KH - Starships Landing

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
June 8, 2008 - 7:21am

Once again another great topic has spawned from a thought provoking dicussion in another thread. This thread will dicuss the subject of starships (especially large hull size vessels) landing on planets and inter-atmospheric flight. Please include any house rule examples or discuss possible rule systems for a possible submission as a Frontiersman article. This topic is related to the perviously active KH topics of ADF and Perpendicular Deck Configurations but deserves its own consideration as well.

Comments:

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
June 8, 2008 - 7:41am

Please reference Pg 67 of the on-line Knight Hawks Rule Book and the sections on starship design and construction. Already suggested methods have included low gravity landings, traditional landing gear and strut assemblies, waterlandings and flotation devices. It is my opinion and interpretation of the rules that vessels hull size 5 and greater are not inter-atmospheric craft and should not land in normal earth like gravity unless it is a emergency landing, crash, mis-jump, or ditch. Large vessels could attempt landings in low gravity environments using modified docking manuvers. Most Hull Size 5 and greater vessels would be constructed in low/no gravity and launched in low/no gravity. Advances and inovations in technology such as artificial gravity, field propulsion, interita dampening, and anti-gravity could allow vessels of much larger size to land under normal gravity conditions.


Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
June 8, 2008 - 12:14pm
I think it begs the question of why you would need to land a HS 20 battleship on a planet? I saw some of the things the ship would need to preform such and operation but most left out another thing the ship would need, a heat shield. I think because of the need to shield the ship from atmosphereic friction is might be to cost prohibative to heat shield a very large ship for a planetary landing. Then if you do have anti-gravity systems you could control the speed at which the ship settles down at.

And then there can be the need for specialized large ships that are made to breech the atmosphere for whatever reasons, to provide a settlement for a colony, to rapidly put large numbers of troops on the ground, a proccessing station for mining, this can go on. But it would have to keep in mind such a ship used like this would be made as cheaply as possible as it's almost being used as a disposable lander/factory/settlement/transport. If you're landing it on hard ground it's likely to land and never move again, but the resources present must out weigh the cost of using such a ship.

Other wise if you shape a ships hull correctly I see no problems with a water landing.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

Will's picture
Will
June 9, 2008 - 1:01am
Oh,BTW, the Bebop is designed to land on water.

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
June 9, 2008 - 4:49am
good considerations. I generally assumed that all space farring vessels had some form of general all-purpose hull armor that was resistent to heat, minor impacts such as low speed bumps with other objects, ships, equipment, or cargo and protective against micro meteorites or cosmic rays/radiation. Special Hull plating for warfare such as reflective hulls would be an additional process added to the standard space hull. As far as landers, I would think any factory assemblies, atmo-processing, or colonization would be accomplished via "drop ships" or would fabricate once landed on the ground from the resources on the planet. This model would be far more effective than attempting to haul around a lot of large equipment. A colony transport could set itself in high orbit, drop equipment pods from orbit and shuttle down additional equipment and personnel. Now, the rules do specify mining ships landing on planet to conduct mining operations. I would imagine that these mining vessels would be equiped specifically with speciallized landing gear and engine assemblies for the purpose of mining. However, for really large mining vessels it would make even more sense to automate the process and have robotic mining machines extract the ore then load it on to robotic or remote operated cargo shuttles which would then take the ore to the large mothership in orbit above the planet. This would prove much safer against pirate attack. Nothing like parking your hull size 10 planet mining ship on the surface and being attacked from orbit by pirate assault scouts and frigates. It would make so much more sense to mine from orbit robotically so that if pirates arrive you could break orbit make a run for it and all you would be out is the robots left on the surface (which maybe able to be recovered later depending on the circumstances). As far as disposabe colony ships "one way tickets", yes this type of ship has been used as a plot device in many sci-fi television show from "space above and beyond" to "firefly". I think this is definitely a do-able approach but seems a little on the low rent side but would make a fine plot device, one I have used myself. 

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
June 9, 2008 - 12:32pm
Could a reason for a ship to try to land on a planet be to hide from an enemy ship in the system - possibly even flying it into a huge cave or cravasse?

Or perhaps unload wounded/cargo much more rapidly (and more dangerously) than shuttle runs?

Do ground/atmospheric scans with greater accuracy because you are in the soup or close to the ground?  Of course, this is not landing per se but close to the surface operation. 

Use the ship as some sort of temporary fortification on the ground?  I imagine some beam batteries and cannons might make for some serious firepower in a big pinch.

Here's something that is pretty cool:  a huge ship can land, but then has to be disassembled, taken up in pieces, and reassembled in orbit with the right facilities to get back out again.  That might be an option, if the campaign has time (probably 20+ days for the whole operation.)

I agree with the consensus around here that it is a dangerous proposition.  Not an optimal choice.

It also makes for something of an argument for a parallel deck - especially the water example that someone mentioned.

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
June 10, 2008 - 12:09am
This reminds me of the Firefly series which I believe that ship had two different engines, one to land on a planet (engine mounts swivelled) and a main engine for propulsion in-system.

Or most/all SF ships simply land "butt first".



Will's picture
Will
June 10, 2008 - 1:09am

Yeah, Serenity had two different sets of engines, one for space, the other for atmo.

ImpLord wrote:
Could a reason for a ship to try to land on a planet be to hide from an enemy ship in the system - possibly even flying it into a huge cave or cravasse?


Or even the maw of a space monster.....

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

umungus's picture
umungus
June 10, 2008 - 11:39am

With smaller ships they have the power and/ or aerodynamics for interface flight. They have a proportionate amount of structure dedicated for this.
Maybe have that be the limiting factor for all ships. The larger ones need to have a propotionate amount of engines and structure dedicated to atmospheric flight.  By the time you get enough power and aerodynamics to the larger craft it makes it prohibitively expensive to build one.
Just an idea.

At least I got to scare an alien rabbit thingy......


Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
June 10, 2008 - 11:45am
Eureka!

How about this:

An optional Planet Surface Landing Module that increases with cost greatly as the ship gets bigger!

If you have the Module, it pops out and deploys and does its thang and you land (and can take off) just fine.  If you don't, the best you can do is crash-land safely and never take off again.

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
June 10, 2008 - 1:31pm
It's not the moving through the atmosphere part that I see as the problem. It's the structural engineering of sitting on the ground.

Any ship with atomic engines and an ADF greater than the gravity of the world has the engine power to both land and take off and do it as slowly as they would like. You may not be able to get involved in a dog fight but you would be able to drop straight down to a designated landing site. You simply get into orbit and then use your main engines to get into a geostationary trajectory and then settle down into the atmosphere using your main engines to counteract the gravitational force and settle down at whatever rate you want. If you are patient you can go slow enough that heat shields won't matter. It takes a lot of power and you will make a mess of your landing site but you can get down in a controlled manner. It's just the reverse of what is described on p31-32 of the KH Campaign book. As it says about Atomic drives "Because of their virtually unlimited power, a ship with atomic engines can lift off at any speed the pilot wants." The same would be true in reverse. They can land at any speed they want as well.

Once you get to the ground, however, you have to have something that will support the entire weight of your ship. Otherwise your ship will break or fall over into an attitude that precludes taking off again. This is the reason I think that the larger ships don't land. Since the canon rules state perpendicular decks, the ship would have to be standing on its end. An Assault Scout is 50m long. That's roughly 165 ft or about a 17 story building (Remember the Space Shuttle Orbiter is only a HS 2 KH ship). A HS 5 frigate would be 100m tall (That's the size of the Saturn V rocket that sent the Apollo astronauts to the moon) roughly the equivalent of a 35 story building. It's keeping those things stable on the ground and supporting their weight that makes landing the larger ships improbable, not engine power to get them in an out of the atmosphere or even aerodynamics.

Just to give an idea of the weight you'd have to support, assuming 1g surface gravity and an average density of the ships of 2 g/cm^3, an average HS 3 ship ways about 3300 tons. A HS 5 ship would weigh about 39,000 tons. I'm not a structural engineer so someone else can weigh in on how you would support all of that weight effectively off the ground (you don't want your engines in the dirt Smile). I'm sure it could be done, I just don't see the need. As has been said before, that's what shuttles are for.
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umungus's picture
umungus
June 10, 2008 - 1:46pm
So, landing is inevitable. Taking off is the hard part.... hehehe

At least I got to scare an alien rabbit thingy......


Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 13, 2008 - 11:30am

As I mentioned in the other thread...I permit any ship up to HS:5 to land if designed as such from the start. However, I think I may ammend my house rule of adding 10% to the hull cost for streamlining to include heat shielding, and raise that up to 25 or even 50% (re: HS x 75,000Cr for +50%).


As far as the deck arrangements go, I can only say this: first and foremost it's a space ship so it should be designed and laid out as such. The simple truth is it will spend the bulk of its time in space, and its crew will have to depend on artificial gravity. Hence, decks-perpendicular is preferred although will complicate things on the ground, unless you throw in some specialized mods like rotating gimbal decks and carefully constructed accessways. Check out a HS:4 light freighter I have here:

http://gullwind.20m.com/photo3.html

Of course decks parallel is preferred for ground landings, but then a lot has to take effect for space travel in such artificial gravity generator systems (gravitics, inertial compensators, whatever you want to call it). My house rules for such systems calls for no more than ADF/MR:1 operation for the system to work, otherwise it shuts down for combat maneuvers. Even so, it will be working overtime compared to the zero energy draw of a decks perpendicular plan, so that would have to be taken into consideration somehow (I didn't when I drafted my house rule...another ammendment LOL). Perhaps a penalty of requiring extra time to charge up weapon, drive, and/or maneuver systems when in use?

I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
June 13, 2008 - 7:20pm
I've been trying to visualise the idea of rotating gimbal decks, and all I can see is a ship with several sphere sections inside it on a gimbal mountings. Easy deck plans just make a few spheres and their decks. Only question is about the elevator you have to store it when landed, this would make stairwells between decks a must within each sphere section. And a side door lined up between the sections along a central corridor.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 14, 2008 - 8:12am
If you note the Akyna deckplans, the gimbal mounted portions have a dashed line acorss the rotating axis point. The "top" sections rotate "downwards" into the deck so the backs are situated aft when in atmospheric flight mode.

Sargonarhes wrote:
Only question is about the elevator you have to store it when landed, this would make stairwells between decks a must within each sphere section. And a side door lined up between the sections along a central corridor.


Yep, another issue to contend with. Which is why on the Akyna the central access is a simple ladderwell. Climb up and down while in space, walk fore and aft on the ground.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Will's picture
Will
June 15, 2008 - 10:39am
Reference the MechWarrior novels for examples of aerodyne ships that have this type of deck layout

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."


—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
September 17, 2009 - 9:31pm
I had one of our Destoyers attempt a "controlled landing" on a earth like gravity planet, and we lost track of them during the procedure, when our long range scanners acquired the LZ, well we're dispatching rescue and salvage crews, it wasn't pretty. Back to the drawing board

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
June 16, 2008 - 3:22pm
Exactly!  I love it.  Nice pic.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
June 16, 2008 - 6:04pm
Oh man I loled.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
June 16, 2008 - 6:09pm

One of our scouts got this pic from the front of the crash scene


Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
June 17, 2008 - 7:10am
Ouch!

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
September 17, 2009 - 9:34pm

Long range sensor scans indicate structural instability of space hull under standard gravity coupled with sheering forces of impact resulted in catastrophic hull failure. Recommendations: test results conclude that Chimera Class Destroyers manufactured by Wolf Industrial Shipyards will require significant hull modification for controlled atmospheric landings. Further findings suggest that should a planet fall event occur all personnel should evacuate vessel either prior to orbital insertion or after atmospheric penetration via escape pods or emergency landing craft. End Transmission.


Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
June 17, 2008 - 9:51am
Long range sensor scans indicate structural instability of space hull under standard gravity coupled with sheering forces of impact resulted in catastrophic hull failure. Recommendations: test results conclude that Chimera Class Destroyers manufactured by Wolf Industrial Shipyards will require significant hull modification for controlled atmospheric landings. Further findings suggest that should a planet fall event occur all personnel should evacuate vessel either prior to orbital insertion or after atmospheric penetration via escape pods or emergency landing craft. End Transmission.

TRANSLATION:
Use a friggin' shuttle next time!  LMAO

Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
June 17, 2008 - 10:11am
Seriously though, I like the gimbal deck idea...

At first it seemed a little bit difficult to build and control, but after some thought it actually makes perfect sense.  And it is cool - which to me is the most important consideration of them all.

Keep in mind that such an arrangement would not have to be within a spherical hull section - only the deck itself would need to be contained in that sort of pod.  In fact, you would probably NOT want the hull section to be spherical - the moving parts of the gimbal would be vulnerable to battle damage and wear and tear, and you would want crawl spaces around the gimbal deck to perform repairs.  There would also be the opportunity for (limited) storage space to be provided around the gimbal deck in those crawl spaces.  They could also be bigger than crawl spaces, as well - essentially a space between the deck and the hull.

AND - again most importantly, crawl spaces are cool!  All manner of critters and boarding operations could revolve around controlling these spaces.  Imagine an "Aliens" type scenario where you have to dig out some critters from the gimbal deck repair spaces?  Or cutting through the floor of the gimbal deck with a Laser Power Torch and attacking the bridge from below?  Very cool.

The gimbal deck also solves this whole gravity problem situation that we have been vexxing over for these past weeks! 

I'm feeling it.

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
June 17, 2008 - 10:55am
I do some gimbaling decks as well. I am working on desiging a small (HS 2) ship that may be appearing in my upcoming campaign that features at least a gimbaling bridge deck along with other features for atmospheric flight. I've had the ship designed in my mind for years and years and am finally working out the details of the deck plans and deck arrangements.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
June 17, 2008 - 3:07pm
30 days after the Chimera class destroyer crash...salvage teams peeled away everything but the framework!

I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Sargonarhes's picture
Sargonarhes
June 17, 2008 - 3:50pm
I've noticed Imperial Lord, most people don't think of crawl space when making a deck plan for their ships.  Then they also don't think about the hull structure either. Just thinking of all this stuff, what kind of adavnce ship are we going to come up with now?
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

Gilbert's picture
Gilbert
June 17, 2008 - 4:51pm
  In our game we call it the Utility Deck (UD) or better known by the players as "the Ugly Deck."

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
June 17, 2008 - 7:07pm
Love it shadow shack, actually the hull frame does look very similar to my Chimera Class design. thanks for the post.

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
June 17, 2008 - 7:16pm
I think you still could use crawl spaces with gimbal decks, think of it like the moving pyramid configurations in the AVP movies, Crawl spaces would have sealing doors when not in position and alternate routes when the deck was gimballed into another position, maybe even some interconnecting crawlspaces with ladders and such, perpendicular to thrust axis of course, lol. As far as gimbals being vulnerable to attack, well that would make for some interesting game play wouldnt it? Roll (?) and the gimbal malfunctions all crew not strapped could be subject to injury or take negative modifiers on all attempted tasks (muhuhahhaahaha).

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
June 17, 2008 - 7:26pm
New Wolf Enterprises Promotional Ad:

Deep Space Salvage and Recovery Team: 1.5 million credits
Fuel, Supplies, Preparations: 545,000 credits
Event Management & Logisitics: 347,000 credits
Environmental Clean-Up 1.2 Million Credits

Crashing a Multi-billion credit starship into a planet, just to see what happens: PRICELESS

No Humans, Dralasites, Yazarizans, Vrusk, Furry Animals, or Aliens were injured during this test, Robots on the other hand (well, em, uh, er, um.......) Sorry Woot hope their weren't any, well you known, on-board for this test run.