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Old January 9th, 2006, 02:04 PM
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From another topic (Igniting a Gas Giant) comes the excellent suggestion from Scott: build orbital arcologies in the hab zone. Attach them to planetoids. Build them from the asteroid belt. Etc.

With efficient fusion you can do wonders.

I reckon you could even produce a directed point-source of light with fusion. Voila, you don't need a star anymore.

So in Traveller, how big is an arcology? It's sort of a gargantuan starport, isn't it? Actually a starport is more like a spaceship than an arcology, isn't it? Or maybe it depends.

Easiest way to think about it: find a big honkin' planetoid and tunnel it out. Add power and life support, add a central section (or dome) with a fusion-powered point light source, and fill the rest of the space out with stuff. Docks for shuttles. Biomes (aka "fancy parks"), high-tech farms, living quarters, a small maneuver drive... and by small, I mean 0.1G, rules permitting, or 1G otherwise.

People need room. Say density is in indirect proportion to the average social standing of the population, maybe [ 50 + 200/SOC ]. So average people would fit in around 78 per square km... on a planet's surface.

What's a square km on a planet? Isn't it 1km x 1km x the atmospheric ceiling? Ouch. Even squeezing the space down to a cubic kilometer yields 78 people per 70 million displacement tons. Hey, they gotta live here all the time.

Okay, let's handwave that down to 1 person per 1 million dtons. Does sound a bit much, but on the other hand, it might not be too unreasonable.

So suppose you wanted a pop 4 planetoid -- say 50,000 people. That's a 50 billion ton planetoid. Now you see why I want a small maneuver drive? The Imperium just can't build them that big. A 6 G drive for a million ton vessel would push this rock at 0.00012 Gs, and only requires 60,000 dtons of fuel every month or so. Ye cats.

Okay, so we hollow out a 100 billion ton planetoid, and park it right next to a 100 billion ton chunk of ice. Most of our problems are solved. But it's still an amazing feat of engineering.

Implications for Starports

Notice that these guesstimations can be used to argue the general sizes of starports based on personnel support.

If arcologies need 1 million dtons per person, and starships need (roughly) 20 tons per person, then a starport is going to be somewhere in between.

But how big are starports? The saving feature is that they're probably not self-sufficient. They can have long-term support, but are expected to have supply lines from a mainworld or gas giant or wherever. In other words, they are not as big as an arcology, so supporting them with small craft is not a logistical impossibility.

They're also therefore cheaper. A typical starport with reasonable repair facilities is going to run you a billion credits -- which is nothing compared to a decent defense squadron.

So most of a starport is storage -- fuel, freight, drydock. The expensive part is the equipment and life support. In general, then, it seems like a starport might require 100 dtons of "people space" per fulltime personnel, and 10 dtons per expected visitor. And (I haven't thought this part through yet) maybe a ratio of 1 fulltime person per 1 visitor is a "reasonable" (i.e. convenient wild guess) staffing requirement.

So then, if your starport has, on the average, 100 visitors per week, then it ought to have 100 fulltime personnel (in a nice heirarchy), and have a "people space" volume of 110 x 100 = 11,000 dtons. Add to that fuel tankage, hangar space, freight holding storage, and whatnot.

So, can I justify 100 starport personnel?

Well, there's the guy in charge and five divisions (life support, engineering, drydock, service, and security). Each division has three shifts of 7 people each. Yup, easily 100 people. And at any given moment, 35 of them are on duty.

How about fuel? You'd probably need a depot that can hold 4 tons of fuel per ton of freight shipped as a rule of thumb (untested).
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