This ship has been designed and built by Lord Railton (Professor Breene). Certain large components were manufactured externally by outside contractors, none of whom know the true nature of Breene's work. The vehicle has only been in an air worthy for only a short period of time (the result of nearly two decades of work) and has not been flown in space yet.
Crew space is for two to three with spare couches and accommodation for seven or eight.
The ship is split into three decks, though the bottom deck is low and punctuated by equipment and engines. The upper deck contains the large domes for the observatory and Professor Breene's cabin.
Endurance depends on crew but Breene has allowed for 2 crew at 8 months, down to full capacity at 3 months for air and water, using extensive recycling. Food is dried or compressed (with some canned!) but some cooking facilities are available and the Professor is very proud of his new Radiowave oven ("An offshoot of wartime radar, you know...").
Stellarnaut propulsion systems
The Stellarnaut has four propulsion systems: Main, Auxiliary, Rotor and Manoeuvre. With the exception of the latter, they all point in one direction only and direction changes are almost universally achieved by changing the attitude of the ship.
Main ("Cosmic") Drive
This is a drive system unique to the Stellarnaut. Cosmic particles (atoms of hydrogen etc) are scooped into a central taurus via magnetic fields - a 'Bussard' style ram scoop. Very small amounts of this mass are then accelerated around the hull in an under-floor cyclotron up to almost the speed of light and fired out through the centre duct of the saucer.
Power for this (and other ship requirements) is provided by what the Professor describes as a "dimensional leak" or "Rip". This appears to be something akin to a white hole or similar - perhaps the other end of a wormhole - which the Professor created in his laboratory. Breene has studied the works of Tesla and uses a lot of very high voltage electricity in his physics work but is closely guarded about actual details, saying things like "I'm not ready to reveal all my secrets just yet, young man!" etc etc.
The net result is that the Rip can provide an enormous amount of raw power, channelled into electricity and magnet fields, running the ram scoop, the particle accelerator and the other drives, as well as other ship's requirements. The power output is fixed, rather like a generator, and so - when not in use, energy is stored in the vessels "accumulators".
The Rip provides enough energy to push the whole craft with a normal load at a steady 1g (providing 'Earth Normal' gravity in the direction of flight). A continuous 1.5g acceleration is achievable and - using power pre stored stored in the ship's "accumulators" and a supply of matter in the "Cosmic tank" (gaseous hydrogen and other cosmic particles) - can push harder for short periods (dependent only on the 'battery life' of the accumulators). This extra push is as follows:
An extra 1g for 4 hours making 2.5g
An extra 2g for 2 hours making 3.5g
An extra 3g for 1.3 hours (80 minutes) making 4.5g
An extra 4g for 1 hour making 5.5g
An extra 6g for 40 minutes making 7.5g
An extra 8g for 30 minutes making 9.5g
Note that the latter figure is as high as the vehicle is stressed for and, unless laying flat in the acceleration couches (or in bed), will cause the crew to pass out (and may do anyway).
The Cosmic drive will work in an atmosphere (the bussard scoop is turned off, not being required, and vents through the centre of the ship, via the rotary turbines [see below] release excess atmosphere). However, the Cosmic drive does tend to run "hot" in atmospheres as thick as the earth's, as the Professor has discovered, and not at it's most efficient. In consequence the rotary drive is usually used.
This is a quite simple liquid fuelled rocket system. It is fed from tanks on the Lower deck the system uses a ring shaped (or 'toroidal') nozzle which surrounds the central vent taurus/rotor housing. Using two fuels (C Stoff and T Stoff) and a secret catalytic 'enhancer' (Z Stoff) they provide enough energy to get the Stellarnaut about halfway into earth orbit. If the craft were raised to some 100,000 feet (the maximum height with the rotors - see below) then the rocket Auxiliary Drive could achieve orbit from there but almost certainly not escape velocity. This is not a power issue, merely a fuel storage one.
Given suitable raw material and time, the Professor can manufacture all of the materials in a small automated system on board (using power from the Rip) but this is a complex practice which is much easier achieved back in his castle at Lock Sloe..
This system gives about 8g for five minutes, or less thrust for longer.
The central Taurus has a powerful rotary engine that is, essentially, a cross between the rotors of a helicopter and a high-bypass jet engine-come-ram jet. Electrically driven with power from the Rip, at low speed it operates as a rotor system and allows take off, landing and hover modes like a rotary winged aircraft. At higher speed, using radial louvers at the top and bottom of the vent tube that can open and shut, it performs as a ram jet.
At lower speed directional changes can be made by vectoring the blades but speed is restricted to 150 knots but, with a small kick from the rocket motors for ten seconds or thereabout, the ramjet kicks in, taking the vehicle to just under mach 1. In this mode there is no steering control (except using thrusters and small air breaks around the outside of the saucer) and the vehicle goes straight up. Speed is restricted more by aerodynamics than anything else and - just when the atmosphere is getting thin enough for this to become less of a problem, the ramjet starts to fail through lack of air. At this point, either the Main drive or the Auxiliary Drive is cut in (as appropriate). The Ram jet mode has, obviously, only been tested in Earth's atmosphere.
Using the same fuel tanks as the Auxiliary Drive, this system of nozzles around the hull changes the directional attitude of the ship to enable the other drives to push in a different direction. Other than the air breaks (above) they are the only system for changing direction, except for vectoring the rotor (in an atmosphere).
All very 50s helicopters. Joysticks and switches, However, all control information is sent electrically. It's primitive fly by wire with lots of electric motors and no hydraulics. Feedback systems rather than real computers modify user input.
Other Systems and fitments
The Stellarnaut carries Space suits of rather traditional design but very functional with combination tight suit and hard suit. The system uses a very tight body sheath with holes for the groin and head to poke through, with tight, detatchable socks and gloves. Over this is worn a hard neck and groin fitment. The groin area is like an armoured 'codpiece' with a urine extraction tube. The helmet clips onto the neck piece and a backpack is worn for recyling of air and water.
Over this is worn a thick coverall, boots and gauntlets which are, essentially, unsealed. These are made from very tough woven, man made fibers and fitted with heating and a sophisicated anti radiation compound.
The ship also carries an armoury of hunting rifles, Webleys and shotguns, plus some Valiants (British Army EM2 style). The Professor has also designed some "vacuum guns" - weapons optimised for nil air, cold, low gravity use (small recoilless submachine guns and rocket launchers firing glass projectiles).