Blackberry Targeted Content

Ship Focus: Simurgh Courier

Type: Light transport ship.
Original manufacturer
: Aqualonde.
Current pattern status
: open-source.
Propulsion: Lazward Drive. Metastable nitrogen rocket drive for SSTO capability.
FTL capable:
Civilian laser grid. Optional EW module and weaponized probe bays. 
Length:  40 meters.
Payload : 200-500 tons.

Crew: up to 6, minimum 3.
Also known as the Lazward Ship, The Courier.

The Simurgh Courier is a light transport vessel manufactured by Aqualonde, an Elora-based shipbuilding cooperative. While it has been in development for almost thirty years, the Courier is a relatively recent ship, whose first prototype performed its maiden journey nine years ago.

Most messenger vessels are large, powerful ships equipped with fusion drives or high-power fission engines for long-range translations requiring extensive velocity matching burns. However, few courier ships are destined for interplanetary or short-range interstellar travel, and this is the niche the Simurgh Courier aims at filling. This gunship-sized vessel is meant for the transportation of light, high-value cargo -- typically, physical letters and packages -- in the smallest envelope possible. The Courier's compactness is all the more remarkable as it doesn't come at the expense of crew habitability or cargo capacity. The Courier is even widely considered as a highly liveable ship. Instead of compacting its cargo and cramping its crew, the Courier finds room where most designs wouldn't even dare touch: the engines.

The Simurgh Courier is one of the only interstellar ships not to use any sort of nuclear propulsion. Instead of mounting the fission drive one would expect on such a vessel, the Courier uses a Lazward drive. This unconventional engine, powered by superconducting batteries (Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage or SMES), uses a mixture of microwave chambers and direct battery quenching to provide thrust for velocity matching burns. A metastable nitrogen engine is used to give the Courier additional punch or perform SSTO operations. While the Courier will not win any acceleration contests, its small frame makes the Lazward engine more than adequate for the majority of velocity matching burns.

The performance trade-off more than pays for itself, however. The absence of any sort of radiation shielding and fission chamber makes the Courier extremely compact and allows for the geometry drive to be placed right at the centre of mass. With very few interference coming from the engine and such a small frame, the Courier can reach FTL performance levels more commonly found in much larger, long-range vessels. It results in pinpoint accuracy and an ability to "chain" short-range jumps, as well as to plot translations even in high-interference areas. Some engineers consider the Courier as one of the first geometry-drive centric ships, where the main sublight engines are purely auxiliary to the faster-than-light device.

While the Courier is a purely civilian design, it is surprisingly good as an improvised combat vessel. With such a low-signature engine, the Courier is harder to detect than the average cargo vessel and can run with all radiators retracted for extended periods of time. While it doesn't generate enough power to use combat lasers, the generous thermal headroom allows for extended electronic warfare capabilities, while the two sliding probe doors only need a simple software update to perform as acceptable missile launchers.

Ship illustration by Valahor.

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