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Thomas-Peters's avatar


A new piece in my "How the Solar System was Won" series.

The Courageous is outbound from the Earth-Moon system, on an exploration mission to the asteroid belt. Its low thrust, high efficiency ion engines produce only a few hundredths of a G of acceleration, but it can thrust continuously for weeks, unlike rocket engines. A nuclear reactor supplies the electricity for the ion drive, to allow operations far beyond the Earth's orbit, where solar cells can't provide enough power. The reactor counterbalances the Habitat module on the far end of the boom. The whole ship spins around the engine/hub module, to produce half a gee of centrifugal force to the habitat.

The design is based on a NASA study, but the details are mine.
Rendered and modeled in Lightwave, with post work in Photoshop CS3.
Thanks for taking a look!
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© 2010 - 2021 Thomas-Peters
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I always come back to this one, this is how it's done!
and there she is. quite simply one my all time favorite images. you've done a mans job sir!
Willpagan's avatar
Great picture. The detail is fantastic.
Eagle1Division's avatar
Hah, interesting setup! Personally, I understand all the engineering, and physics and stuff, I just can't get past the fact it's intuitively flying sideways :XD:

I've said that before "as opposed to rocket engines", but later I realized that technically speaking, ion/plasmas/VASIMR, etc. ARE rocket engines :XD:

Anyways, I love how realistic you do stuff, I'm just looking through all your gallery now :)
CUTANGUS's avatar
Very well engineered. Beautiful concept.
fluffninja's avatar
I love the design!
MarCusFX's avatar
Nice but lens flares don't go behind objects in real life :P
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Well, yeah. I did it both ways, and, ultimately, I thought this one was more visually satisfying. I'm kind of channeling one of my all-time favorite artists, Robert McCall, who used the flare behind objects to great dramatic effect.
MarCusFX's avatar
Well it certainly creates more contrast. Happy new year :)
Vanguard3000's avatar
steve-burg's avatar
Great! :D
If only... this could become real...
RobCaswell's avatar
Man, when you play in this series your passion truly shines. I really love this piece - everything about it! The design, the composition, the light. You GOTTA make this one into a print, bud! :D I remember when you first pointed me to this concept, back in the late eighties. I don't think I ever got a chance to incorporate it anywhere. But y'know, if I did there's no way it could be as good as this, anyway. Rock on, my Space Race Baby brethren!
karanua's avatar
Seem to recall the NASA version being called the Ronald Reagan, surprising more people when depicting first stage exporation and colonisation don't use SEPS to drive their ships, ok in this case yours isn't solar elelectic but the engine remains the same even if its electricity supply differs. Great concept art. Just out of unterest whats the fuel your using for the ion drive?
GrahamTG's avatar
Beautiful work.
Pwesty's avatar
DAM! Thats good!
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