Exploration shuttle, specs

Type 65 Mk I Exploration shuttle (TL10^ limited-superscience)


This is an orbital shuttle designed for landing parties from an exploration vessel on the surface of a habitable planet and returning them to rendezvous with their ship in orbit. It was devised for the Survey program in 532 PDT; each Necho-class Survey frigate carried two.

Built on a 30-ton streamlined airframe, the Type 65 is a winged design 14 metres long, with two fusion-powered ram-rockets intended more for atmospheric cruising than for making an important contribution to reaching orbit. The winged design allows the shuttle to fly with the ram-rockets at low throttle, which is reasonably inoffensive near settled areas. Besides sporting landing wheels, Type 64 MkI shuttles are designed for a water landing. They are fitted with a refining plant for wilderness refuelling, and may be used, admittedly rather slowly, to recharge the ship with remass (not antimatter fuel). The Type 65 is lightly armoured to protect it from ground fire during possible “hot” extractions, and equipped with very light armament: a 100 kJ very-rapid-fire point-defence system.

A Type 65 will carry ten passengers in acceleration couches and 7.5 tons of cargo. The manufacturer offered “fuselage tanks” that could be fitted in the cargo hold to carry an extra seven tons of water, but in practice these only ever used for conveying cargoes of fuel to the mother ship.

Stats according to GURPS Spaceships


  • Forward hull
    • [1] Armour, nanocomposite, streamlined (dDR 5), $150k, —
    • [2–6] Passenger seating (10 acceleration couches), $60k, —
    • [core] Control room (comp 6, com/sen 4, stations 1), $60k, —
  • Midships hull
    • [1!] Armour, nanocomposite, streamlined (dDR5), $150k, —
    • [2] Major battery, 100 kJ very-rapid-fire improved laser (RoF 200, range C/S, dDam 1d(2)), $150k
    • [3–6, core] Cargo hold (7.5 tons), — , —
    • [wings] $150k
  • Aft hull
    • [1] Armour, nanocomposite, streamlined (dDR5), $150k, —
    • [2] Halved system
      • ! Half-sized Refinery (0.25 tons/hour), $15k, —
      • Half-sized fusion power plant (1 power point, 200 years), $150k
    • [3] Fuel tank (1.5 tons water, 5 mi./sec. @ 3 g), $10k, —
    • [4] Fuel tank (1.5 tons water, 5 mi./sec. @ 3 g), $10k, —
    • [5] Reaction engine, fusion torch ram-rocket (1.5 g with water), $450k, — [notes 1, 2]
    • [6] Reaction engine, fusion torch ram-rocket (1.5 g with water), $450k, —

Basic stat block

TL: 10^
Spacecraft: Type 65 Mark I exploration shuttle
dST/HP: 20
Hnd/SR: +4 / 6
HT: 12
Move: 3 g. / 10 mi./sec. (air speed 4,975 mph [note 1])
LWt.: 30 tons
Load: 7.5 tons
SM: +5
Occ.: 2+10 SV
dDR: 5 / 5 / 5
Range: 0
Cost: $2.255M
Refuel: $60


  • Control room crew: 1 (pilot)
  • Turret gunner: 1 (flight mechanic)


  1. Air typically has an average molecular weight of about 29 AMU, giving 3.8 times the thrust of hydrogen (and 0.26 times the delta-v) for the same reason that water gives three times the thrust of hydrogen. That means that the Type 64's ram-rockets gives 3.8 gee of acceleration in air and an air speed of 4,975 miles per hour (over 1.5 miles per second towards orbital velocity). At least in a breathable atmosphere they do. In the hydrogen atmosphere of a gas giant they would produce only one gee and 2,500 miles per hour.)
  2. The listed cost for a ram-rocket seems grossly excessive, especially for an air-entraining aerospike. I have assumed that the multiple is 1.5 rather than 5 times the cost of the rocket.