Motherscout class Probe Drone Carrier

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Motherscout class Probe Drone Carrier
Terran Confederation Logo Small.gif
A pre-Interstellar Wars Terran Scout.
Type: SH Heavy Scout
Agility 0.25
Also see Subcraft Carrier
Architect Adrian Tymes
Blueprint Yes
Canon No. Unpublished, non-canon fan starship design.
Cargo 23 Tons
Cost MCr1782.345. MCr1604.1105 in quantity.
Crew 12
Enlisted 10
Officers 2
EOS Long Night
Era Interstellar Wars
Hardpoints 0
Hull Wedge Hull
Illustration No
IOC -2410
Jump J-1
Maneuver 3 G
Manufacturer various
Marines 0
Model Model/4 with extra capacity
Origin United States Space Force
Passengers 0 High/Med 0 Low
QSP SH-ZS31
Reference None
Size 2400 Tons
Size-cat ACS
Streamlining Streamlined Hull
Tech Level TL–10
USP SH-A2813S-D
Designed with Mongoose Traveller High Guard rules, but portable to other versions.

The Motherscout class Probe Drone Carrier is a scout starship.

Description (Specifications)[edit]

The Motherscout is an early example of a Solomani subcraft carrier, designed to carry 88 Stardisc class Probe Drones to a distant system, coordinate them (and use its own sensors) to survey, then report back.

At the time of its creation, the Solomani were new to the jump drive. The Motherscout was designed to incorporate upgraded jump drive technology sourced from the First Imperium (first contacted less than 10 years prior), who allowed others to improve their own Jump-1 drives so long as no one threatened the Vilani monopoly on Jump-2. Many systems on the Motherscout were built to demonstrate the latest and greatest American technology. (When the Motherscout was first designed, Terra had a Balkanized Government, of which the United States of America was one of the dominant factions and a leader in space technology.)

As such, the Motherscout was designed to face a wider range of situations than is common in actual practice. Of particular note is that the design had enough fuel to jump 4 parsecs, and also had fuel extraction and purification equipment - on top of being able to harvest ice or water via the Stardiscs - but was intended for 2 parsec round trips (such as to the nearest mainworlds to [{Terra]] and back), spending a month surveying a system. There was also an extensive autopilot that rendered the sophont pilot redundant, being along just in case. All of this added up to a cost well over a thousand megacredits (converting Terran dollars to equivalent purchasing power in Imperial currency at the time), a price justified only by Terra's newness to the interstellar community. (Indeed, this ship class has been used as an example of why there are relatively few Heavy Scout ship classes, though a fairer comparison would compare to situations where the commissioning polity had the benefit of long experience with jump drive and scouting systems.)

Most of the on-the-scene analysis was intended to be conducted by the Stardiscs themselves. The sophont crew was there to make sure the data was collected and returned. During early missions, before jumping (if no hostile forces were present requiring a quick exit from the system), the Motherscout's crew would compile a mission log and transmit it via laser communicator (typically deploying the Stardiscs and modulating their laser drills), so that in case of misjump, whatever information they had collected would get home 3-7 years later. Not equipping the sophont crew to do their own analysis was slightly controversial even at the time (as it meant the samples collected by the Stardiscs had to be taken home for analysis - especially an issue for biological samples), and has subsequently (in the Second and later Imperiums) often proven unpopular. Even on the Motherscouts in the Second Imperium, which by then had extensive data proving the autopilot's reliability, the astrogator and (redundant) pilot would often cross-train as planetologists and officers, so as to direct the mission for optimal data collection.

The Motherscout had a decent sensor array of its own, in addition to the Stardiscs, with significant extra hardware dedicated to facilitating multiple (sometimes redundant) scans at any given time. In practice, though, it turned out to primarily be a scout smallcraft carrier; even most of the ship's computer's bandwidth was dedicated to traffic control. Tonnage was even devoted to extra communications hardware to coordinate all the Stardiscs - which turned out to be a waste of tonnage, as basic bridge communications proved entirely sufficient. Some Motherscouts removed this to make more room for cargo, as even with the regenerative life support, the limited cargo space meant there was often a shortage of parts and raw materials.

Image Repository[edit]

Not available at this time.

General Description & Deck Plans[edit]

  1. Deck Plans for this vessel.
    Motherscout deckplans.png

This also shows the Stardisc class Probe Drone.

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: 2400 tons (standard). 33,600 cubic meters. Streamlined Wedge Hull.
  • Dimensions: Maximum - 72 m by 36 m by 20 m.
2. Crew Crew: 1 Pilot, 1 Astrogator, 6 Engineers, 2 Mechanics, 1 Administrator, 1 Medic. Software provides 1 virtual Pilot and 9 virtual Sensor Operators, with extra hardware dedicated to enabling extra performance. Sophont Pilot and Astrogator are usually the officers, and often planetologists as well.
3. Performance Acceleration: 3-G maneuver drive installed.
  • Jump: 1.
4. Electronics Model/4 with extra capacity.
5. Hardpoints 24 hardpoints, all unused.
6. Armament None.
7. Defenses None, aside from its smallcraft.
8. Craft 88 Stardisc class Probe Drones. Vacc suits required for EVA (extra-vehicle activity). Rescue Balls for crew escape normally carried.
9. Fuel Treatment It is equipped with a fuel purification plant and fuel scoops.
10. Cost MCr1782.345 (no architect's fees, those having been subsidized by the polity that commissioned the design). MCr1604.1105 in quantity. Cost includes 88 Stardiscs (MCr951.06, more than half the total cost).
11. Construction Time 2 years standard, 1.5 in quantity, assuming the Stardiscs are manufactured by other facilities in parallel (which was standard practice for this class).
12. Remarks A subcraft carrier, traffic manager, and nest for a large swarm of Stardisc class Probe Drones.

History & Background (Dossier)[edit]

The Motherscout has been called "one of the last American spacecraft", but this is mostly an accident of history. Roughly a decade later saw the rise of the Terran Confederation, which generally subsumed the United States Space Force - and thus, took credit for most later Terran designs until it evolved into the Second Imperium. Further, it is suspected that while the United States Space Force officially took credit for the design (using publicity from its recent first contact with the Vilani to help raise funds), this was a highly collaborative effort, and true credit should go to the United Nations Space Collaboration Agency. It is definitely the case that at least some Motherscouts were built, crewed, and operated with little to no input from the United States.

20 years after first construction, by the start of the Second Interstellar War, the Motherscout class was already showing its age (Jump-2 having become available, which - due to Terran astrogation at the time requiring finding large masses, which they called "jump points", to jump into or out of otherwise-empty parsecs - was a more meaningful step than it might seem to audiences who have never needed jump points), though a few more were still manufactured - generally to survey rimward, away from the First Imperium's core. The design was considered positively obsolete by the time Terra was bombarded in -2371 during the Third Interstellar War. The class's manufacturing facilities - and with them, its manufacturing records - were among the casualties of said bombardment (fortunately, they had been shut down and evacuated at the time), but it is estimated that at least 18 and no more than 79 Motherscouts were ever made. (Arguments for 79 cite plans to, after the first was built, make 3 in parallel, over the 39 years until the factories were destroyed, which would have been an initial 1 followed by 26 batches of 3 each, and that the factories were shut down and evacuated just before the bombardment because they were determined to finish the last batch before evacuating. Arguments for 18 suspect the plans were optimistic projections, that actual manufacture never reached more than 1 at any given time, never reaching volume production, and that the factory had been shut down a few years before the bombardment. The truth is likely in between.) Existing Motherscouts continued to serve in dwindling numbers as accidents, deferred maintenance, and the rare hostile action took them out of service - but as with many starship classes, some Motherscouts kept finding employment sufficient to warrant continued maintenance for centuries after manufacture ceased, relying on their own workshops to manufacture parts specific to the class, and adapting parts made for other classes.

When the Rim Province collapsed and turned some of its assets over to the Terran Mercantile Community in -1690, records include one Motherscout being gutted and converted into a liner. It is unknown if this was the last Motherscout, but none are listed among the assets when the Terran Mercantile Community became the Old Earth Union in -1110, so if there were any more they were presumably decommissioned or converted into something else during that time.

The Motherscout was originally to be called a "hiveship", given the number of smallcraft that it carried. Traditionalists wishing to reference wet-navy aircraft carriers eventually won out. Likewise, the First Imperium thought it was a survey ship the first time they saw it, until they realized that it was exploring space unknown to its users - no matter whether the Vilani had been there already - meaning it was fulfilling a scout's mission.

In many early cases, the Motherscout was also a diplomatic vessel. The First Imperium had claimed all the systems near Terra, but whether they were actually colonized was something to be tested - and, when colonies were found, their opinions solicited to suss out the true nature of the First Imperium. Much of this happened while Terra and the First Imperium were formally at war; in several of these cases, the decision to bring enough fuel to jump 2 parsecs and back without refueling proved wise, as the Motherscout found itself having to jump away from an incoming hostile force shortly after communications were established.

There were also incidents where Solomani (known as "Terrans" at the time) who had gone trading or adventuring in Imperial space had become imprisoned due to one of the Interstellar Wars, and when a Motherscout happened across the world they were held captive at, the crew were asked to take their fellows home so that they could be exiled from Imperial space. This put a strain on the Motherscout's life support (fortunately, redundant systems and spare supplies were able to accommodate said passengers). Such captives were treated as heroes upon return to Terra; knowing that they would be rewarded for rescuing heroes helped the crew tolerate the psychological burden of double occupancy, especially whoever actually had to share their staterooms.

Class Naming Practice/s & Peculiarities[edit]

Ship Interior Details (Peculiarities): A Motherscout was dominated by the complex of docking sites and hangars filling its rear. Docking spaces were designed to shuffle around, similar to automated multi-story parking garages for land vehicles. Each docking space was sealed off from the rest, with hatches in the corners to enable travel through, that could collapse into the ceiling temporarily when docking spaces needed to swap around (or when a Stardisc was to dock or launch, or to move a Stardisc in or out of the hangar). This was the only way to reach and service the maneuver drive without leaving the ship. While the system generally worked, the number of iris hatches involved was a noticable part of the ship's maintenance - especially when one hatch got stuck collapsed or uncollapsed, hampering the flow of docking spaces in the area.

The back face of a Motherscout featured 16 entrance/exit slots sized for a single Stardisc at a time, surrounding a double-wide double-tall slot opening on the large central hangar. Even the hangar could partition off, to allow launch or docking while crew serviced Stardiscs deeper within, or used the tools to repair or fabricate parts needed elsewhere on the Motherscout.

Crew working in this area were officially required to wear a vacc suit at all times in case of sudden depressurization, but this was often ignored in favor of simply exiting any area about to be depressurized, as there was plenty of warning before a Stardisc docked, and launches were by policy delayed if anyone was in the space being launched from. Having a comm unit to receive warnings about this was not often ignored.

Most of the staterooms were together in one barracks-like block, with doors leading to the general purpose cargo/commons area. The two officer quarters were slightly larger and off on the top and bottom decks, right next to the crew space interdeck access shaft. As boarding actions were not expected by the Motherscout's naval architects, the bridge was not sealed off from the access shaft (though console positioning meant the access shaft presented a bottleneck if boarders ever did come).

Class Naming Practice/s: Motherscouts were named for famous exploration outposts and bases, for instance "Amundsen-Scott" for the base on Terra's frozen southern continent and "Tranquility" for the first crewed landing site on Terra's sole natural satellite.

The ship class name itself is a combination of "mothership" and "scout".

Selected Variant Types & Classes[edit]

Paramilitary Vessel - Scout Vessel - Heavy Scout:

  1. Type SH class Heavy Scout
    1. Motherscout class Probe Drone Carrier

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.