|Mode||Flight (Ion Thruster)|
The skyvan resembles a large conventional van without wheel wells. Very simple and incredibly cheap compared even to the smallest ship's boat, the vehicle is extensively used in orbital and asteroidal facilities for moving goods and people around.
The skyvan is propelled by small electronic ion thrusters, fueled from disposable cartridges; there is a battery pack to operate lights, and controls (minimum life between charges, 1000 hours). Net acceleration is very small - the vehicle is for use outside gravity wells - and power-gobbling grav plates are almost never fitted.
While the vehicle hull is pressure tight, life support consists of an oxygen bottle and CO2 scrubber in the ceiling; the belter bus cannot repressurize itself. When hauling materials, it is common for the driver to wear a vacc suit and not bother to close the door (called "running with the top down"). The standard vehicle configuration has two side doors forward on port and starboard (driver's and passenger's) sides, and a single top-hinged rear cargo door. There are recessed cargo tie downs on the interior surfaces of the cargo box, and fold-down bench seats along the walls. Rated capacity (see below) is two persons up front plus two tons of cargo or eight passenters in back. Cargo must be carefully positioned for optimum balance and maximum efficiency.
Controls and instruments are rudimentary: a pistol grip joystick for thrust control, and relative position sensors with a small screen display, plus a few idiot lights for such things as Change Thrust Cartridge, Low 02, and so forth. The primary control is the thrust response dial (called for historical reasons the "Dash-Pot"), which sets the amount of thrust delivered for a given motion of the pistol grip. This control is not supposed to be used for extra speed - though of course it can be, and is - but to give the same control response with differing loads.
Remember that the skyvan's thrust is in fractions of a newton, so loading is very important to handling; the rated load capacities are designed to give a comfortable margin of control. If the vehicle is overloaded (as they very often are, especially on construction sites and the like) the controls will start responding as if shot with novocaine. The thrusters cannot practically get the vehicle to a dangerous velocity, but a van without a couple of bashed fenders is unheard-of.
Because they are so cheap, there is no hesitation about modifying these volkscutters to better serve their intended uses. Very often the modifications destroy the pressure integrity of the hull; in this case, the oxygen bottle is ripped out, and the driver works suited.
Overall dimensions are 2.5 m high, 2.5 m wide, 4 m long. Price Cr5,000 new (used prices vary widely). Tech level 7.