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A mission of exploration into the unknown must be ready for the unexpected. New civilisations will be encountered and communicating in unfamiliar languages leaves plenty of scope for misunderstandings and even conflict. Endeavour and her crew need be ready to defend themselves.

The development of propulsion, navigation and tactical systems has begun to cast light on what combat in space will look like. System teams have shared their thoughts on what might happen if Endeavour goes to battlestations.

Maneuvering

Endeavour will be a relatively large vessel in order to accommodate the systems and crew needed for deep-space exploration and the stores, fuel and ordnance to support them. Even without water or air to contend with, moving Endeavour requires overcoming the inertia or momentum of her significant mass.

Endeavour won’t turn on a dime,” says Master Chief Sonya Akakios, the ISDC’s chief Quartermaster. “It really will be like maneuvering a large submarine or ship. It will take time to speed up, to slow down and to change direction. We won’t be piloting her with a joystick.”

In the Valley of the Blind…

At distances of millions of kilometres, even a 400-metre vessel will be difficult to spot visually. Much like a surface ship is more easily spotted from the air by its wake, a vessel’s EM emissions are the best way to detect it – infrared, magnetic and radio frequency energy produced by power generation and propulsion systems.

Detecting another vessel as early as possible will be critical to gaining tactical advantage, or at least not ceding it. Endeavour’s passive EM systems will be capable of detecting EM emissions up to 15 million kilometres in any direction.

Should a tracked vessel exhibit hostile intent, weapons systems must be capable of operating effectively at these distances. Only guided weapons – called torpedoes – can consistently hit targets at those ranges without giving away the firing vessel’s own position.

“Combat is going to look a lot different than you typically see in science-fiction, with ships right on top of each other, blasting away with energy weapons,” says Master Chief Alex Peterson, a senior torpedo specialist. “Most combatants would likely never make visual contact during an engagement.”

Theory to Practice

Lieutenant Neeraj Anahira is the officer in charge of tactical simulations for system testing and crew training. His team is now developing a simulation system that will allow crew teams to go head to head in various combat scenarios. These simulation runs are expected to provide valuable insights into which combat tactics are most effective, but that’s not all that’s expected from them.

“Tactical situations aboard a ship aren’t like a computer game,” says Anahira, “there are a number of teams who have to work cohesively together to get a result. Tactical, science, helm, ops… each contributes to successfully executing combat strategy. How they work together is at least as important as the strategy itself.”

Simulation runs will begin as relatively simple maneuvering exercises, gradually increasing in complexity to full multi-team tactical exercises. Where possible these will be live-streamed to allow wider crew to observe and learn.

Join the Action

If you’re interested in joining these simulations, get in touch. We can talk about which team interests you most and how you can get everything you need to become a tactical crew member.

Or you can subscribe to the newsletter to get updates on when simulation runs will be ready to join or to watch.

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