View Full Version : Our Latest Rocket...The Valkyrie!

11-16-2010, 11:31 AM
Despite fussy downloads in the middle of the night, the Valkyrie spacecraft is now available through the good offices of DriveThru RPG.com (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=85881&filters=0_0_0_0&manufacturers_id=3413). On time. I am happy.
What now, you may ask? A little down time between projects? Not a chance. I've already started the artwork on our December project: A Martian Dirigible! I also plan to release an edit of the Heinlein rocket, since the PDF turned out to have some layout problems.
I could take a few days off, I suppose...but I'm not going to. I barely got the Valkyrie finished on time, and I don't intend to be caught out like that again. If I take any time off, it will be the week before the next release, not the week after this one. Besides, Thanksgiving will be coming up in a couple of weeks (next week!) and my youngest child's birthday at the beginning of December. And between his birthday, Jesus' birthday, and my birthday on the 27th, I will be pressed for time sorely and need to get as far ahead as I can.
So, that's the life of an indie game designer, work, work, work, and no steady pay check. The only compensation being what you, the RocketFans, decide to spend and the satisfaction that I'm doing something I truly love.
I wouldn't trade it for the world.

11-16-2010, 05:55 PM
What kind of rocket is the Val?

11-17-2010, 12:36 PM
The Valkyrie is a short-range orbiter designed to sweep space debris out of clogged orbits so that safe travel through the Inner System can resume. It does so by virtue of a fusion torch drive mounted on the nose of the ship. The ten-million-degree exhaust from the torch can vaporize all the small high speed particles that typically shred spacecraft. The Val can survive the hailstorm because of its massive armor on the dorsal surface. Unfortunately, in the wrong hands the Valkyrie can hold an entire asteroid outpost hostage, because that torch is so destructive.
...In short, its plausible enough to get built, dangerous enough to challenge Players, and short-ranged enough to be scrapped or sold rather than taken over once the PCs steal it.
You can see previews of all the art work through my Flickr photostream here (http://www.flickr.com/photos/54971182@N05/).
More info is available on my website here (http://bluemaxstudios.blogspot.com).

11-17-2010, 01:42 PM
Interesting design. I question the effectivness of a drive torch in removing small debris. Not that it wouldn't remove debris is hit, but how much will it hit? And in other to remain in the orbital plane of choice you have to have thrust in the opposite direction as well.

I feel that the method for dealing with small debris would be the soft approch. A huge Areo-gel mass that catches the little flinters and traps them, you then reenter the mass and everything burns up. Larger masses could be deorbited by tiny automatic rocket robots that find the dead bird, latch on, and fire their retros.

I also looked over the Heinlein. Two questions. One, more a comment than a question, I find it interesting you placed the living deck that deep in the ship. Heinlein himself usually placed the people as far from the reactor as possible. Second, what is the quarterdeck for? You have flight controls, and engineering controls. Why a third "control room"

11-17-2010, 05:38 PM
You make some very good points. I had to double check some of my research to make sure I hadn't made an embarrassing blunder...
If you haven't to seen the Valkyrie yet, go here. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/54971182@N05/5166095728/)As you can see, the Val has two Fusion Torches, on either end. During debris sweeping, both are fired to keep the spacecraft on station. The Torch nozzles themselves are magnetic and and can be adjusted for either narrow jet or wide-angle spray. In "spray" the Torch can catch debris clouds larger than the Val's own size. A good equivalent would be an icebreaker making trails behind which the freighters would follow.
As for using aerogel to catch debris, I'm not so sure it would work. I have a couple of reasons for this: First, While aerogel will stop comentary debris that would normally vaporize on contact with a solid, The kind of debris a Valkyrie sweeps is between 1mm and 3cm, and masses 1 to 10 grams. I'm not positive if aerogel, the least dense of all solids, would stand up to that. True, I use aerogel in the Valkyrie's armor, but it's under a metal Whipple shield and is mainly there for its fantastic insulation against heat. Second, the kinetic force of several tons of small particles hitting the aerogel is the equivalent of several tons of TNT (http://www.rocketpunk-manifesto.com/2007/06/robinsons-first-law.html); assuming the aerogel survived, it would still be knocked out of orbit. Also, the Val's history (included in the PDF) shows that its design was more politically motivated. The nation responsible for the Valkyrie project, the United European and African Parliament, does not have access to Helium-3, and there for cannot use fusion power. The Valkyrie was designed with Fusion Torches specifically to attract foreign investors who would supply the fusion plants, and therefore give Eur-Africa access to fusion. Hardly the first time politics have trumped efficiency...

Of course, the real reason for the Valkyrie's unique design is to provide GMs with a non-military spacecraft that is dangerous enough to challenge PCs but not useful enough to make PCs replace their current spacecraft with one.

As for the Heinlein's three control rooms, this is military redundancy; the ship can fly and land even if it's two main control rooms are knocked out. The addition of the quarterdeck also keeps EVA support, cargo handling, and crew transfer from distracting those in the rocket's tactical center and in the place you monitor the nuclear reactor. I imagine on purely civilian Heinleins the Quarterdeck would be converted to a VIP suite or Rec Room or something, but for the introductory release, I included a generic deckplan that could be used for either military or civilian use. In later products, especially adventures, featured Heinleins will have have their own specific deckplans.
As for the Main Deck sitting so low, I have a good reason for that. The standard Atomic Rocket would have "crew, cargo, propellant, nuke" Because it used fission rockets. The Heinlein uses a Deuterium/Helium-3 fusion reactor, which does not release radiation thanks to the strong magnetic field and Helium-3's ability to absorb excess neutrons. Since I didn't have to put the life system in the nose, I put it just level with the wingtips, so it's easier to get in and out without a launch gantry. Also, The Heinlein is more stable when landing with a full cargo bay and empty propellant tanks than the Rolling Stone would be, since everything massive, including the life system and electrolyzes, are at or below the rocket's mid-point and the point where the boarding ladders brace the ship upright. I've always thought that the traditional design would be dangerously top-heavy when landing. Imagine, tons of cargo and personnel on top and empty tanks on the bottom...jeepers...

Hope that answers your questions. If you have any more, feel free to ask. I enjoy getting a chance to discuss the behind-the-scenes research that I can't manage to fit in the PDFs.
BTW, I've recently made the switch from Windows to the Ubuntu distro, and I LOVE IT! GO, LINUX!