The Human Spaceships come in various categories defined by their size. Depending on their size, ships need support from other ships regarding combat or transport.
Combat Support Ships
This category describes small or even tiny ships with usually only one or two pilots. Fighters and bombers of all kind belong to this category. The ships do not have artificial gravity and only limited energy and life support. Sensor range and weapon systems are limited and often require support from a larger ship. Turrets can not be mounted on these ships. Also interplanetary travel is not possible with these ships since they don't have enough energy to reach the required speeds for a quick and easy travel. Some models support atmospheric flight.
Most larger ships have docking bays or clamps for combat support from where they can launch fighters or bombers.
Fighters are very agile spaceships used for dog-fights against other fighters or bombers. Most energy will go into shields and weapons. Their weapons are the weakest among all the ships, but the fighters agility helps to avoid direct hits and instead perform surgical strikes against an enemy. They can also be used to scout an area or to target very specific systems or larger ships. In general however they are used in combat to protect a larger ship or space station from approaching enemies or to launch an attack in combination with bombers.
Bombers are small not so agile spaceships used to hold large bombs. They are used to target larger ships like transporters or even space stations. Their weaponry is stronger and can be used to weaken a larger ships defenses like turrets or other anti-bomb measures. The bombers task is to approach a large ship as close as possible and deploy a bomb that destroys the enemies systems or hull massively. Since a Bomber is not very agile and is often the target of enemy fighters, they are usually escorted by one or two squad of fighters.
Small Independent Ships
Small independent ships usually have a small crew of two to 6 people and are the kind of ship that comes in all kind of variations. Some of these models can be used for interplanetary travel if they are equipped with the right kind of engine. However most mercenaries and other independent people in space own such a ship. The purpose of the ship does not have to be combat, but depending on the danger level of the place they are used at, they have some kind of weaponry anyway.
Atmosphere Flight Simulator
The Atmosphere Flight Simulator (or AFS) is a flight system, present in all modern spaceships. Only the first generation of spaceships had no such system integrated in their basic flight systems.
As the run for space demanded a lot of pilots being able to fly the sheer mass of newly built spaceships, there were simply not enough fully educated astronauts available. Engineers have therefore developed a system with which a spaceship in free space behaves similar to a small plane in the atmosphere. With this flight system any normal pilot could fly a spaceship after a short period of retraining. Those systems are still in place after many decades, because they proved to be very handy and many pilots have not even tried to fly without them. Skilled fighter pilots however are required to learn to fly without it. They learn to temporarily disable parts of the AFS or the whole system to allow them to perform risky maneuvers giving them the upper hand in combat. In fact it is pretty dangerous to disable and restart the AFS mid-flight as it can be a strain on the spaceships hull. There have been several bad accidents with disabled AFS so that the flight system can usually not been turned off.
Flying with the AFS uses more energy because control jets all over the spaceships need to stabilize the spaceship to give the impression to fly in an atmosphere. There are also things like maximum flight speed and other kinds of restrictions in place which are helpful to the beginner pilot, but bothersome for the skilled one.
The AFS is installed in small and middle size spaceships and controls the flight controls, navigation, sensors and weapons. They have 4 stages indicated with colors, which give increasing control to the pilot during flight. The meaning of these stages are explained here.
In Stage Blue the AFS controls the whole ship and the pilot is not really necessary. Maneuvers such as staying in orbit around a planet, flying in formation, docking at a space station and interplanetary travel are mostly done in this stage. Also some basic evasion are performed so the pilot does not need to do much. The ship can not be controlled directly, but only indirectly by changing way-points or targets to dock on etc. Weapons are deactivated in Stage Blue. Direct controls are ignored by the autopilot, however in certain unforeseen situations like attacks or difficult maneuvering the pilot is alerted of the potential danger and the autopilot switches to Stage Green.
In Stage Green the autopilot simulates atmospheric flight for the pilot, with the exception of gravity. The pilot has direct control over thrust, maneuvering and weapons. Most activities that require the attention of the pilot are done in Stage Green. The autopilot keeps the ship in orbit and limits the relative speed of the spaceship limited. If there are speed limitations enforced by nearby space stations the autopilot makes sure that they are not broken.
There is a transitional stage between Blue and Green, where the spaceship flies in Stage Blue as long as the pilot does not touch the controls. This is used when the pilot has to suddenly react to a situation that requires him to cancel the maneuver and do something else.
This stage is not available in most spaceships. In Stage Orange certain limitations by the autopilot are deactivated and the pilot is given more control over the ship. Speed limitations and maneuverability can be temporarily exceeded which is beneficial in combat, but also dangerous to the pilot and the space ship. Stage Orange spaceships usually belong to the military. Combat pilots are only allowed to use Stage Orange in combat or in emergencies.
Of course the autopilot can be overwritten and changed into Stage Orange, even in non-military vessels. However this is a criminal offense and will be punished if found out.
Stage Red / OFF
In Stage Red the autopilot is turned off or in stand by. The pilot is given full control over every instrument. Flying in this stage is extremely dangerous, because there is nothing that holds the spaceship in orbit or limits acceleration and forces on the pilot or the spaceship. A ship that is flying in Stage Red can be easily damaged on it's own.
In the early 21st century, scientists at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland have found the source of gravitation in an experiment with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). They were able to simulate strong gravitational forces without the presence of large masses. As this technology has been refined and commercialized over the years, newer spaceships and space stations could afford to use it to build artificial floors without having to rely on centrifugal forces as artificial gravity. Newer spaceships and space station are therefore not built like cones or cylinders, but rather like planes or houses.
Artificial gravity floors create a directed gravity field that can be switched on and off. The technology requires energy and belongs to one of the less important life support systems. Small spaceships like fighters and bombers have no artificial gravity, because the pilot does not move around in the ship.
Because humanity's spaceships are not very fast, traveling between planets (basically between Earth, Mars and Jupiter) takes a very long time. To reduce travel time, most people travel only between planets when they are aligned with the sun and the distance between them has reached a minimum.
However the planets don't align very often, so in the time people travel, companies also ship their goods between the planets. The societies living on and around each planet are not totally independent of the economies of the other planets, but the rare contact forces them to seize the opportunity once the planets come closer.
There are basically three main categories of weapons: Projectile weapons, laser/energy weapons, disruptor weapons. The three categories all come with advantages and disadvantages and can be combined to make up for the disadvantages.
This means that all weapons cause three different kinds of damage: Physical, energy and disruptor damage.
A projectile weapon shoots a mass (a projectile) with large speed towards its target. The mass is designed to damage the target's structure significantly on impact. The size of the weapon and projectile vary from handheld devices to large mass drivers on battle ships. The means to propel the projectile can be a small explosion, but also a strong magnetic field when the projectile is magnetic.
Depending on the target different ammunition cause different amount of damage.
Projectile weapons don't do damage on energy shields. They usually penetrate the shields without problems. Only magnetic projectiles may be slowed down or redirected slightly.
Everything we know nowadays. Small pistols to large assault rifles exist in the realm of Orxonox. Their damage to structures, armor plates and flesh is significant, depending on the design of the projectile. The projectile weapon is used most in combat with handheld weapons.
Mounted on Spaceship
Projectile weapons use ammunition, which is heavy and therefore often limited in space. The damage on the hull of a spaceship however is significant. The fire rate of such a weapon can be up to 3000 RPM when it's cooled.
Turret on Battle Ship
Usually projectile weapons on turrets are used to fight slower targets. Very large mass drivers can be used to attack space stations or even targets on a moon's or planet's surface from space.
Laser weapons release a burst of high energy that heats up the target significantly and melts it in the process. While the damage to the hull is not as bad as with projectile weapons, a laser weapon doesn't need ammunition and can fire with a higher rate. Since the laser emitter overheats quickly in normal environments the laser is designed to emit rapid pulses instead of a continues stream.
Another disadvantage of the laser is it's loss of energy when travelling far distances.
To make up for these disadvantages there is a subcategory of particle stream weapons that use subatomic particles with the energy released by the laser to make additional physical damage on impact.
The best defense against laser and energy weapons is a super-conductive overlay (SCO), which absorbs most of the energy of the beam without causing damage to the hull.
Handheld laser devices are available and cause instant damage to all kinds of materials. Human flesh is burnt away while metals and stone melts and loses structural integrity. Lasers also find uses as mining equipment and tools in general. In these cases they are rather ineffective as a lethal weapon, but they can injure people badly.
Mounted on Spaceship
Laser and energy weapons are the favorite weapon for space ships. The high fire rate and the speed of the particles are more suitable over large distances and in chaotic combat situations. The fire rate is adjustable so the connected weapon capacitor isn't depleted by accident. Some models may also trade fire power for fire rate.
Turret on Battle ship
Very strong particle beams can only be mounted on large battle cruisers. However their use against small ships is questionable, because they may damage ships beyond the target. Against large ships big energy weapons are very effective to damage certain parts of the ship to render the ship immobile or defenseless.
A disruptor is a new weapon developed only recently. This is why only military space ships and a couple of pirates use it to fight in space. The disruptor weapon releases a beam that cancels the bonds between atoms of all structures. The required energy to rip those bonds apart is extremely high, which is the reason why only larger ships can provide the necessary energy to use the weapon.
Against disruptor fire shields are the only means to defend against. Shields nullify disruptor beams effectively, protecting the hull of a ship from falling apart after just a few hits.
There are no disruptor guns that are small enough to be carried around with.
Mounted on Spaceship
A disruptor cannon uses a lot of energy and the space ship has to have a weapon capacitor that can store enough energy for a shot. The fire rate depends on the speed the weapon capacitor is filled again with charge.
Turret on Battle Ship
Since battle ships are large enough and produce enough energy disruptor turrets are very effective against smaller and faster targets, because the disruptor beam is much faster than a bullet from a projectile weapon.
This is why disruptor weapons are mostly seen as turrets on battle cruisers.
Ships have various means to protect themselves against attackers. Not all means work against all dangers equally well.
The hull of a spaceship is built to withstand impacts of asteroids, space junk and projectile weapons. If the hull is damaged certain systems might fail and in extreme cases cause an explosion within the power reactor of the ship. Hull breaches caused by heavy damage lead to loss of pressure in cockpit and other parts of a spaceship where life support is provided. This is one of the reasons that fighter pilots always wear a lightweight space suit in order to protect them from the loss of pressure and provide them with necessary oxygen and warmth.
The hull is susceptible to energy weapons and especially to disruptor beams.
Super Conductive Overlay (SCO)
The super conductive overlay is put on a spaceship's hull and does not change its looks significantly. The SCO provides additional protection to the hull against energy weapons. It cannot be destroyed, but fails, when the hull is damaged significantly. Repairs on the hull are more complicated when there is a SCO.
In order to protect the hull, the SCO relays the energy of a particle or laser beam to a capacitor inside the ship. It practically absorbs a certain percentage of of the beams energy which can then be used to power other parts of the ship. If the SCO capacitor is fully charged, the SCO can no longer absorb any energy and the damage dealt by energy weapons will not be redirected any longer.
Energy shields consist of ionized gases kept around a spaceship by the means of a weak magnetic field. The magnetic field is controlled by the shield generator and so is the ionization of the gas.
Due to its complexity an energy shield can only be spanned around small spaceships. It has not yet been possible to create a reliable energy shield around battle cruisers.
Also during high acceleration and deceleration phases the shield becomes temporarily ineffective due to inertia.
Energy shields are used to protect mainly against disruptor weapons, which beam can damage a spaceship's hull significantly. A disruptor beam is nearly nullified by a strong energy shield. However the shield needs to recharge after a couple of hits as the absorption of a disruptor beam deals damage to the ionized gas.
Following table shows qualitative measures of how much damage a certain category of weapon deals to a certain kind of protection.
|Hull w/o SCO||Hull w/ SCO||Energy Shield|
|Laser / Particle||medium||low||none|
This table shows qualitative measures of how much protection a certain category of armor gives against a certain kind of weapon.
|Hull w/o SCO||Hull w/ SCO||Energy Shield|
|Laser / Particle||low||high||none|
|Disruptor||very low||very low||very high|