Interplanetary Express Courier "Ball Lightning"

Filling a niche in-between the corporate yachts and the regular passenger liners are the Express Couriers. Sacrificing some comfort for speed these can make the Earth to Mars run in around 3 weeks (depending on planetary alignment). Built to be light and fast they are capable of outperforming most military craft, avoiding trouble easily, though they are only minimally armored and armed.

They are built on a 50 ft diameter sphere hull, as this minimises surface area and hence armor mass. There is no spin gravity though they typically maintain acceleration micro-gravity for some comfort during the "coast" phase of the trip. Their minimal armor means that radiation protection is low. Instead these craft depending on raw speed - minimising time in space and anti-radiation nano.

Ticket prices are around 5 times those for regular space passage (TS p172).


Design: 50ft diameter Sphere Hull (125 spaces, nanocomposite, light frame); cDR/cPF 1/1 (nanocomposite armor). Hull radiators 7.5 ksf, radiator wings 5 ksf (50ft square).

Modules: New basic bridge, medium PESA, medium Radar, small Ladar, 25 HI Fusion Pulse drive, 54 Light Fuel Tank (nuclear pellets), 2.5 MJ light laser tower, 15 cabin, 6 luxury cabin, 5 Cargo hold (25 tons), small entry module, large entry module, 0.5 Hall, lab, surgery, minifac workshop.

Typical Payload: 6 crew, 12-24 normal passengers, 6 to 12 luxury passengers, 5 spaces of Cargo, 1000 man days provisions

Statistics: Lmass 949.0, Emass 270.8, Dry Mass 301.0, Cmass 625.0, Payload 30.1, Cost $M 40, cHP 59, Size mod 6, Radiator size mod 6, Maintenance 30.4 hours per day.

Performance: Loaded sAccell 0.11 G, Empty sAccell 0.37 G, Dry sAccell 0.33 G, Combat sAccell 0.16 G, Realistic Combat sAccell 0.17 G, Cruising Velocity 10.4 days per AU (0.096 AU per day), Delta-V (with turnover) 95 mps, Realistic Delta-V 103 mps, Burn Endurance 54 hours, Burn points 3110.

Trip Data: Trip Distance 2 AU (Earth-Mars), Trip Time (orbit to orbit) 21 days, Trip costs: Nuclear Pellets $324,000. Provisions $6,000


Transhuman Space Index