Spaceflight happens in the world in which my Starbreaker stories are set, and there is a starship that will prove important later, but I haven’t mentioned much about happenings beyond Gaia (the in-story name for Earth) in my stories because most of the action happens on our birthworld.
Ships that leave Earth orbit and fly to Selene or to other planets carry the IPS ship prefix for “interplanetary ship”. Based on this designation, space transport firms have gotten ahead of themselves and decided upon the ISS and IGS for interstellar and intergalactic craft respectively.
For example, some of the first ships built by Earth for inner system transport (between the sun Helios and the asteroid belt between Ares and Zeus) were named as follows:
- IPS Mary Shelley
- IPS Catherine Lucille Moore
- IPS Leigh Brackett
- IPS Ursula K. Le Guin
I haven’t decided how it came to be that the tradition of naming interplanetary spacecraft after women who either made science fiction possible or dramatically changed the genre for the better sprang up. If it ever becomes relevant to plot or characterization I’ll think of something.
Yes, I know the moon isn’t named Selene, and that there are no planets named Ares, Zeus, and Poseidon. Likewise, the Sun’s name is “Sol”, not “Helios”, and that’s not because of a Zionist conspiracy. However, I decided that if I was going to name my setting’s version of Earth “Gaia” I might as well be consistent and name the sun and other planets after Greek gods rather than their Roman counterparts. Oddly enough, in reality Uranus is the only major planet not named after a Roman deity.
If we had been consistent in our nomenclature, we would call Earth “Terra” and have a planet named “Caelus” instead of “Uranus”. And then my father wouldn’t be able to joke about the similarity between Captain Kirk and toilet paper, which is that both go around Uranus hunting for Klingons. (Yes, I can hear you groaning.)
Orbital Habitats vs Colonizing Planets
It would be more reasonable to simply build orbital habitats, and those exist as well, but people are still people in my setting. Many of them are irrational enough to want to live on a bigass hunk of rock hurtling through space instead of inside a “tin can”.
Speaking of which, here’s some more public-domain art from Don Davis. You wouldn’t have seen this if you had come directly to my site.
Also, the artist’s thoughts on space migration are of interest. I think that learning to build sustainable orbital habitats is a necessary first step toward interplanetary and interstellar spaceflight. Once you have an orbital habit, I think the next logical step is to add propulsion systems and get the habitat moving out of our system at a reasonable fraction of the speed of light.
(We’ve only got another 4.5 billion years at most, people.)