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Scoutships are an old type of interstellar ship that has been replaced in the Frontier by the Assault Scout, but is still in use among the Sathar. They are generally smaller than Assault Scouts ( Hull Size 2), accommodating the minimum crew needed to run the ship), and are poorly armed. The four-man crew is made-up of a Pilot, Astrogator, Engineer and Assistant Engineer.

Before the formation of the UPF, scoutships sometimes served in militia and corporate fleets and, by extension, in the Common Musters, where they served as reconnais- sance and exploration ships.

Since the advent of the assault scout, most scoutships have been retired from service. A few examples have been sold to private interests for conversion to Yachts, Freighters or short-range passenger haulers.

"Cramped" would best describe the interior area of a scoutship, as beds usual line up against the walls of a deck with an average diameter of 6 meters (20 feet), and no partition to separate the crew.

Scoutship crews are notoriously immodest because of this. To be an effective crewman on a ship of this size, one has to be accustomed to living in crammed quarters for weeks on end with other people, whose personal habits would quickly wear thin with most people. .

Elaborate games and customs formed from long voyages on such ships. Since they are too small to have elevators, movement between decks is done by a long vertical ladder that runs the length of the ship, with each deck separated by hatchways

Typical armaments on a scoutship include Laser Pods (composed of anti-personnel-grade heavy lasers), and 1-2 Assault Rockets (modified atmoprobe launch tubes) but, given their size and fragility, few scoutships are armed even with these minimal weapon systems, acceleration serving as a more effective defense.

Most scoutships were designed for trans-atmospheric flight, built with landing struts for vertical landings. The Exploration and Byule Fule-class ships had detachable "descent stage" landing modules.



(left) A Mark-1 Space Scout attacks an orbiting space station. (right) A Space Scout mounted on a multistage rocket.

The Mark-I Space Scout is an earliest known design of scoutship. It was designed to travel to a star system and perform a close-up scan of the system, launching its sole atmoprobe to a promising world as it boosted into a parabolic orbit of the star (or other large body) in order to gather as much data as possible before returning to the system it just came from. It would then meet with a supply ship or station to repeat the process.

These ships were built on planetary surfaces and launched into space using massive, multi-stage chemical boosters, taking on fuel for their single ion engine from refuelling stations in orbit.

Though not designed for entering the atmosphere, the first models were equipped with atmospheric control surfaces on their heat dissipation "wings" to make emergency horizontal glide-in landings. Later models eliminated this unnecessary weight, which had never been used, in favor of a significantly lighter array of parachutes on the nose assembly.

The follow-up design, the Mark-VII "Mars Snooper", added an elongated nose for more internal area, and replaced the older-design ion drive for a nuclear rocket. The Mars Snooper became the prototype for later scoutship designs. The follow-up to the Mars Snooper was the Orion-class scoutship, which became one of the most common types of its era.

Despite countless improvements over the decades, the limitations of the Size-2 hull simply could not be overcome; Clarionese humans adapted a HS-3 courier to mount two engines, creating the first modern Scout-class vessel.

Sathar Scoutships[]

The Sathar, in their pursuit of a design similar to the Assault Scout, modified shuttlecraft for interstellar travel by replacing their chemical rockets with an atomic drive and upgrading the navigation suite and life support equipment. Their shuttle origins are evident in their atmospheric wings and "horizontal" layout, allowing the craft to land on a planet's surface and leading to speculation that the Sathar atmoprobes are not as sophisticated as those of the UPF.

The Sathar use these scoutships in a similar manner to the UPF, along with older-model fighter carriers modified to handle scoutships.

UPFS Backdoor is one such scoutship; captured by the crew of the Research Ship UPFS Eleanor Moraes in what came to be known as the Eleanor Moraes Incident. Following the Battle of Liberty, Backdoor was brought back to Frontier Space, where it was examined by scientists and engineers, who determined it to be a dead-end design modified, as suspected, from a shuttlecraft.


Notes & References[]

(The Sathar Scout Ship cited from Knight Hawks Module #3: Face the Enemy)
("Mark-1" - called "Space Scout" - was taken from The Answer to the Space Flight Challenge by Frank Tinsley (1958), and was designed by G. Harry Stine in the early 1950s. The "Mars Snooper" was designed for Estes model rocket company by G. Harry Stine in 1971. Information cited form Atomic Rockets)
(The Orion, Exploration, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Lander, Snub, Byule Fule, and Starfox class scoutship are designed by Ragnarr, form Ragnarr's Ships & Bots)