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102 Vehicles: Specialized Vehicles

Ghermal Cloud Miner (TL13)

Summary: 50.00 displacement ton disk airframe; 216 tonnes; MCr 10.5 Chassis: 700 kL disk airframe (16 m long x 16 m wide x 3.3 m high, wingspan 51 m); Structure: 62.4 tonnes of superdense, rated for 10.0Gs, body 0.26 cm thick, sealed to 100 atm, 7 armour rating Performance: 34.1 MW TL13 fusion plus generator; Fuel: 851 L of enriched water (851 kg), 100 hours supply Propulsion System: 34.0 MW contragrav with 6 minutes emergency power and emergency boosters; Maximum Speed: 1419 km/h loaded, 1741 km/h unloaded; Range: 141405 km loaded, 173469 km unloaded; Agility: -7DM (10.0G); Crew: Crew roster: pilot, engineer; 2 crew stations Standard life support, sanitary facilities; Airlocks: 1 cramped; Hatches: 2 manual; Grav Compensation (4G), Only seating compensated Communications: Orbital Radio (10.00 kW, TL13, SmVcl); Range: 30000 km Subcontinental Maser (100 W, TL13, SmVcl); Range: 300 km Sensors: Active Regional Radar (1.00 kW); Range: 30 km; Resolution: 0.050 mm per km of range Active Regional Sonar (1.00 kW); Range: 30 km; Resolution: 0.050 mm per km of range Other: Options: wet bar Safety Features: 2 emergency wall patches, fire suppression system 2x heavy arms 560 kL of cargo space (40.0 tonnes)

Most spacers think of gas giants as sources of rather dirty hydrogen fuel. Industrialists know differently. A gas giant’s atmosphere is a soup of complex organic molecules, free for the taking. Even the virtually free energy of fusion power doesn’t free industrial processes from the need for raw materials, and skimming organics is frequently cheaper than synthesizing them.

Cloud miners, such as the Ghermal, cruise the middle strata of a gas giant, scooping the atmosphere into their gaping maws, separating the organics, and storing them in vast tanks. When the tanks are full, the skimmers head for higher altitudes where they rendezvous with floating refineries, transfer loads and crews, and drop deep again.

Skimmers—the term refers to both the ships and their crews—are tough. Superdense armour can withstand 100 atmospheres pressure. Massive contragrav units are augmented by the lifting- body airframe and backed up by ballistic emergency boosters. Grav compensation counteracts up to 4Gs. Even with all these advantages losses occur, especially when taking a hellride: skimming a deep upwelling, where the rarest organics are found.

© Robert Prior, 1998.

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