– Cropships vary in size from 5-10km in diameter.
– The living / growing area is usually circular or oval.
– The top is domed, usually 1-2 km high. It can be made transparent in order to harness sunlight when close to a suitable star. The dome has been opaqued for travel in deep space, to prevent everyone from freaking out.
– The bottom is flat.
– They resemble giant snowglobes.
– Cropships are surrounded by a cloud of much smaller transport / support / transient vessels, this extends out to about 2-3x their diameter.
– They are separated by a minimum of 20x their diameter at all times (so around 10km x 50 = 1000km). This is an absolute minimum, enforced due to high velocities of surrounding ships, also danger of sabotage / explosion. This separation helps keep other ships from suffering (much) damage in case of disaster.
– Out to this distance (1000km) the entire sphere of space is monitored by the cropship control. This area is under their jurisdiction, tightly controlled, and policed.
– The overall arrangement of the fleet is like a grid of ping-pong balls (1 per cropship) packed into a spherical mould (the Great Sphere). Then twelve of these great spherical moulds are packed round the edges of a larger sphere (the Empire) like larger ping-pong balls. The space at the centre of the megasphere contains the Throne Ship, which itself is surrounded by a wide, flat ring – the First Ship of the Realm. Being at the centre of the fleet, the Emperor is protected from the worst of the possible damage caused by interstellar debris – most of it will hit the cropships instead.
– Official imperial traffic is permitted to travel between ships via direct routes – ie it can cross the cropships’ spheres of influence. The traffic controllers co-ordinate this. Any unauthorised vessels within this space may be destroyed without notice.
– Independent transport vessels are not allowed to cross spheres, nor travel through the centre of the Imperial megasphere (a sphere that encloses all the others and defines the boundaries of the Empire).
– Independent vessels must travel between cropships via the outside of this space – the outermost sphere only. This is usually a curved path. When entering / leaving a cropship jurisdiction, they are subject to the controllers’ orders; outside, they are not.
– Alternatively, they could apply for an internal (direct) route. They will have to wait for days while their application is processed. Then, permitted velocity is much less via direct routes.
– This means the long way round can be much greater – there are no rules. However, outside the megasphere lurk pirates.
– Power source is PEG (Pearle Electromagnetic Generator) variant – it sucks energy from the vacuum (the Long Yu culture does not know this).
– The PEG provides power to spin an array of giant discs beneath the ship. This generates artificial gravity, which is useful for growing crops.
– Drive can also provide a small amount of thrust – enough for gentle manoeuvring of the ship to catch the maximum amount of sunlight.
Fusion (added by Long Yu Culture)
– Cropships were never designed for interstellar travel.
– They have been retrofitted with fusion drives.
– Antigravitational effect of PEG on the outside of the craft reduces effective mass / inertia, but cropships are so large the inertia is still considerable.
– Still, a relatively low power fusion drive can produce reasonable acceleration; maybe 1g absolute maximum, but much less than 0.1g sustained.
– Cropship Interior is lined with extremely advanced tech, not understood by the Long Yu culture.
– It’s nanotech: a huge lung-like structure that filters the air, removing toxins etc and recycling them into benign substances, or if necessary ejecting them into space as propellant.
– Beneath the growing surface, a complex network of pipes, valves, filters, fermentation chambers etc processes human (and other) waste. Lots of work is done by nanomachines that live inside various processing tanks within the system.
-The Long Yu culture does not understand much about the nanotech.