Set Sail on Silent Winds
The sixties and the seventies were a real renaissance in outer system exploration. The Astronomer class ships went out and explored the planets and their moons and even dove deep into the Kuiper - all the way out to Eris. They planted little outposts from Callisto to Charon.
But those ships could only carry a couple of dozen people and a little bit of cargo. It was the Vesta Star and its eleven sisterships that settled the outer system, bringing a hundred passengers and a few hundred tonnes of cargo out to those outposts and turning them into real settlements. Out from Oasis at L1, it was two months to Jupiter, three to Saturn, five or more to Uranus and Neptune - depending on fuel load. One run even made it a hundred AU out - a year and a half trip each way. The ships were a technological marvel - the miniaturization of some of the breakthroughs that set the Cityships on their interstellar voyages.
Their major systems flaw was the short burn time of the early CNO-catalyzed protium fusion plants. At cruise thrust, they rotted away after 4000 hours of powered flight - enough for two or three trips to Jupiter or Saturn, less further out. It wasn't until the nineties that they got new and improved, higher power, cooler running and longer lasting drives. Ain't progress wonderful.
-Excerpt of the forward to Chapter Six of the Great Big Book of Spaceships, Public Information ePress, 2110
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by Geir Lanesskog, All Rights Reserved