All Starships Are Buran

Let's talk about why Starmoth spaceships look like 1960s-1980s aerospace designs.

I wanted to title this note "1972 Never Ended" but on second thought it was not appropriate. First, because most of the aerospace designs Starmoth tech is based on are actually from the early 1980s and second because this nostalgia from a time where we had just landed on the moon and Mars colonies seemed possible within a human generation is misguided. I mention it because when you start getting an interest in space exploration there is always a point where you will look back at the 1960s-early 1980s and think that we could have done so much more. And what isn't there to love? The soviets breaking into space for the first time, the Apollo missions, the space shuttle, NASA's realistic plans for Mars expeditions...yet I do not want to reduce this period of time to just fancy spaceships and dreams of interplanetary travel. Misguided nostalgia that reduces a period of time (such as, say, the 80s) to very specific and hyper-focused aesthetics annoys me enough already.

There is a reason why I chose to illustrate this note with a picture of Buran, the doomed soviet space shuttle. I've always loved spaceplanes. They are awesome. And Buran was legitimately impressive. The first fully automated orbiter carried by the second most powerful launcher ever made, itself part of a space program that had some seriously neat ideas. Awesome, yes - but behind Buran was a decaying USSR where an oversized military and space program siphoned resources that could have been put to much greater use for the Soviet people. High tech dreams of spaceflight built on top of lies, decay and dysfunctional systems. Note that the same could be said for, say, Apollo: the most ambitious space program of all time was started in a country with active segregation laws. Buran isn't an exception, just a very evocative example.

Starmoth as a setting is exactly this except in reverse. All spaceships in Starmoth are Buran, except the fall is not yet to come. It has already happened. Humankind failed and almost choked itself to death in the ashes of its own civilisation. What is left of it (what emerged from the Low Age) is a different social and cultural construct. A civilisation of dreamers. A civilisation of people and cultures that do not reach for the stars because they have to but because they can. Not pioneers, not colonists but mere travellers trying to balance out hopes for the future and the staggering sadness of everything that was lost, of everything that was failed, of everything that could have been.

What's left of the industrial age in Starmoth is an old picture of Buran standing atop its carrier aircraft somewhere in the middle of the arid steppe. The eerie beauty of a marvel of engineering and the lingering echoes of years that could have been. 

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