Furkea Meraki was a small spacecraft-producing firm that operated briefly during the Fourth Age. Despite operating for only 22 years, the company became a legend among starship operators for incredibly bad, cheap, and horrifyingly unsafe products.
Furkea was founded in A.Y. 4807. The company slogan was "Bringing inter-stellar travel to the power of the common man!". The company's goal was to produce an FTL-capable space craft cheap enough to be owned by middle-class families.
The company opened with the Vero-Car: a four-seat, sub-light capable spacecraft. The VeroCar could not reach FTL, and had a top speed of only about 10 PSL with a very poor Acceleration curve; but it was capable of VTO/VL, atmospheric exit and entry, and leaving orbit. The whole ship was only about twenty-four feet long and eight wide, making it possible to land on a modest piece of property (though most regulations required the use of a spaceport. See "Repercussions" below).
The VeroCar cost only about a quarter of a million credits: expensive, but attainable by the upper-end of the middle class.
Furkea followed up the the next year VeroCar with the VeroCar Excelsior; only twelve feet longer than the original VeroCar, it was capable of FTL, and cost the same as the original VeroCar. Both products suffered a similar problem: cramped internal spaces and long travel times.
In A.Y. 4810, Furkea released the Somniabus and Somniabus Ultra, touted as "a recreational vehicle... IN SPAAAACE!". The Somnibus was essentially a VeroCar Excelsior fitted with seats that folded into the walls and some basic amenities, such as a toilet and optional refrigerator, and seats that folded down into beds. The usable interior space was nearly double that of the VeroCar, but passengers taller than 5'8" still couldn't stand upright. The Somnibus Ultra had about double again the space and a 7' head room, but was advertised as "comfortably sleeping eight", which it did not do.
A Somnibus cost around 300,000 credits, which was out of the reach of most individuals; the Ultra was much pricerier at 500k. Though a few families bought them, as well as some people at the low-end of the upper-class, the primary market was rental agencies, which itself led to even more disasters.
In A.Y. 4812, the VeroCar II entered production, basically an updated version of the VeroCar Excelsior with a few of the more deadly bugs worked out. Also introduced was the AlloCar, a re-branded VeroCar with very few changes and several features removed to reduce the price. AlloCar's replaced VeroCar's in production and cost only about 200k.
In A.Y. 4813, Furkea lost the first major lawsuit against the company: a wrongful death suit from two familities that had died aboard a Somnibus Ultra. Most suits had been kept at bay, directed instead at re-sellers and rental agencies, but in this case the Somnibus had been purchased directly from Furkea. The company settled out of court, and immediately suspended all direct sales.
In the intervening years, several variants and re-designed models were produced.
By A.Y. 4829, Furkea had succeeded in its goal with the 90k BovomokoVia (essentially an even-more stripped-down VeroCar), and the palatial Furkea NoGo, which was as large inside as a spacious motor home, not much larger outside, and sold for just 250k. It was advertised as a "mobile retirement home in the stars!". Plans were also made, for discerning customers, to create the Furkea NoGo eXtreme, which would have included most of the common safety features found on ships.
Even with the successful release of the Bovo and NoGo, Furkea folded that same year under mounting lawsuits and a public relations nightmare (everyone who actually tried to use their product died). During bankruptcy hearings, it was revealed that Furkea's debt was approximately ten times their revenue, and that the company could not even pay interest on its loans. Further, lawsuits won against the company had been awarded over 100 times the company's value.
A conservative estimate indicated that, for each 250k spacecraft the company sold, it caused on average about 2.5 million in damages.
About four years later, Gudersnipe School obtained a surplus Furkea NoGo and carried out the first safety study on the product.
Furkea took originally started with a simple notion: by sourcing commonly available, "off the shelf" components, they could make a ship that was affordable to the common man. Sure, it wouldn't have the same robustness, operational lifespan, or cabailities of most ships, but it would be within reach.
They very quickly discovered that common parts were far too expensive for the common man. For example: a small FTL drive, such as those used in long-range probes, costs around as much as one of Furkea's entire ships, and is not man-rated. With backers to repay and loans already taken out, Furkea resorted to cheap imitations. While they did not buy directly from the black market, their suppliers were very shady, supplying poorly-made copies, often struck from stolen specifications, and made in factories incapable of meeting exacting standards. More worryingly, Furkea used a large number of non-flight-rated components.
Adding to the problem were various corners cut in order to make the designs small and inexpensive, such as:
- No onboard power generation; ships relied on plasma expansion in the ion-vacuum drives to power the ship. While itself not a poor design choice, their engine models had very poor reliability, and could not be re-started mid flight.
- Drives were one-directional, meaning the ship had to rotating one hundred and eighty degrees to slow. Again, not a critical design failure, but required considerably more piloting skill than full 100/100 engines.
- The engines themselves were hybradized N-space/Jump drives, but the company advertised them with a service life equal to dedicated N-space.
- The ships relied on the the main engines to act as stop-light engines, which is generally regarded as "suicidal". No a design-flaw in itself, but an extremely poor choice.
DoooooooOOOOOOOOOOooooooooom to the company, which collapsed within a few years of all these disclosures.