An atmospheric flight craft attached to Starfleet Intrepid-class vessels.
Length: 24.8 meters.
Beam: 29.6 meters (full wingspan).
Draft: 4.1 meters.
Rest-Onset Critical Momentum: 10.83 seconds.
Onset Critical Momentum-Warp Engage: 1.47 seconds.
Warp 1-Warp 3: 4.79 seconds.
Warp 3-Warp 5: 6.51 seconds.
The Aeroshuttle shares many systems with the Danube-class runabout, including thruster assemblies, the impulse drive, cockpit configuration, and weapons systems. While the runabout is a faster vessel, the streamlined hull with exaggerated aerodynamic styling and large reinforced wings of the Aeroshuttle make it significantly more efficient in high-speed atmospheric manoeuvring.
Primary Computer System: M-15 Isolinear III Processor.
Primary Navigation System: RAV/ISHAK Mod 3 Warp Celestial Guidance.
Weapons: 4 Type VI Collimated Phaser Arrays; 2 Mk 25 Direct-Fire Photon Microtorpedo Tubes.
Deflector System: FSQ-2 Primary Force Field and Deflector Control System.
The Aeroshuttle launches from a bay on the underside of the Intrepid-class main hull. Under launch conditions, a number of emergency indicator bars light up red around the bay’s interior. These warn of its impending depressurisation. The bars are usually also activated when the Aeroshuttle returns to the ship. To visually aid the approach of the Aeroshuttle back to its shaped recess, there are two large white illuminated banks built into the ceiling of Deck 9. These also act as primary lighting when the ship is docked. On the release of the docking clamps securing the Aeroshuttle in place, it distances itself promptly from the bay, and begins forward motion under its own twin impulse engines. This is important; the relative motion of the mothership could otherwise result in a collision with the rear of the Aeroshuttle.
Creation and Design
Construction and integrated systems followed basic Starfleet standards of the period. Spaceframe and plating includes tritanium, duranium, and polyboranide composites, chosen for their wide availability in distant locations and ease of repair by the crew. Modularity as in runabout-type craft was not required; all ship’s stores and mission-specific gear could be loaded through normal hatches and consumables ports. Most major systems were accessible through hull plates or, in the case of the warp core, could be exposed on the Aeroshuttle exterior. All hull sections vulnerable to possible collision or weapons fire were reinforced structurally, and with shield emitters.
The Aeroshuttle’s warp propulsion system consists of a single racetrack dilithium swirl chamber, two plasma conduits, and twin nacelles with eight verterium titanide coils each. Fuel includes 2,725 kilograms of deuterium in a compartmentalized tank, plus six magnetic containment pods holding a total of 790 kilograms antimatter.
The impulse drive is situated behind each coil set, and shares its deuterium fuel supply. Atmospheric flight often involves the heating of intake gases, requiring lateral scoops which lead through the wings to the impulse chambers. Impulse exhaust can be stored temporarily in a clamshell nozzle for stealth operations, minimizing telltale ion trails. Completing the engine systems are six reaction control thruster blocks, and standard Bussard collectors.
One known problem discovered in the runabout data linked the Bussard collectors with subspace torsional effects from the warp core, potentially leading to catastrophic loss of yaw control. This was eliminated, by modifying the yaw dampers in the Aeroshuttle’s nacelles. Another design issue involved framing stresses on the two large forward windows at speeds over warp 3.5. One by one, all powered flight issues were addressed and solutions devised in what engineers call a “data burn down”. Computer, flight control, and all other medium-energy systems were adapted from proven runabout components. The main computer core was made triply-redundant and given 12 bio-neural gel pack processors to aid in flight control and tactical decision-making. Interestingly, in the event of thruster failure at sublight speeds, a high degree of directional control can be maintained by automatic throttling of each impulse engine. Sensor pallets received upgraded detectors and optical data cabling just prior to commissioning; this increased reliable long range views to 3.2 light years.
Advanced software algorithms allow sensor readings from all-sky views to be synthesized into a complete tactical picture 233 times a second. This allows the Aeroshuttle crew to react to changing situations at least three seconds faster than a runabout in similar settings. Improved hull sensors add to the computer’s awareness of subspace pressure, electromagnetic fields, gravitational forces, and acoustics. The high-energy devices, including defensive shields, navigational deflector, and phasers, draw power directly from the warp core or adjacent EPS capacitors. The shield grid, embedded below the skin, is capable of dissipating Type X phaser energy for up to 63.4 seconds total dwell time, or the equivalent of two standard photon torpedoes detonated at 72 meters. The navigational deflector, proportionally smaller than those on shuttles, emits nearly the same energy as the larger units, and is augmented by biasing shield energy forward. The Type VI phasers, collocated with four pairs of wing sensors for increased aerodynamic efficiency, cover 80 percent of the Aeroshuttle sky. Two microtorpedo launchers are also installed, set within cut-ins slightly outboard of the warp nacelles. Mission loadouts of three different torpedo types can be dropped into the magazines while the Aeroshuttle’s docked with its starship.
Landing and Takeoff
Energy from the impulse system drives both direct-exhaust vents as well as electrostatic air-flow coils, allowing the Aeroshuttle to generate lift at a standstill. While traditional starship and shuttle impulse fields accomplished hovering with brute gravity-cancelling force, airflow manipulation was considered a more elegant solution. The multiple benefits of better fuel use, lower stress, and stealth couldn’t be ignored. Parallel forcefield studies in the Nova-class ultimately led to that vessel’s waverider shuttle.
The Aeroshuttle’s landing gear is a tri-cycle leg system operated by electro-hydraulics. Unlike the Intrepid footpad structure, which only holds the vessel steady while under impulse field support, the shuttle legs support the entire mass of the craft. In case of gear failure, the shuttle can make touchdown on a relatively flat or soft surface with minimal damage to the hull plating.
A standard mission is 2 weeks, while the recommended yard overhaul schedule is every 18 months.
The Aeroshuttle continues to serve Starfleet in various capacities. With continued maintenance and systems upgrades, the craft should continue to fly well into the late-2430s, with transfers to training and science missions near the fourth quarter of its lifetime. Lessons learned with Aeroshuttle and waverider technology are already facilitating new propulsion schemes and vessel configurations. These including subspace-generated power and continuum sail transport. Other innovations will undoubtedly follow.