cyc-pedal come clear back.

Thus, when you get warning of a meteor close ahead and want to zoom up sharply, you do two things simultaneously — you pull the space-stick sharply back, so that the power flows to the tail and rear keel rocket-tubes, and you push in hard on the cyc-pedal.

The pilot has beneath his left foot the brake-blast pedal. When this is pushed inward. It instantly directs the atomic energy of the cyclotrons into the bow or brake-tubes which project from the ship's bow for a few inches. Just beneath the fore window. Pushing in on the brake-blast pedal automatically cuts out all other tubes. To make a quick stop, you simply jam both brake-blast and cyc-pedals to the floor, which pours all the power of the cycs into a blast ahead.

These standard principles of space ship control are used by Captain Future and his companions in the Comet. They are all such consummate pilots, however, that they often ignore the convenience of the space-stick and use the individual rocket-throttles, to cut a course as close as possible.

INSTRUMENTS OF SPACE NAVIGATION

The control panel of any space ship is a bewildering sight. But that of the Comet would baffle any ordinary pilot, even if he were of Rocketeer rating. All the ordinary instruments of space navigation are on the Comet's panel — the meteorometers that warn of distance and direction of nearby meteors, the gravitometers that indicate the pull of all bodies in space, the ether-drift indicators and main cyc-switch and auxiliary televisor screen and microphone. But also, the Comet has on its panel a variety of unusual instruments.

There's the atmosphere-tester, an ingenious device of Captain Future which automatically takes in and analyzes a sample of any air. and shows the percentage of all elements in it. There's the comet-camouflage switch. When turned on, it actuates a mechanism which ejects a cloud of shining ions from all rocket-tubes, concealing the Comet and making it look like a small real comet with long, glowing tail.

There's the electroscope, one of the Brain's pet instruments, and which has done sterling service in tracking criminals in space. It's a device that can detect a recent rocket-trail of a ship in space, by the faint trail of ions always left in a rocket-discharge.

The two space chairs that flank the pilot's chair in the control room of the Comet are so mounted that their occupants can handle the two proton guns of heavy caliber which project through the walls of the ship. These weapons fire a flash of energy of unequaled range and intensity.

The main cabin of the Comet is not built for comfort. Two folding bunks in one comer are the only sleeping provisions. For neither the Brain nor Crag require any sleep, and Otho doesn't need much. Food and other perishable articles are carried in a cold-storage compartment sealed off from the rest of the cabin, and open to the bitter cold of space.

Everything in the cabin is subordinated to scientific requirements. In one corner is the powerful main televisor set, the compact atomic motor generators which can furnish auxiliary power for any undertaking, and the locker of atomic tools of all descriptions.

In an opposite corner is the compact astronomical observatory of the ship. There is a battery of electro-telescopes and electro-spectroscopes of high power. These instruments have their light-gathering lenses mounted outside the hull of the ship, and are controllable from inside so that they can be directed at any celestial object.

Light that falls on the lenses is transformed into electricity by a unique photoelectric cell, led in through a cable inside, and amplified and transformed back into a vastly magnified image. Adjacent to these instruments is a file of spectra of every planet, star and other body of importance, and there is also a collection of atmosphere samples from every world and moon in the System.

The chemical laboratory of the Comet is a concentrated mass of apparatus whose application has enabled the scientific wizard and his companions to perform those alchemical feats which have astounded the System. Beside it is the reference library, composed of every important reference and scientific book, reduced to micro-film form.

There is also a botanical cabinet, with specimens of rare plants and vegetable drugs from faraway planets; a surgical and biological corner with a folding operating-table and instruments that have often worked strange magic. There are other cabinets of instruments and specimens and materials too numerous to list.

QUEEN OF THE SPACEWAYS

In one side of the ship is the air-lock entrance. It is automatic. When the outer door is opened, the inner door automatically closes. if it is not already closed. Inside the little lock-chamber is a cabinet containing space-suits, impellers, and similar equipment.

The Comet has many other unique features. Its rocket-tubes, for instance, have special check-valves which make It possible for them to operate efficiently under water. Thus the Comet can be used as a submarine in case of emergency. Its cyclotrons are so designed that they use infinitely less powdered mineral fuel than is usual, and the mineral tanks beneath the deck which hold the supply are sufficient for extraordinarily long continuous operation.

The Comet has been in almost every comer of the Solar System. Strange beings in unknown depths of remote worlds have seen the tear-drop ship plunging across the sky, and people of the greatest civilized cities on the nine worlds have cried out in excitement as they glimpsed it zooming toward the stars. For, all over the System, the Comet is known and recognized, and those who see it know always that the Futuremen are out on the space-trail.

From Magician of Mars in Captain Future magazine summer 1941 by Edmond Hamilton

2038 Space Ship

Interestingly enough, this design actually has the theatre and dining rooms inside a huge spinning centrfuge, for artificial gravity.

  1. Pilot and Robot Control Rooms
  2. Stairway & Corridor Foyer
  3. Navigation Rooms
  4. Freight & Storage Sections
  5. Lifeboat & Launching Tube
  6. Passenger Staterooms
  7. Gymnasium & Recreation Rooms
  8. Fuel Tanks
  9. Oxy-Hydrogen Mixing Chamber
  10. Detonator Caps
  11. Major Explosion Chamber
  12. Tapered Main Rocket Tube
  13. Auxiliary Rocket Tube
  14. Engine Rooms
  15. Steering Rocket
  16. Air Conditioning Equipment
  17. Oxygenation Chamber
  18. Water Condenser Units
  19. Magnetic Gravity Rotors
  20. Theatre & Lounge
  21. Dining Rooms
  22. Gravity Main Deck Bearing
  23. Main Shaft & Elevator
  24. Auxiliary Blast Chamber
  25. Insulation Hull
  26. Atmospheric Rudders

Space Ship of the Future

  1. Flight Deck
  2. Pilot
  3. Radio Operator
  4. Astro-navigator
  5. Dinning Room
  6. Passenger Cabins
  7. Booster rockets for control and landing
  8. Atomic reaction propulsion unit
  9. Generators
  10. Fuel reserves for return journey
  11. Luggage hold
  12. Lounge
  13. Crew quarters
  14. Look-out for crew
  15. Engineer's deck

Exploring the Moon by Rocket Ship

Venus Rocket

Winged Interplanetary Spacecraft

Not too scientifically plausible spacecraft design, featured in a children's magazine. Not surprisingly it has the "Confusing-a-spaceship-with-an-airbus" fallacy. See the tiny "unmanned scout" on the ship's back? Its a remotely piloted reconnaissance drone. Isn't it cute?

Darrell Romick Ion Rocket

The Vulture

Atomic Rockets notices

This week's featured addition is Tether Propulsion

This week's featured addition is NASA Space Tug Crew Module

This week's featured addition is NASA Space Tug

Atomic Rockets

Support Atomic Rockets

Support Atomic Rockets on Patreon