G.S.S. Antikythera

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G.S.S. Antikythera, was a Metal Prototype, Multi-technology Test Bed built late in the Kamian Succession Wars. It never made it past proofing and was not officially commissioned. However, many of the technologies pioneered would later see use in the Nelson Revision.

Basic Design

Antikythera is laid out and has typical dimensions for a destroyer, but a lower than average beam. She is however packed with considerably more equipment and technology, and boasts a much smaller crew. While a typical destroyer might have a crew of 2-400, Antikythera was initially designed to run with just twelve officers and a cook (less crew than a typical Fast-Attack Ship), and optionally a six-man Verbose Team (Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure Team). Most of the ships systems were designed to be no-maintenance or self-cleaning, reducing the numbers significantly. As the prototype was expected to experience technical problems, it was fitted out with compartments for 36 additional technicians.


Antikythera's most unique aspect was its Higgs-Nathan Reactor-based powerplant. Instead of using a nuclear reactor to produce electricity which then powered various systems (many of which created plasma), Antikythera had a matter/antimatter reactor producing large volumes of high-energy plasma. This could then be channeled into systems directly or used to produce electricity. Some systems were powered by plasma induction, while others used the plasma directly. In a way, the Antikythera was like an old-fashioned steam warship, where steam from the powerplant was used to turn the propellers, for heating, and on aircraft carriers to power catapults.


N-Space Drive

Antikythera used Very High Performance plasma-ducted Ion vacuum drives which incorporated the then-new component of salting the dry-plasma with materials from the Higgs-Nathan Reactor. This innovation, originally conceived to allow emergency venting of the reactor, would not become standard on most ships until well after the war.


Antikythera made use of a newly-designed type of warp coil, powered by plasma-induction directly from the engineering plant. This reduced power requirements and reduced the need for super-conductors (one of the chief design goals of exploring Higgs-Nathan technology).


The designers began with a basic weapons suite: 40 offensive missile launchers, 20 defensive, six torpedo tubes, and a small energy weapon in a turret. The turret carried a Fusion Rifle, but the final design was probably intended to use a standard Hybrid Cannon.

This was all a fairly standard complement for a destroyer. But the goal of the Antikythera was to replace crew spaces with additional weapons. Four dual-type Gallet Gun/Charged Particle Cannons fixed and mounted along the central line of the hull. These were a newly designed fast-firing variant, more like a Pulse Cannon than a traditional battleship gun. The cannons also had the ability to siphon and compress plasma from the engineering plant.

Antikythera was further fitted with railguns based on a newly-invented plasma-induction technology. Plasma-inducers let considerably more energy be delivered at less cost, giving the heavy rail-slugs considerable power. Railguns were not then standard issue at the time, but were often fitted to experimental ships.

The most unique weapon aboard was the Ballerina Missile, built specially for the Antikythera and based on the defunct Scion-Sending principle from earlier in the war. The shortfall of the SSM was the requirement of a large, complex, dedicated launch system, difficult to keep operational on smaller ships. Larger vessels did not need such a weapon, so it fell into obscurity and was eventually phased out altogether. The Ballerina took the warhead from the SSM and fitted it to a sophisticated propulsion system, negating the need for a ship-board launcher. Called "the alphabet", the engine used antimatter catalyzed, a linear-drive ion-vacuum system, and injected mercury into the matter stream to provide the highest propulsion. A similar concept was later used on the Star Hammer.

At the time, fission-fragment engines used by most missiles provided good delta-V but low-initial acceleration. This was good for the ship launching them, but bad for the missiles. While a standard missile could reach 80-PSL, it was easy to shoot down. Standard doctrine at the time was to fire a barrage of missiles and hopefully overwhelm any defense (this was best exemplified in the Bedlam system, which could fire as many as 6,000 missiles per minute).

The Ballerina instead made use of a two-stage launch system. Initially boosted by a standard fission-fragment engine, these were re-engineered to deliver a much higher initial burst of acceleration (thus consuming fuel faster), at which time the specialized ion-vacuum engine took over. By using anti-matter catalysis and adding significant mass in the form of mercury, the performance of the engine was able to boost the warhead past 80PSL, and had an over-all rating of 90PSL+. Too fast to be targeted by any existing anti-missile system and indeed too fast to detect by most sensor grids, the warhead could cut through typical shields, and for good measure the missiles were equipped with a shield-frequency modulator.

Ballerinas were much larger than existing torpedoes and even larger than the original Scion-Sending. While they still required a dedicated launcher, this was a simplified canister system not much longer than the missile itself. This allowed it to be mounted in the preferred 0-90 position or even a 90-90 position, thus saving valuable space in the ship's nose. The Ballerina's engine made use of plasma-ducting wrapped around much of its length in order to achieve its high degree of acceleration. This required the engines to be pre-"spun" before launching, accomplished by an engine recycling system such as widely employed on carriers (on a carrier, most particularly a Harpy carrier, exhaust from docked fighters is routed back into the engine, allowing them to be spun at max revs while still inside the carrier). This did add some complexity to the launch system and greatly slowed reload speed, but the over all capabilities and flight-characteristic of the missile was ideal.

The Achilles-heel of the missile, and its reason for incorporation into a sub-capitol ship like Antikythera for testing, was its guidance and targeting system. Due to the speeds achieved, the missile simply could not be set into a "fire and forget" mode; it could not make use of on-board sensors, and indeed required pre-programmed flight instructions transmitted to a receiver. Unless fired along a specific bearing, it had no way to intercept a target ship or determine the correct detonation window. Instead, a targeting laser had be employed to "paint" the target, and a steady stream of flight instructions uploaded to the missile. This required the ship firing the Ballerina to use active sensors and active transmitters, making it an extremely easy target for counter-attack. The goal of the Ballerina was to provide sub-captiol ships with the ability to take out capitols, a long-standing goal throughout the war. Ships like Antikythera, with thinner armor and smaller all-around size, could be produced in vastly greater numbers than super-heavy dreadnoughts.

AMCLPPDMBSS Missile Anti-Matter Catalyzed, Linear-Propulsion, Mercury-Injection Scion-Sending Missile.