There are few things more strongly associated with the Petroleum Era than the personal automobile. They ranged from econo-compact urbanite cars to utilitarian mini-vans, sedans, and work trucks to luxury vehicles and exotic race vehicles. The entire system, from compact to heavy freight truck all demanded extensive highway systems, refueling infrastructure, and a system of parts, maintenance, and an entire major construction industry backed with an equally extensive sales and service industry. The entire process was very wasteful in terms of land use, resource allocation, and social economy. The personal automobile didn't die out until the middle of the 2nd Dark age. All sorts of attempts were made to save the car in every garage in every home. It wasn't the loss of fuel, as biofuels and plant derived alcohols replaced gasoline, albeit at much higher prices. The personal automobile finally gave up when the personal home became a relic in the shadow of arcological construction, which favored public transit and excluded internal combustion vehicles inside the mega-structures.
The Return of the Trade Routes
The Over Land trade routes were reestablished as the automobile ended. Heavy trucks remained in use as the cost of building rail lines between the remaining mega-cities was considered cost prohibitive, and the tracks were vulnerable to sabotage by the high level of general lawlessness and banditry that was common in the era. There was also the fact that at varying times, the different city states and micro-nations were not always on friendly terms and didn't want rail connecting them so intimately. The Commonwealth of New England, the Confederation of Southern States, Republic of Texas, Mexico, and the Great Lakes Republic all fought a variety of small scale wars with each other, and that's not counting warfare around the rest of the world. Trade routes were established between the various nations and states. Borders were held and cargo and people moving between regions were routed through trade ports and cities. There were two main modes of overland travel in the late 2nd Dark Age: heavy transit trucks and horse drawn wagons.
The horse found a new role in the 2nd Dark age, working in the fields alongside solar powered and fuel cell powered farm equipment, and moving heavy loads. Wagons, carriages, carts and other medieval modes of transport were common in the rural regions. This use of animal infrastructure allowed some regions to weather the age of loss better than areas that failed to exploit non-combustion technology. Horse operations also attracted less interest from the scourge of the day, Raiders. Horse meat couldn't fix busted cars, fuel motorcycles, or put bullets in a gun. In some ways, horses were the worst enemy of Raiders, as many law enforcement officers, bounty hunters, and such learned to ride and were able to execute many Mad Max wanna-be's with rifle, guts, and skill.
The Heavy Transit Truck
The industrial cores of cities remained, and those powered by solar, hydro, or nuclear power were able to remain in a variety of limited service. As the arcologies rose, the demand for trade remained strong. Heavy transit trucks had been the main mode of transport, and remained so, even as the trucks themselves changed. The sleeper cab of the semi was enlarged to hold first generators and batteries for electric drives, the trailers topped with solar panels. Eventually the sleeper was made to house the first non-military compact arc reactors (North America, West Europe) or a variation of the Dimension Engine called the D-Screw (A weak version of a D-Engine that ran constantly to charge banks of batteries and capacitors rather than directly powering engines). These trucks needed no fuel,and had fantastic range. Traveling between the cities did place many of them in harms way, so the Convoy returned. This isn't in the concept of trucks in a row, but rather cargo ships crossing hostile waters.
The Massey-Kenworth K800
The MK K800 was built in the Great Lakes Republic and represented the pinnacle of the heavy armed transit truck. The truck mounted a robust miniature arc reactor and a substantial battery system. Rather than rolling on 18 wheels, it moved on 30, 10 on the tractor, 8 on the front trailer and 12 on the rear trailer. The tandem trailers carried a combined 45 tons of potential cargo, raised crenelations for armed security personnel to use as shields, and the rear trailer had an armored mounted gun position like the tail gun on a WWII bomber. The tractor had two gun positions, one on top of the sleeper section, and on in the front of the vehicle. There were usually positions either in the front of each trailer with gun ports for firing rifles out into the side arcs of the vehicles. Being electric, each wheel had it's own electric motor, oversized tires, and 20 inches of transit in the suspension. The 60 truck was fully capable of running offroad, fording rivers and streams up to 8 feet deep, and traversing inclines of up to 15 degrees.
Convoys and Wolf Packs
The convoys moved between cities, usually 9 to 12 trucks at a time, moving in groups of three running a mile to three miles apart. The trucks could provide covering machine gun fire for each other, and this was generally deterrent enough to ward off motorcycle raiders and raiders who mounted light and civilian vehicles with armor plating added. But, it wasn't uncommon for Raiders to have scavenged military vehicles, especially in the American south west. While honest to goodness Tanks were rare to extinct, there were plenty of APCs, IFVs, and light armored vehicles that could be converted to run on assorted fuel blends. The convoys typically ran with half as many modern armored fighting vehicles. The AFVs ran like destroyers, protecting the convoys, and were typically armed with medium cannon, wire guided rockets, and other inexpensive weapons.
The Raider Wolf Packs would eventually die out, or become consolidated into anti-Federation or Anti-Bloc factions. The trucks in the Cosmic Era have changed, and are much less armored and few carry any sort of weaponry. But the image of the truck convoys barreling through raider road blocks with their 50 cal's blazing while AFVs careen around, firing recoilless rifles and machine guns at renegades in retro vehicles covered in iron plates, armed with RPGs, machine guns and home made explosives remains a popular one. Few HoloVids capture the nostalgia of the Gun Runners quite like Smokes and the Bandit. The wise cracking Bandit drives a Raider war buggy while his buddies run a 2 truck convoy hauling 500 barrels of Old Milwaukee from the Pontiac Arco (1st Gen) to Georgia. This legendary beer run crossed Appalachia, one of the worst areas of Raider activity and also a gauntlet of mountain passes and valleys fraught with land slides, ambushes, and road blocks. Bandit delivers the beer, gets the Georgia Peach Princess, and escaped from Smokes, the leader of the Valley Orange Raiders.
As the Dark Age came to an end, and the city states and demi-nations formed into the New National Blocs, the almost forgotten rail systems returned to vitality. The old highway and interstate systems were in horrid condition, and rather than re-embrace the madness that was petrol traffic, rail was reborn. The new locomotives were powerful arc reactors, or tandem or even quad D-Screw Drive powered, and hauled heavy loads between cities and arcologies. Many arcologies and all industrial arcologies had rail head stations where the cargo moving in and out could be handled without resorting to an outside rail yard. The early refurbished rail lines ran much like the truck convoys, the trains were armored against RPG and bomb attacks and had anywhere from four to16 machine guns mounted on them. Some even pulled dedicated gun cars as a mode of defence.
The Pullman Type Q
A popular gun car originating in the Republic of Texas, the Type Q resembled a passenger car in a train, but concealed no fewer than 20 machine gun mounts, and a concealable twin 75mm cannon turret.
A common design, the Sledgehammer made no bones about the fact that it was a rolling weapons system. The car was thickly armored, bristled with machine guns and had a dedicated gun turret on it. The turret mounted' anywhere from a single large bore cannon, to three autocannons and were as much about intimidation as they were about combat efficiency.
Resembling a slab sided cargo container, the Helo-Car, or Helo-Can as it was sometimes called, housed a single twin engine electro-fan helocraft. The helo in question typically was armed with rockets and a chain gun, and was able to pursue fleeing raiders and want to be train robbers.
Personal vehicles were once very common, millions of cars in every city. The personal vehicle has vanished largely, but not completely. There remain utility vehicles that are used in rural areas and wasteland areas where mass transit is not cost effective, or where the old decentralized infrastructure remains.
Car Gangs are present in many of the old urban cores, like New York and Los Angeles. These gangs maintain fleets of modified vehicles, mixtures of performance, show vehicles, and combat cars. For the most part these vehicles are ignored by the urban planners and councils and maintenance of the old roads, parts supply for the vehicles, and fuel is being produced by the gangs, or are outsourced by them. The car market exists but its now crowd sourced and a core aspect of the gang black market. Motorcycle gangs and big rig truck gangs also are present, but they are more splinter sects of humanity and not quite the violent organizations of the past.
A Note on Land Raiders
It is quite popular to paint most Land Raiders as degenerate human beings, hell bent on murder, cannibalism, rape, and destruction of civilization and society. While there were certainly groups of Raiders who fit this description such as the Haley Gang of New Mexico, who were best known as anarcho-cannibals and flesh artists. The Cumberland Overlanders were also famous for their brazen attacks on truck convoys and even attacking some urban outposts with mortar fire and bomb laden vehicles. But this was not universal. Most Raiders were little more than isolated pockets of humanity who knew that stopping cargo moving through their region could be a god-send, if it was food, medical supplies, or other vital goods. The 2nd Dark age documentaries typically spend most of their film time on the African famine and genocides, the collapse of India, or the Arab Israeli Nuclear War. Most like to ignore that large pockets of North America and Europe were left to fend for themselves as the major population centers moved to secure their needs at the expense of areas that had as part of various federal superstates had depended on the largesse of the wealthier parts of that nation.
Oceanic trade has been the blood of empires, and the number of ships in the ocean at the end of the Petroleum Age was astounding. The number of these ships dependent on fossil fuel was also astounding. Few things consumed more fuel than the ships, and along with the large aircraft they were among the first things to be put out of service. Most such ships had fuel bunkers that counted fuel not in terms of gallons, but in terms of tons carried. The first world military navies did better, as in some cases, as many as half were equipped with nuclear fission reactors and had decades of fuel range left. But the value of an aircraft carrier wanes when it's planes can't fly. The nuclear carriers were eventually tethered in ports to serve as floating power plants for the cities. The same fate befell most of the ballistic submarine fleets, and as their reactors ran low, their nuclear payloads were scavenged and repurposed into fuel rods for the reactors. By the time the electro-fan airframe was developed, the old carriers were a solid century or more past their most imaginative lifespans.
The Gun Ships
The loss of cheap aviation fuel saw the demise of the carrier. Alternative power sources were utilized, and the big gun came back into prominence. Cannon shells didn't need gasoline to fly to their targets. These gunships were more common in the early Second Renaissance, and in some states like the Atlantic Federation, were instrumental in the formation of those powers. The gunships remain in service, their cannons replaced with rail guns and semi-sentient missiles, and their power comes from dedication arc reactors, or full fledged D-Engines.
A British big gun cruiser, the Lancaster was heavily armed and armored, mounting four gun turrets, each packing three naval cannons. The Lancaster was instrumental in fighting off the Scandinavian invasion of Scotland. The Lancaster was present at the signing of the Atlantic Federation Charter, and survived the Eurasian Alliance sneak attack on Gibralter.
CNES New York
A Commonwealth missile cruiser, the New York patrolled the Atlantic Coast and served with distinction in the Caribbean Unification campaign, the Siege of Panama, and was involved in the Commonwealth blockade of Quebec. The New York was retired, and replaced by the AFS New York, a Federation anti-submarine cruiser.
CSS Robert E. Lee, CSS Shenandoah and CSS Monitor
The Confederation of Southern States mounted a surprisingly large navy, as it inherited a large part of the old American Navy. These ships were involved in the patrolling the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Each was a 50,000 ton rail gun cruiser and were involved in the invasion of Cuba, Hispanola, and shelling USSA warships that attempted to contest Federation power in the Caribbean. The Monitor was destroyed by shore rail gun installations on the Brazilian coast, while the Robert E. Lee is most famous for it's defense of Sicily during the Eurasian Alliance land grab in Europe. The cruiser sank three Alliance warships and an estimated four Alliance submarines. The Alliance will still not admit the number of ships destroyed by the Lee before it was lost to guided missile strikes.
The Cargo Haulers
Cargo still flowed, albeit at a lesser rate, between the world ports. The old dream of the Global Community had fallen, but that didn't close the ports. The first post petroleum cargo ships were covered in solar panels and moved at half to a third of the speed of the original fuel fired ships. Cargo still moved, but now food goods were no longer the big thing. Food had to be grown closer to home, and once mundane items suddenly became luxuries when their source was discovered to be thousands of miles away. Bananas and pineapples became almost mythical outside of tropical locations.
The Renaissance cargo haulers look similar to the old haulers, but their engines are now arc reactors, or D-Engines. In some places, the largest cargo and container ships are powered by technically primitive fission nuclear engines. Most of these ships are in the service of the ACPS, Kingdom of Scandinavia, and the USSA.
Luxury liners and cruise ships were the first victims of the Resource Wars. After the wars, the ships were instant targets of pirates and raiders. Most of them were either turned into floating slums, or sunk by pirates heady on chaos and destruction following the collapse of major national navies. Like cargo ships, cruise liners returned with the advent of new compact power sources and are a more vital part of the new economic blocs. Few large cruise ships are purely recreational. Most have significant cargo space and do double duty as cargo and people carriers. These ships are regular visitors of the various raft cities floating in the world's oceans, and do service stops at various seacologies and other underwater facilities.
Submarines are vastly more common in the new age. They come in a variety of sizes and roles, and many are simply submersible versions of basic ship types. The existence of seacologies, underwater habitats and raft cities create a demand for ships that can submerge and reach these underwater locations for the moving of goods, and people. Civilian submarines come in three varieties, personal submersibles, Undersea Boats, and Submarines.
Personal Submersibles are small craft that hold 2 to 20 people and have a variety of roles. The first P-Subs were used in underwater exploration, but were later mass produced by Benthic Petroleum, later Benthic Products, for use in sea oil drilling. These P-Subs would later be modified for seacology construction, aquaculture, undersea mining, and other specialized purposes. They are not particularly adept at deep water work, and prominently feature large neo-glass domes and bubbles for field of view, and are usually battery powered. The police use P-Sub patrol craft for seacology security. The HoloSeries Miam-Sea Vice follows the exploits of a pair of Miami Raft City cops who deal with drug runners, criminals, and thugs who flit between Havanna, Miami Raft City, Miami Seacology, and the Miami Arcoplex. The show is most famous for it's gratuitous nudity, outrageous gun fights, cutting edge fashion, and high speed P-Subs.
U-Craft are ships that are designed to run best on the surface of the water, but can function at reduced speed and efficiency underwater. The most common U-Craft are cargo craft that cruise on the surface until they reach their underwater destination, then dive down to link up with their destination seacology. There are a number of U-Cruise ships that offer surface and underwater tours of reefs, ships graveyards, and other oceanic over under routes. The ships can also submerge to avoid surface pirates and bad weather. The most famous of the U-Cruisers is the EAS Prince Chelyuskin offers a trans-arctic cruise that alternates surface running in open water, then cruising at half speed under the ice pack. The military uses few U-Craft, either preferring surface navy or dedicated submarines.
Designed to run at full speed and efficiency underwater, submarines are seldom intended to surface for anything they don't have to. Almost all submarines are military in nature. The main user of submarines is the Eurasian Alliance, which has used them to great effect. The use of what was considered an outdated mode of warfare has effectively checked the power of the Atlantic Federation, as it's core is the Atlantic Ocean. The new generation of submarines carry torpedoes and can launch aquatic power armor, attack P-Subs, and aquatic mecha. The Alliance EAS Kuznetsov has eight torpedo tubes, two particle cannon turrets (recessed, surface use only) and can launch 24 'Rusalka' marine battle suit troopers and eight 'Fiddler' attack P-Subs. Each Fiddler (Lavochkin LVK-128) is armed with a dorsal autocannon (surface use only) a torpedo pod, and two assault arms that mount combat claws and a high frequency spear.
The skies were conquered in the Petroleum Era, and in the Resource Wars, air power started being decisive and ended as a footnote. The fuel required to keep aircraft in the air required more fuel than was present, more than could spared. The aircraft were grounded and it seemed that the dream of flight had slipped from man's grasp again. But, the dream of flight was not to be denied. Hot air balloons reappeared, drifting over the countryside. An old past time turned into the new foothold in the sky. This brought about something that scientists and engineers had said would never happen again.
The Zeppelin Legacy
The lighter than air ship returned with a vengeance. In the absence of aircraft whizzing about at many times the speed of sound, the ponderous blimp and zeppelin returned to the skies. The first craft were smaller models and we covered in solar absorbent material that heat the interior gas, as well as producing electricity to power electric engine pods. While not fast, seldom moving faster than 60 miles per hour and limited to low altitude and fair weather use, the zeppelins were reliable, safe, and were able to fly above the broken terrain, abandoned infrastructure, and land raiders. Most important personnel traveled via airship during the Second Dark age, and the airships remained for a long time the only reliable non-military way to cross the Atlantic or Pacific.
Zeppelins were commonly perceived as commercial use vehicles, with accommodations for passengers, similar to the passenger aircraft of old age. Blimps, lacking a rigid structure were more frequently used as cargo haulers, though this difference was mostly based in perception. A few attempts were made to reweaponize the airship as a bomber, but this fared poorly as most remaining powers still either had stockpiles of guided anti-aircraft missiles and anti-aircraft guns.
The Arcology rose, and many had large upper decks for the servicing of zeppelins and blimps. The image of the centuries old airship docking at the top level of an arcology was almost symbolic of the Second Renaissance. The airships are still present in the modern age, serving as 'Skyliners' for luxury air cruises from arco to arco, or transoceanic crossings. Some larger cities also maintain a number of police Observer Craft that can move special recon equipment into a small area, as well as coordinating local police responders and providing cyber support with a floating hotspot for cyber security ops.
The Electro-Fan Helocraft
The arc reactor facilitated abundant electricity, but jet engines can't 'burn' electricity, and petroleum was no longer a viable fuel source. The zeppelins and electric heavy vehicles proved that electric motors could work. Rotorcraft re-entered production since electric motors could indeed turn rotor assemblies. The electric helicopters didn't fare well, as large rotor assemblies required large electric motors, and combined with the weight of the reactor, left them barely able to lift themselves let alone cargo or passengers. Electrofans made the next appearance. Enclosed fans didn't have central motors. Instead the ring of the fan was a circular linear rail, similar to a rail gun or coil gun. The magnetic field rotating through the ring causes the blade assembly to turn. While not terribly fast, these new helocraft used fixed wings with electro-fans embedded in each wing. Combining limited VTOL and straight wing flight, the craft proved viable.
Electro-Fan craft took the place of helicopters, working in urban areas. Civilian and military models cropped up, ranging from everything including luxury corporate executive craft to infantry transports and gunships. Larger and large helocraft appeared, adding more engines was easy, as the linear hoop didn't require an excessive amount of power. Four engine helocraft appears as long distance craft, then six engine, and more and more as they could be added. Helocraft and construction mecha are now the norm in construction circles.
Examples of Electrofan Helocraft
Global Dynamics GDi-21 Grasshopper
The Grasshopper is a twin engine electro-fan that has a wide manta like body and large thrust nacelles. The body provides a degree of lift in horizontal flight and is well armored for a helo. The Grasshopper is a Federation gunship that is entering service to replace the military version of the Whippoorwill. Rather than being a jack of many trades, the Grasshopper is intended to be one thing, a ground attack and close air support vehicle. It has an advanced electronics system, integral LAI system, six hardpoints for weapons pods, and an internal rotary missile rack that holds 8 missiles and can fire one at a time, choosing each missile for each shot as needed.
Cameron Helocraft C-1285 Dragon
One of the largest helocraft built, the Dragon is a beast and has eight electrofan engines. Two are mounted in the central/rear area of the craft at the center of balance and are exceptional for their size. Each fan is 22 feet across and delivers a stunning amount of windforce. the other six engines are located around the perimeter of the vehicle and are used for fine control while the craft is hovering, or in adding thrust for moving heavy payloads or accelerating. The Dragon can lift 20 tons, but is at the limit of the airframe and the engines. Payloads of 12 to15 tons are a standard for maximum normal load. The military has used Dragons to move light mecha quickly to and from battlefields, as well as air deploying light military vehicles.
Cameron Helocraft C-1215 Kestrel
The Kestrel is a small helocraft that is favored by special forces, weather and news crews, corporate raider executives and paramilitary forces like SWAT. The Kestrel has two smaller electrofans and an open fuselage that can mount door guns, door heavy cameras, and can carry six men or two power suit troopers into an area and back out. The design is minimal, uncomfortable, cold, and fast. The Kestrel also uses a two rotor assembly inside it's electrofans so makes a loud and distinct sound as it flies. The whopping reverberating drone of a Kestrel can be heard over a mile away.
General Mechanics Skycar
The Skycar is the realization of an old dream, a flying automobile. The skycar mounts four small electrofans, one at each corner of the vehicle, seats 4 comfortably and weekend luggage. The Skycar has a top speed of 80 mph and is reliable and with computer controls, easy to fly. It unfortunately came after the automobile age, and far fewer families owned personal transportation vehicles. The Skycar is also slow compared to other electro-fan craft, difficult to manage in bad weather, and expensive compared to train or mass transit passes.
Fixed Wing Aircraft
The speed of sound is a barrier to helocraft, the electro-fan nacelle is an aerodynamic nightmare and airflow through the fan is easily disrupted. There have been a number of attempts to reclaim the speed that came from fuel burning jet craft of the Petroleum Age.
The Hybrid Electro-Fan aircraft has smaller electro-fans that have a narrow profile and has a single or pair of small jet engines mounted in the rear of the craft. The wing mounted fans get the hybrid craft airborn, but once up and going as fast as the fans can push it, the jets are fired and the craft accelerates. While most electrofans max out near 300 mph, the hybrids can reach 500 mph and start flirting with the speed of sound. Hybrids are not popular as they consume expensive fuel, and require extensive infrastructure.
The electro-prop uses a series of magnets to rotate a central shaft attached to a propeller. The aircraft that use electroprops are able to reach the sound barrier before encountering aerodynamic instability and propeller stress. The aircraft are steady and reliable, many of which have impressive lifting capability, but they are not seen in a favorable light. The propeller driven aircraft in the modern age is intimately tied to the events of World War II (a common misconception refers to it as World War Eleven) and the design is seen as both backwards and intimately militaristic. Electroprop aircraft are principally used for transoceanic flight, with four engine airliners being the norm.
Just because fuel is expensive doesn't mean it's gone. There are various groups and governments with access to synthetic fuels, ranging from bio alcohols to strange things like boron slurries. The Ramjet is a hypersonic engine, as is the Scramjet, both of which exist and are used by fixed wing aircraft for secret military operations. The only things faster than the Federation X-Planes or the Alliance Shadow jets are rocket powered craft in earth orbit.
Space was only lightly contested during the Petroleum Era, as almost all resources were terrestrial in origin. The first creeping steps into the black abyss of space were made during the last part of that era in the form of ridiculous efforts to attempt space mining. These attempts failed, and eventually the low profit to cost ratio quickly killed space travel during the Resource Wars. Little more than communications satellites were launched during the dark years that followed. Things would quickly pick up, however, after the Second Renaissance.
The Atlantic Federation, despite it's watery name, has compared to most other powers, a weak navy. It's real strength lies in its space assets and space technology. The arc reactor and miniaturized arc reactor are both present in space as the prime source of power for almost every Federation space colony, factory, habitat, or ship. Interplanetary travel has been made possible by the creation of reliable ion drive engines. The distance between planets is still vast, and the continuous ion drive has made this travel feasible, but by no means quick and convenient. Getting from Earth to one of the orbiting habitats can be done in a matter of a few hours. Reaching the moon is done in a day, getting to Mars can be as little as two weeks or as long as three months depending on Earth's proximity to the Red Planet. Pocket CogNets have made this long duration travel possible by giving the crews of the interplanetary ships entertainment and diversions during their long trip.
The typical cosmic era spacecraft has an engineering section that is composed of an arc reactor, or several arc reactors working in a power network connected to a computational core and an ion drive system. The Core houses an AISC that handles most of the ship onboard activities and monitors the movement and condition of the ship. Federation Ships are best prepared and built to handle long distance travel as they have rotating sections to simulate gravity for the occupants. These rotating sections are either minimal on other nation's ships or are non-existent. This limits the amount of time these ships can spend on patrol or on a mission due to the physical health of the crew.
Interplanetary Ships are typically large, at least 300 feet long as a minimum. The Engineering section generally composes half to two thirds of the ship with the rest being used to carrying the crew and the supplies they will need to survive in space. The Federation fields several dozen of these craft, split between scientific ships, and military craft. The megacorps field more interplanetary ships, but these craft are unarmed save for minimal anti-asteroid and point defense systems. Attempts have been made to field corporate warships to protect corporate interests in space, but so far these attempts have been arrested by the almost universally accepted Tycho and Tycho II conventions. The megacorp ships are typically either cargo craft or are involved in mining operations.
The modular construction of the Yoyodyne Olympus Mons class cargo hauler is the craft's main selling point. More than 27 of this class of ship are in service. The most common use of the OM is carrying supplies and sundry goods from Earth and the Earth stations to Mars and points beyond. The return trip, the OM ships are typically loaded down with refined metals mined from asteroids and finished goods to be sold back on earth. The Olympus Mons is close to 700 meters long, has a crew of 40, and a cargo capacity of 90,000 tons. At full payload, the ship is painfully slow to accelerate and these ships take two to three times as long to reach their destinations.
The AFS Isaac Clark is a deep belt mining ship. Built in orbit and technically one of a kind, the Clark moves through the asteroid belt where it hunts down asteroids less than a mile across. The ship will tether to the asteroid and then extrude a network of scaffolding and camps across the surface of the rock. The stone matrix is preserved while the veins of metal are removed from the matrix. As these veins of metal are drawn out, the resulting stone shell is reinforced and made ready to hauled back to earth. These stone shells are then converted into space habitats, where the rock in their construction gives them strength and a degree more radiation resistance.
Orbital Craft are smaller than interplanetary craft and while they use the same arc reactor and ion engine arrangement, they are smaller engines, and smaller reactors. The craft are also limited in range because few can carry more than a few days worth of supplies and lack the extensive reclamation and recycling capabilities of the larger ships. These ships are intended for short range use, earth orbit to the moon, or shuttling back and forth between habitats and colonies.
Integrated Systems, a subsidiary of UAC, builds one of the most common orbital craft, the IS-99 Bronco. The Bronco seats 22 passengers plus three crew members, or four crew members and 5 tons of cargo. The Bronco is more often called the 'Bus' as it has relatively poor handling and is three times longer than it is wide. Integrated Systems also builds a personal orbital craft, the IS-100 Mustang. The Mustang seats up to three but only requires a pilot and handles much like a civilian aircraft. The Mustang is maligned in military circles as being seen as a poor imitation of actual aerospace and dedicated space fighter craft.
Shuttle Craft are perhaps the most frequently used and most common craft in space service. Shuttles do the hard work of moving from the surface of the Earth to orbital stations that serve as hubs for space travel. The shuttles refill with people and return to the surface, as often as 3 times a day. This leads to the shuttles having a relatively short life span due to the fatigue induced by re-entering the atmosphere that frequently. Shuttle craft also do not have supplies or goods for more than 6 hours of operational time and zero recycling ability. Unlike the shuttles of the Petroleum Era that rose into space on pillars of fire, shuttles in the Cosmic era are launched via mass drivers. These large rail systems fire the shuttle into the air like a slingshot. Once airborne, the shuttle propels itself into orbit using hypergolic rockets. The typical surface to station run is 16 minutes. The return trip is slightly longer,at 45 minutes from station to landing.
Taking a trip to the Moon sounds romantic, and every couple wants to take their Honeymoon on the Lunar surface. But getting there is a colossal pain. First you have to pass the physical to make sure the shuttle launch wont send you into a coronary. Then you have to book tickets on a shuttle, and then another shuttle to take you from earth orbit to the Moon. Finding accomodations on the Moon can also be expensive as well as time consuming. But everyone will tell you that nothing looks quite like watching the Earth rise, while you lay in you new spouse's arms. Personally I save time, money and frustration and take a holocation somewhere nicer than the frakking moon.
A note on the space section, space travel is possible. There are colonies on the Moon, Mars, and on other celestial bodies. Traveling to and from these locations while possible, isn't common or frequent. Most people will never leave the city they live in, let alone leave the planet. Traveling to Mars is as common in the Cosmic era as traveling to Fiji, and most people in space aren't tourists, but are either working, or are in the military.