Express Rock class Mail Drone

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Express Rock class Mail Drone
Wiki Navy.png
Mailbearers of the Apocalypse
Type: XC Courier Vessel
Agility 0
Also see Courier Vessel - X-mail
Architect Adrian Tymes
Blueprint Yes
Canon No. Unpublished, non-canon fan smallcraft design.
Cargo 15.4 Tons
Cost MCr40.615. MCr36.5535 in quantity.
Crew 0
Enlisted 0
Officers 0
EOS Examples still operate post-Collapse
Era Third Imperium
Hardpoints 1
Hull Planetoid Hull
Illustration No
IOC 724
Jump J-2
Maneuver 0 G
Manufacturer GeDeCo
Marines 0
Model Model/5 bis
Origin [[GeDeCo]]
Passengers 0 High/Med 0 Low
QSP XC-AP02
Reference EXTERNAL LINK: MGT Forums
Size 100 Tons
Size-cat ACS
Streamlining Unstreamlined Hull
Tech Level TL–11
USP XC-B1820P
Designed with Mongoose Traveller High Guard rules, but portable to other versions.

The Express Rock class Mail Drone is a starship Courier Vessel.

Description (Specifications)[edit]

The Express Rock is a knockoff of the Third Imperium's famed Express Boat, built for and operated by smaller polities with less space to cover but still needing to get the mail through. It is a simple, automated drone, heading along pre-programmed 3 or 4 parsec routes. Sometimes these are Jump-1 circuits, sometimes a one-way double Jump-2, but most often a back-and-forth Jump-2. It aims to come out of jumpspace just over 100 diameters from its target, as without maneuver drive, it must be able to jump back out after drifting while plotting the next jump. It powers its jumps from batteries, recharged by shutting off running lights and sensors for four days after entering jump space (making sure to turn them back on well before the earliest possible breakout).

Every X-Boat stop in the Third Imperium might be able to support a tender, but not every stop in smaller polities can, so the Express Rock only requires a tender at the end of its route. If there is a tender, the Express Rock will exchange mail, dock, refuel, submit to maintenance if needed, take on cargo if there is any, then leave. If not, it will simply exchange mail (if it can establish radio communications - else, it notes this failure and informs the next tender it meets, which will then request the polity send someone to investigate; this has brought rescue to many failing colonies that found themselves otherwise unable to get word out), deposit in orbit any cargo marked for this destination (expelling it via its loading belt: an internal series of conveyor belts), and be on its way.

That an Express Rock can safely enter jumpspace without crew is a rare feat of engineering. Most analyses of the design have attributed this to a side-effect of the code being designed for extreme simplicity and robustness (to a degree that most design bureaus officially find impractical even when trying to replicate this effect; unofficially, it is widely suspected that most design bureaus are simply unable to replicate this effort), which was originally done to allow TL-12 software to run on a TL-11 ship's computer. This also makes the ship's computer difficult to reuse for other functions (or other classes of ship); for instance, all attempts to adapt the code to operate a maneuver drive (attached to the ship in place of some of the cargo space) have failed. Likewise, if encryption is desired, that must run on separate hardware (usually in the mail distribution array) from the main ship's computer.

Image Repository[edit]

Not available at this time.

General Description & Deck Plans[edit]

  1. Deck Plans for this vessel.
    1 express rock deckplans.png

Basic Ship Characteristics[edit]

Following the Imperial Navy and IISS Universal Ship Profile and data, additional information is presented in the format shown here [1]

Basic Ship Characteristics [2]
No. Category Remarks
1. Tonnage / Hull Tonnage: 100 tons (standard). 1400 cubic meters. Planetoid Hull.
  • Dimensions: 13.5 m long by 9 m wide by 13.5 m tall.
  • Tonnage, full: 604 tons (standard). 8,456 cubic meters. Technically still Planetoid Hull.
  • Dimensions, full: Maximum - 40.5 m by 82.5 m by 40.5 m.
2. Crew Crew: no sophonts. Software provides virtual Pilot and virtual Astrogator.
3. Performance No maneuver drive installed.
  • Jump: 2.
4. Electronics Model/5 bis.
5. Hardpoints 1 hardpoint, unused.
6. Armament None.
7. Defenses None.
8. Craft None. With no crew, vacc suits and Rescue Balls are not normally carried.
9. Fuel Treatment It is not equipped with a fuel purification plant or fuel scoops.
10. Cost MCr40.615. MCr36.5535. (The architect's fees were amortized long ago.)
11. Construction Time 20 days standard, 15 in quantity.
12. Remarks An automated mail delivery drone, that outlasts some of the polities it is commissioned for.

History & Background (Dossier)[edit]

Upon formation, one of the first tasks of GeDeCo was to set up mail service for the colonies it wished to upgrade. They knew that many of the colonies could not maintain smallcraft let alone jump-capable starships, and indeed, some would even scrap any mail vessel (in the hopes of selling the scrap for quick credits) if given the chance. The Express Rock was one answer: a vessel with minimal support needs and no crew to have questionable loyalties. Many Express Rocks voyage between tenders maintained by GeDeCo, though certain better-equipped minor polities run their own tenders, especially for Express Rocks far from Trojan Reach Sector (which were usually manufactured by someone else licensing the design from GeDeCo).

It is known that certain polities far from the Third Imperium use something like the Express Rock. IISS planners sometimes use the Express Rock as a stand-in for expected communications capabilities until more details are known. Though, usually the only model that matters is "some sort of minimal starship capable of Jump-2".

Hosting its own mail distribution array to facilitate its mission makes an Express Rock a bit more expensive than an Express Boat, despite being less capable in most other ways. It also requires more up front investment than the usual approach of paying some ship that happens to be going in the right direction to deliver the mail, though GeDeCo has often subsidized this. Still, the reliability of priority mail delivery to remote destinations, even at half speed relative to the Third Imperium, can make a good investment for any minor polity with more than a few worlds.

Express Rocks are mainly used within a single polity, or between two non-hostile polities with worlds no more than two parsecs apart. Outside of such arrangements, Express Rocks often fall to pirates looking to turn them into scrap to sell: with no ability to maneuver, their jump drives are easily disabled, rendering them completely helpless against salvage crews.

Express Rocks are not used within the Third Imperium or any other major polity, which have the infrastructure to support proper Express Boats instead.

Class Naming Practice/s & Peculiarities[edit]

Express Rocks are often named after local communications gods, or for the set of worlds they serve. In some cases the cultures or names of the colonies have shifted over time, leading to a few instances where almost no one remembers why their Express Rocks bear the names they do.

Selected Variant Types & Classes[edit]

Civilian Ship - Communications Vessel:

References & Contributors (Sources)[edit]

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This article was copied or excerpted from the following copyrighted sources and used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author.

  1. Timothy B. Brown. Fighting Ships (Game Designers Workshop, 1981), 10.
  2. Timothy B. Brown. Fighting Ships (Game Designers Workshop, 1981), 10.