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The expedition to the Mote forms up, continuing my series of images inspired by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s novel “The Mote in God’s Eye.”

A flotilla of tankers joins Lenin and MacArthur prior to the expedition’s departure.

I’ve shown the spacecraft in slightly different orbits – MacArthur is, for example, in a much lower orbit (and consequentially farther away from the camera) than Lenin in this particular image. You might note that the spacecraft are not aligned in relation to one another, or even with their orbital direction – unless vehicles need to align, for purposes of lining up docking nodes for example, there is no particular reason for them to do so - space is not like an ocean, and spacecraft do not (and will never) have decks laid out like ocean liners, this is another thing television Sci-Fi often gets wrong. When not making a burn it simply does not matter how the vehicles are oriented, they can be flying backwards, sideways, or upside down in relation to one another, so all those scenes, in every franchise of Star Trek where two spacecraft approach one another with their (incorrect) internal reference planes aligned, are just wrong.

The tankers are my own design – as a note toward scale, these are roughly one-forth Lenin’s main hull circumference at their maximum diameter.

Lenin dominates image center – described in the novel as a much larger spacecraft than MacArthur, a President Class Battleship. During my recent re-read of the novel I looked for, but could not find, a more specific description of the relative scale of the two vessels, so I built Lenin with a hull diameter a third again larger than my MacArthur model, excluding the volume of her hydrogen-collectors. I’ve stayed fairly close to Aldo Spadoni's Lenin while keeping to the aesthetic I set with MacArthur, giving her a spherical main hull with four launch bays, and a lopped-conic foreword hull which contains her main missile launchers. Lenin’s hydrogen collectors conform to the main hull shape, much more so than MacArthur’s; these are set back of her launch bays.

I remain skeptical of the notion of scoop-diving in the atmosphere's of gas giant's as a method of refueling - but I have included the circular-wing and hydrogen-collectors on Lenin (as I did on MacArthur) in order to remain true to the novel.

Because I imagine Lenin's forward hull would be fairly well packed by her missile launchers and ordnance elevators, along with the bow-mounted laser batteries, I've placed her target acquisition and tracking radars, along with communications and navigational sensor masts, in four redundant pods spaced equidistantly around her forward hull.

Lenin’s Armament:

Missile Launchers: 320 total.

Main Missile Batteries: 220 Launchers
Secondary Missile Batteries: 100 Launchers

Laser Batteries: 388 Cannon total.

Main Laser Batteries: 260 Cannon
Secondary Laser Batteries: 128 Cannon

Neutral Particle Beam Cannon 4 (I crafted my model along the same lines as the SDI system pictured on this page from Winchell Chung’s Atomic Rocket’s site: Particle Beam Weapons). Turret design is slightly different than MacArthur’s as Lenin does not possess the bulky hydrogen collector design I used for MacArthur.

Photo credits:

Earth backdrop courtesy NASA/JPL

Related Images:

Coal Sack, New Caldonia, Murcheson's Eye, & Mote


I.N.S.S. MacArthur

MacArthur:New Caldonia Orbit

Starship Fixture Design

The Langston Field Effect: Descent to Fire  
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© 2014 - 2021 William-Black
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mr-wistan's avatar
Do you have specific sizes and/or tonnages for these ships? I'd be very interested to know more specifications.
William-Black's avatar
You can read the novels by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the specifications are contained in the Mote novels.
mr-wistan's avatar
I have read them, I don't recall them giving any sizes or masses.
William-Black's avatar
The information is all there, Mote in Gods Eye gives MacArthur's orbital mechanic's for reaching the military base in the New Cal system, distance and rate of acceleration, and the clue that MacArthur would arrive with dry tanks, from which you can get the spacecraft's dry-mass and deduce MacArthur's engine thrust power. Later in the novel the authors give the difference in size and mass between MacArthur and Lenin. You have to do some math to get at the final figures but the raw data is all there.  
cougashika's avatar
Once again, you have shown your vision of the Niven/Pournelle universe to be delightfully different. The tanker design is consistent with the ships of the line.
William-Black's avatar
Thanks my friend.
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