Areon News - Islandia Express Launched

This week sees the launch of the "Islandia Express" passenger service using the first production model of Vosper-Babbage's "Void Skimmer" passenger shuttle. Capable of making the Earth-Islandia run in less than 9 hours it is hailed as a major speed breakthrough that makes Earth-L4 travel as fast as intercontinental travel on Earth. Twice as fast as existing Earth-Lunar shuttles the service caters for the premium end of the burgeoning mass transit market between Earth orbit, Lunar orbit and L4.

Our reporter joined the chairman of both Vosper Babbage and Islandia Space Lines on its maiden voyage from Islandia in L4 to Von Braun station in low-Earth-orbit.

Islandia Space Lines: "With the Olympus project well underway the expected growth in demand for rapid transit between Earth, Lunar and L4 is huge. Providing our customers with what they want before anyone else reinforces our position as the premier passenger carrier in Trans-Lunar space. We also take the comfort and safety of our passengers very seriously indeed as you can see from the generously appointed interior."

Vosper Babbage: "The Void Skimmer was a concept craft we had on the drawing board for the military market. When we were approached by ISL about an express passenger shuttle the synergy was obvious. Our close location to Islandia meant that we could closely collaborate in person at all stages of development leading to a much better final product. We are already working together to design the second generation of rapid transit shuttles."

The voyage itself is something of an eye-opener. On existing shuttles there is the gentle pull of micro-gravity. On the Islandia Express you are pinned to your seat! Acceleration exceeds lunar standard gravity during the trip and it goes on for hours at a time which takes some getting used to.

Time is money, and this is reflected in the ticket prices. A seat costs $2,000, many times as much as existing shuttles. Industry watchers say prices will drop once competitors enter the market.

Detractors point to the much larger fuel load, higher running costs & the infrastructure required compared to existing shuttles. One shuttle operator commented that "This is a charter for the big carriers to edge out the smaller independent carriers."

Preservationist groups have also criticised the new shuttle: "Existing shuttles make frugal use of water refined from captured ice asteroids. These shuttles burn three times as much fuel in a profligate way. How is this a step forward?"

Islandia Express "Lady of Leisure":

From the drive bell dominating the rear of the craft and with every spare inch of hull covered in radiator panels it is obvious to look at that this craft means business. The hull material also says speed as it is made of an Advanced Laminate which is more commonly seen on military vessels. Other than that the dimensions are similar in dimensions to standard passenger shuttles. A standard cylindrical design, approximately 45 feet long by 15 feet in diameter.

Inside the craft says luxury, with high standard of fittings throughout. The craft significantly exceeds the latest safety standards.


Front Hull Systems

Central Hull Systems

Rear Hull Systems

TL9, dST/HP 20, Hnd/SR -1/4, HT 12, Move 0.18G/25.2 mps, LWt. 30, Load 0.7, SM +5, Occ 1+6SV, dDR 5/0/0/, Range 0, $2.04M

PILOTING/TL10 (Low-Performance Spacecraft)

Earth-Lunar/L4/L5 Travel Time: 8.5 hours

Economics: Assumes 2 trips per day, 700 trips per year. Breakeven with 90% passenger load approximately $230 per standard passenger. Suggested ticket price $2000 per standard passenger to reflect this premium service.

Transhuman Space Index