Anglic Union

“Alpha design has been perfected, or so I was taught,” Bell said.  “Or don’t you believe it?”

“Alpha nodes were perfected in terms of reducing the mass,” Chelan observed.  “Two empires back there were prizes for lighter alpha drives.  We know this because there are trophy walls honoring winners, still intact after an alarming number of years.  Lighter was done by simplifying, making the same component perform multiple functions in creating a warp. Alpha nodes also became more efficient.  I suspect if you move the other way, you can design a node that violates no patent restrictions.”

“Coming back to building spaceships?” Bell asked.  “There are no astral architects in the Republic, are there? What do we do?”

“If you don’t know how to build something so that it works, you look at examples that do work.” Chelan said. “We can’t copy the design of one of our haulers, not without the Republic claiming we have an IP violation, but we are allowed to maintain them. That means we know exactly what goes into them. That means that a major step is to get the yard to the point where we can more or less duplicate, at least functionally, every component of one of our freight haulers.   Besides, the approach I’m envisioning is radically different from anything the Republic uses.  So we build a test bed: We build something small, except for the frames, and overbuild it.  Four fusactors, when one would be enough. Two complete sets of beta drives. Extensive machine and repair facilities on the ship. Six life-support units instead of three.  Framing like that used in the haulers, except thicker. Instead of titanium alloy we use a nickel-iron steel.  Yes, we will need to keep it painted against rust. To avoid all those thermal expansion problems, we use the same alloy for everything.  You get to tell me what I’ve missed.”

“We are going to build an ersatz starship,” she said, “learn from the process, and do better the next time?”

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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