Nile Delta is a 20 year-old A-100 – T with a long record of safe and profitable operation that is the scene of some parts of Madman across the Water.

Nile Delta Diagram
Simple diagram of an A-ship 100-T miner showing radiators on the bow, propulsion pylons and comm towers midships, and tow cable connections on the aft end.

A-ships, “asteroid ships”, were the first spacecraft designed for humans by the original generations of Artificial Intelligence. They followed the disastrous first generation of Atlantean deep space exploration.  The original metal hull spacecraft were not capable of adequately shielding against the high energy radiation which periodically flashes through space from sources like the Sun, Jupiter, and sources up to millions of lightyears away. The permanent impairments caused by long term exposure to microgravity in humans resulted in a generation of voyagers physically unable to return to Earth. They live out the rest of their lives supported on the Far Side Lunar base or the small outpost on Mars where less than one-third Earth gravity allows their bodies to function without the typically fatal complications of their body changes upon returning to Earth. 

The photonic minds started with a completely clean slate, using nearly 3000 years of knowledge acquired in the Atlanteas archives.

The results are A-ships. The bulk of each vessel is made of in situ materials from bodies collected in the Asteroid Belt. Initially this collection was done by the remaining metal ships operated by AI and robotic means. Asteroid bodies are broken down and harvested at two bases in Trojan orbit of Mars, refined into raw materials the robotic systems can fabricate. This results in an amazing mix of old and new, and a craft unlike any other conceived.

A-ships are metal frameworks of bars and rods welded and fashioned into spheroid shapes in excess of 200 meters in diameter. The framework is then covered with a special formulation of Atlantean concrete, the key building material of the last 2000 years of the civilization, in layers 5 meters thick. Inside this shell a hollow 5 meter thick labyrinth of  water tanks cover the entire interior, connected to the internal metal grids of the concrete.

Once completed, interior components are built in safety. Fusion generators provide power and heat to melt and distill millions of liters of ice to fill the tanks with water. The water acts as both the generators coolant and a layer of radiation shielding under the top shield layer of concrete. The exposure their crews receive during a 2 year mission is less than that of the typical Lander exposed to the Sun for the same period of time.

Inside the shell sets of wide, pressurized wheels connected by a pressurized central core counterrotate on metal tracks to provide artificial gravity at Earth or Lunar levels to combat microgravity deterioration and ease of normal life and work. The vessels use high-power plasma thrusters to make gradual changes to their orbits, allowing them to ferry people and materials much like Blackships on Earth. Smaller shuttles and pods are used for outside work and special landing craft venture to the surface of moons or planets.

From 1775 until the 1801 (the beginning of Madman across the Water) A-ships have been the primary means of travel, commerce, and exploration in the solar system by Atlanteans. None are allowed to orbit close to the Earth and Moon to prevent detection by the improving primitive telescopes of the Lander scientists beginning to discover the workings of the heavens. Specialized metal vessels move crews and cargo rapidly from Earth to Far Side Base on Luna (the Moon). From there even faster vessels move people and cargo to and from the two Mars bases where A-ship cargo and crews exchange every two to five years, depending upon the mission.

A-ships have derived into four classes at the time of Madman across the Water, operated by the same fleets operating Blackships on Earth – the Atlantean National Fleet, the Nordman Fleet, and the Passur Fleet. Each own about equal numbers of the smaller craft, with Atlantean fleet owning the largest vessels.

The ships are classified by their crew capacity and primary functions.

A-50 Runabouts – These ships are the workhorses of the system, carrying up to 50 people and thousand of tonnes of cargo. Roughly 130 meters in diameter, they operate from Venus out to Saturn’s moons.

A-100 – R Research Vessels – The longest ranging of all the ships normally operated, these vessels are over 200 meters in diameter. They travel from Mercury to Neptune and have obtained the highest velocities of any manned craft in the solar system to allow this travel. They are responsible for the bulk of all deep space research, exploration, and placement of astronomical tools used by researchers back on Earth. They are also utilized for the longest duration trips, up to 12 years. During these trips they become the only craft allowed to carry families, but because of the demands of such voyages the crew for these missions are limited to 40 on vessels originally designed for up to 100.

A-100 – T Mining Tugs – The most powerful ships ever built for normal operation by Atlanteas, A-100-T’s are flying miners. They harvest materials from the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter continuously on two year missions. They carry up to 100 flight crew members, tug pilots, maintenance staff, geologists, and technical experts in what is effectively a mobile mining town collecting and hauling 2 million tonnes of rock, metal, and ice from the Belt back to the Mars orbit refineries. Their crews collect the material, enclose it in a steerable netting system, aligning and releasing it on a two year journey to the refineries while then returning their crews in 6 months following a 6 month outbound orbit and 1 year harvest.

A-500 – Colonial Transports – The largest vessels ever constructed by Atlanteas, 5 of these behemoths were made with the intent of sending a colony of Atlantean scientific explorers to the closest star systems, Alpha and Tau Centauri. Essentially a longer and wider version of the A-100-R able to carry up to 500 people, the vessels were intended for generation travel. The ships can achieve up to .015 the speed of light over 50 years of accelerate out of the solar system and 50 years to decelerate to an orbit in hope of finding a habitable planet. 4 are stored in Trojan orbit behind Jupiter, no longer considered viable for the missions after findings once the initial craft was launched. It began travel in 1782, not arrive until 1944. 300 aboard people are not likely to survive the voyage due to problems with the earlier stasis chambers. Even at fractional relativistic velocities, the advent of FTL will allow future crews to be waiting when the vessel arrives, either to greet them or perform burial rites for the remains.