A starliner is a commercial interstellar transport vessel primarily configured for passenger transport with a secondary capacity for cargo.
Starliners were used throughout the period of Galactic Federation and the Galactic Commonwealth to carry passengers and cargos along interstellar routes between human colonies. They fell out of use following the Tarmigan Annihilation when the Human Galactic Commonwealth collapsed.
The starliner returned to use in the late 73rd Solar Century in the Perseus Quadrant of the galaxy due to the rediscovery and reconnection of colonies owing to the Odyssey Project. Starliners now connect all the advanced systems of the Perseus Quadrant with service frequencies varying according to colonial population.
Despite improvements in hyperspace transit speed, and the use of the StarLock network, transit between star systems remains a long-term commitment, with round trip voyages requiring days, months or even years of time to complete. The majority of starliner passengers embark for permanent or long-term relocations to other worlds. However, some interstellar traffic is touristic in nature, particularly among systems in close proximity, such as Furlong and Boon. Increasing numbers of passengers are taking advantage of one and two year sabbaticals to visit nearby systems. Dawn Tufra, Cerulean, Monarch, and the Aiolos-Canto systems are popular destinations owing to spectacular scenery and well-developed recreation complexes.
In order to complete long voyages with minimum consumption of oxygen, water, nutrition, and energy; passengers on interstellar voyagers enter into a state of extreme hibernation (sometimes called ‘Naptosis’) in which their vital signs and bodily functions are reduced to minimal levels. The maximum safe time to remain in this state is 240 hours, but they are typically rotated out of deep hibernation on 200 hour rotations. Vital signs are monitored constantly throughout the transit by artificial intelligence. The AI’s and the ship’s crew can revive passengers in the event of a death condition. 4% of humans do not tolerate hibernation, and are accommodated with either cryostasis or small passenger rooms.
Most Starliners are capable of atmospheric penetration and soft landing, and are equipped with landing thrusters and gravity breaks. For optimal efficiency, starliners dock at orbital facilities or at spaceports on lower gravity moons such as Ulysses or Sigyn in the Sapphire system. Medium Starliners serving Starlock routes are designed to be accommodated by the Starlock docking systems. Heavy Starliners incorporate shuttle bays capable of receiving and launching transports for passenger transfer.
A starliner’s flight crew consists of four persons; two pilots, a systems engineer, and a communication/navigation officer, as well as an Artificial Intelligence that drives the navigation system and monitors the ship’s functions. A starliner usually departs carrying six pilots, two engineers, and two COM/NAV officers to ensure redundant coverage. All four are only required in the flight deck during departure and arrival. During transit, the crew may join the passengers in hibernation, with the AI monitoring systems. Heavy starliners are often required to carry larger crews by local regulations.
The service crew consists of a Flight Safety Officer, Four Flight Medical Technicians, and a number of Stewards, usually at a ratio of 1 steward for every 20 passengers. The stewards are trained in passenger service, basic medical treatment, and ship’s operations.
By interstellar flight regulations, at least two crew must be conscious at all times, a flight officer, and a service officer. In the event of an AI failure, two flight crew and one steward for every 100 passengers must remain conscious.
As voyages can last for years, most starliners contain living areas for their crews and neuro-holographic recreational environments to ease the monotony of interstellar transits.
In normal space, starliners are propelled by conventional Graviton Engines and Ion thrusters. Once in hyperspace, the ships are powered by hyperdrive engines derivative of the engines used on Explorer-class starships.
Heavy starliners are typically 300-400 meters long and carry between 1,000 and 2,000 passengers and 200,000 kilograms of cargo. Three of the major models of Heavy Starliners include:
- TK-2000 “Titan” built by the Takada Corporation of Bountiful Prime’s moon Liahona
- Cloudbuster Constellation (Model 700) series by the Cloudbuster Aerospace Company of Sapphire
- Alpha 800 built at the Babylon Shipyards in the Bountiful Syste
- Red Giant 2000LX built by Interstellar Transports (ITX) of Emeishan
Medium Starliners are typically 200-300 meters long and carry up to 1,000 passengers (typically 500 – 600) and a 60,000 kilograms of cargo. Models include:
- Cloudbuster Star Cruiser (200 and 300 Series)
- Alpha 400 and Alpha 500 Series built at the Babylon Shipyards
- Cutter 600LR built at Cutter Spaceyards, Guelph
- Takada TK-202 (“Roman”) and TK-404 (“Samaritan”) series
- Nova 500 built by ITX.
Vessels with a carrying capacity below 400 passengers are not economical for interstellar operations. However, there are a few smaller models of light interstellar craft, primarily employed on the “short lines” between systems separated by less than 10 light years. E.g. Sapphire/Loki to Republic, Gander-Longueil to Guelph, and Furlong to Boon. The New Commonwealth of the Galaxy operates a small fleet of smaller starliners as Executive Transports. Many of the remote and less populated colonies… such as Bearing’s End and Caspian … maintain small fleets of Light Interstellar Starliners for availability on-demand to meet colonial needs. Examples include the Cutter 200, the Takada TK-303 “Ambassador,” and the Aquila-HDX from Cloudbuster.
Major and highly developed colony systems such as Bountiful, Sapphire/Loki, Republic, Gander-Longueil and Independence usually see multiple starliner arrivals and departures daily. The least populated systems such as Omicron Vulpecula and Caspian may receive only a few starliners per year. Some starliners routes are designed to stop at multiple ports of call for the sake of efficiency. E.g. Aneirin to Tau Matawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu to Sugar Tit to Chalkhill Starlock.
As of the Solar Year 7380, the most heavily traveled interstellar routes were the following (note that each route represents two-way traffic):
2. Bountiful – Chapultepec Starlock
3. Bountiful – Maru
4. Republic – Independence
5. Maru – Independence
6. Bountiful – Emeishan
8. Maru – Sapphire/Loki
9. Sapphire/Loki – Gander-Longueil
Most starliners are operated by commercial or Government entities. As of the Solar Year 7380, the largest starliner operators (in terms of number of starliners owned/passengers carried/number of flights in the galaxy were:
· Republic Interstellar Transport Authority – Government of Republic
· Pan-Galactic Starlines – Bountiful System
· Columba Starlines – Bountiful System
· Maru Galaxy - Maru
· Universal Starlines – Bountiful System
· Red Sun Starlines – Emeishan
· Perseus Starlines – Guelph
· Independence Starlines – Independence
· Astra Starliner Consortium – Loki
· Big Bang Spacelines – Sapphire
The Bountiful System has become a starline transportation hub owing to its large population and the enthusiasm of its inhabitants for Interstellar Travel. The Government of the New Commonwealth of the Galaxy operates a fleet of starliners as part of the Commonwealth Galactic Interstellar Transit Service. .