Orion's Arm spaceships to scale
Image from Steve Bowers
Some examples of famous spaceships from Orion's Arm to scale 1 pixel= ten metres

Without interstellar ships there could be no galactic civilization. Information transfer through light-speed links and nanoguage wormhole alone are not enough to bind the Civilized Galaxy together; physical transport by spaceship is also necessary. The type of ship design, function, and drive of interstellar transports have varied greatly throughout history and among the different polities, clades, cultures, and societies, but all have served a vital purpose. Nothing symbolizes Terragen civilization as perfectly as the Ship.

Ship Main (Isis)
Image from Copyright Kevin Williams
  • Barnard Banger  - Text by Mike Miller
    Interstellar craft transporting volatiles to distant systems.
  • Boostbeam  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Mass-beam based system used to accelerate or decelerate spacecraft without the use of onboard reaction mass.
  • Cargo Ships  - Text by Steve Bowers and Damon Court
    Freighter spacecraft.
  • Chillers  - Text by John B
    Chillers are a family of technologies used to reduce ship temperature (and, hence, IR radiation) to the background level.
  • Colony Ships  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Terragens, and in the past some xenosophonts, have used a number of different kinds of strategies to establish colonies across interstellar distances. The resulting ships range from gigantic and slow generation ships to much smaller data-only ships.
  • Corvette  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A military warship of fairly small size, cheaper and more lightly armed than a destroyer, usually used for fleet or convoy escort, or for showing the flag or gunboat diplomacy in a smaller polity.
  • CPNC Civilization Ships, The  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A massive ship holding vast amounts of data; originally designed as a protection against the collapse of civilisation.
  • Creightership  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, modified from original concept by Kevin Self
    Slang term for Vedokiklek interstellar sub-relativistic (rarely relativistic) freighters (Klhkkteskkdv in the Vedokiklek language.
  • Cruiser  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A large (generally, over 100,000 tonnes), fast, heavily armed reactionless drive warship capable of both independent operations and of support of the main line of battle.
  • Cycler  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A cycler is a ship or mobile habitat that travels continuously along an orbit or interstellar route in such a way that it makes a regular series of rendezvous with other stations, orbitals, planets, or stars along the way. Cyclers may be small or large, sparse or luxurious, slow or fast. They may be interplanetary (also called an Aldrin Cycler) or interstellar (also called a Schroeder Cycler), and may be completely passive (simple ballistic orbit) or may have course-correction drive units.
  • Dreadnought (ship)  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A Capital Ship of the largest scale (term now rarely used).
  • Explorer Class  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Long range, rugged and reliable self-repairing amat-powered exploration vessel used during the First Federation period. Some remained in service as late as the age of Expansion, and even today Explorer Class vessels little different from the original design are popular among many minor and independent clades, especially in the outer volumes.
  • Generation Ship  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Huge, slow, self-contained interstellar ships taking more than one lifetime to arrive.
  • Grapeships  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Grapeships are the most common wormhole nexus passenger and cargo liners in the Inner Sphere and along the main wormhole routes. The ship consists of a "stem" onto which bulbous shuttles are attached (giving them their name due to their similarity to grape bunches).
  • Gravity Tug  - Text by Alex Mulvey and Steve Bowers
    A method for moving an object such as an asteroid without touching it, using the gravity and thrust from a spacecraft.
  • Interstellar Singleship  - Text by ROM 65536
    A small, light duty interstellar craft that can be operated for long periods of time by a single individual.
  • Landers  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Craft designed to land on a planet; usually a secondary craft or module attached to or carried by a larger interplanetary or interstellar craft
  • Magnetic Drive Sails  - Text by Todd Drashner and Steve Bowers
    Reconfigurable superconducting loop structures used to accelerate and decelerate spacecraft.
  • Museum Ship  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Peripatetic curatorial sentient ships acquiring collections of objects, arranged along scientific or aesthetic lines, late Expansion period to present.
  • Muuh Iceship  - Text by Steve Bowers
    An interstellar spacecraft created by the Muuh from an icy object such as a comet.
  • Nullship  - Text by Liam Jones
    Virtual 'ships' that travel the Lightways carrying virtual sophonts
  • Pacman Miner  - Text by James Ramsay and Steve Bowers
    Asteroid Mining Ships.
  • Plasma Magnet Drive  - Text by Tardigrada
    The plasma magnet uses a low mass generator to produce large-scale magnetic fields. This is useful for various applications, most notably in spacecraft propulsion in the form of the plasma magnet drive(PMD).
  • Propulsion Performance Statistics   - Text by Mauk Mcamuk and Chris Shaeffer
    Statistics for various kinds of Propulsion Technology used in the Orion Arm
  • Scoopships  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Atmospheric Resource Collection
  • Scout Ship  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A small, long-range relativistic exploration vessel, almost always conversion or reactionless drive propelled, equipped and designed for extended relativistic travel, with excellent shielding, and generally some measure of self-repair (but not self-replication) faculties.
  • Seedship  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Interstellar vessel carrying embryos, gametes or digitised DNA in order to raise humans or other modosophonts on arrival using robotic parents.
  • Sensors for use in Space Combat and Defence  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Active and Passive sensors for space warfare and defence.
  • Sentient Ships  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Interplanetary or interstellar vessels that are aware and may be quite intelligent but, like robots or animals, do not have the full suite of faculties that characterize sophonts.
  • Ship Design: Shielding  - Text by (Original article by M. Alan Kazlev, Mauk Mcamuk, Chris Shaeffer, suggestions by Anders Sandberg and Xaonon)
    Protection against radiation and particle collision during interstellar flight.
  • Ship Style and Decoration  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Anders Sandberg; additions by Steve Bowers
    Among the different interstellar empires and colonies, ship design and outer decoration varies widely.
  • Shipyards and Spacecraft Repair Facilities  - Text by Ryan B, Todd Drashner, rom65536, Steve Bowers
    Shipbuilding and spacecraft repair facilities.
  • Solar Moth  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Solar Thermal Rockets use sunlight to heat propellant.
  • Space Hulks  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Deserted shipwrecks in deep space, some becoming habitats for hider clades.
  • Subrelativistic - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Pertains to any interstellar ship, fleet, cargo pellet, or other object travelling at a reasonably slow rate (say 0.01 to 0.1 c) so that time-dilation and other relativistic effects do not become evident. Subrelativistic vessels may take centuries to bridge the gap between even nearby stars.
  • Sun Scutter - Solar Thermal Bioship  - Text by Rhea47
    The Sun Scutter is a type of low speed interplanetary bioship powered by a solar thermal rocket.
  • System Control Ship  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Massive relativistic warship used for controlling or occupation of colonies or solar systems at interstellar distances.
  • Worldship  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Huge nomadic interstellar ship, typically moving at 0.01 to 0.1 c, where relativistic effects are unimportant.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 25 June 2000.

Additional Information