Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to Create a Space Ship

Now that we've discussed how to create a fictional space ship based on ships that exist today, let's review.

Engineering Department makes the ship move by an engine of any number of possible technilogies as well as electrically powered and maintained by various divisional workshops.

Operations Department keeps the ship on the correct course, manages the weapons on ship, and maintains traditional entrance procedures.

The smaller departments may seem easy to overlook, but each has its use. The Air Department would maintain and run any small craft or fighter crafts used by the main ship. Deck Department is the one that gets all the painting, preservation, and docking jobs so the other departments can afford to be specialized and focus on their job. The Administration Department keeps up the crews' records and makes sure they get all the awards they're entitled to.

The other set of departments on ship are also important. The Health Department keeps everyone healthy and out of pain while the Communications Department keeps the ship connected to the outside world and keeps communications running smoothly inside the ship. The Supply Department keeps everyone fed and makes sure they have all the repair parts and supplies they need for however long the ship is away from its homeport.

The next set of posts on what the crew needs on a ship may not fit in any department but moral lifters are a huge part of ship life and should not be overlooked if your crew is to be happy, or at least content, on ship. Some more things to keep in mind when creating a space ship are how your crew will advance and what currency your ship uses.

But what if you decide to have family or civilians on ship? The last set of posts discuss the idea and are interesting to read if you plan to have families on board. Families need different sleeping quarters, healthcare, and specail conciderations for the schooling of children and young adults as well as having a laboratory on ship to teach science correctly. You will also need to think about an area kids can have physical activity to build coordination, what sports are encouraged on ship for older children, and how many sports can be played on one field or court to save space on ship.

One last thing I want you to think about when creating your space ship is that there are many types of ships out there. Just because exploration or military ships are most often depicted on movies and television doesn't mean that there aren't cargo ships, cruise ships, transportation ships, colonization ships, ships the rich keep as private homes, and scientific ships people don't see or hear of for years on scientific expierements or studies that may change the way life is or may never amount to anything. If you can dream up a type of ship and make it work with the facts and rooms I've presented here, your stories are limited only by your imagination.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Currency in Space

Something I should have spoken about at the beginning of the crew area, especially when I spoke of the ship store and vending machines was what currency your ship has. Most futuristic shows, movies, and books suggest that people will pay by a chip in their hand or a version of the modern credit card that they merely hand to the vendor and the money is automatically taken out of their account. The US Navy uses a similar concept on their ships where cash is rarely used and no longer necessary. Another idea is in the Star Trek series where money seems to have no use inside parts the Federation but they use Lithium as cash outside the Federation. However you decide to handle money on ship you can be sure that it will come up at least once in your story, unless your culture is very non-materialistic or never trades with other cultures.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Advancement on Ship

Now that we’ve gone through the basics of creating a ship for the crew and families, let’s talk about something more to do with ship life than the ship itself and that is promotion. In modern naval ships promotion comes by a variety of things to include semiannual performance evaluations from the boss on things like work done, teamwork, leadership, and classes done. One of the easiest ways to stand out from the other people across the navy is to have finished college or in-job classes in the last quarter. Education is considered an effective way to judge ambition and the ability to handle responsibility, even though many people focus more on their education than their actual job.
What you should really consider before planning your ship and story further is how your people will get promoted and what jobs or titles do they want to get promoted to? What are your officer ranks? What are your enlisted ranks? Do you have both on ship or just one system? If you have both, what is the distinction? In the modern military the basic distinction is that officers have a college degree or filled out papers as an enlisted and was chosen to be an officer. Many enlisted people also have degrees but they got them while enlisted or chose to be enlisted instead of officer.
Something else to think about while creating your fictional space ship is how your crew were trained. Were they forced to go through a special school to be allowed too work in the job they want or were they trained through working their way from newbie to boss in their chosen job? If they were trained at a school, where was it?
Some examples on how people could be trained would be the Star Trek shows where everyone is trained at the massive Academy above Earth or the modern military which trains people all over the states depending on what their chosen rating is. Training is often a fond memory of the person, more for the carefree atmosphere of students than for the actual classes. How many times have you heard people recounting their college experiences? Such stories can create instant bonds or cause massive rifts that can bring interesting side stories to the main plot.

Monday, March 21, 2011

One Court, Many Games

Once children get into high school they have probably tried a lot of sports and have decided which ones they want to focus on and be really good at. However, it’s hard to be good at sports now a days just by playing the sport. Most high schools and colleges have developed a program which combines running, playing the sport to learn the techniques, and weightlifting in order to stay competitive. Having a weight room on ship is a good idea because not only will the high school and college age young adults use the room but most adults don’t do any exercise outside the modern membership gym which is often just machines and weights. Having a weight room would keep the testosterone down on ship which could keep down tensions that could lead to fights and disciplinary problems among the crew as well as help the children develop a lifelong habit of fitness so everyone benefits.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sports for Children

When children get out of kindergarten they still need to learn coordination but they now get to the age where their hands and feet obey their mind. Now they need to build strength, speed, and do more detailed things to develop better coordination. That is where sports come in. The different sports give children a reason to run, throw things, and kick things without getting in trouble. As they grow up children learn to aim with their feet and hands to earn praise from their parents. As they grow older they learn to be the fastest and most precise in order to be the best and earn praise from everyone as well as have a sense of pride in their actions.
As ship and culture creator, you need to decide what sports your ship and culture emphasis. Here is a list of sports recognized by most people. True, many of these sports can’t be done very easily in the confines of a space ship, unless you count virtual reality rooms, but there are a lot of sports for you to chose from or adjust your own sport from a few already around. After all, kids are always trying new things and trying to be cool by thinking up a new sport. Bear in mind that one court or field can hold a lot of sports. Things like soccer and American football have the same lines on the field and often volleyball and basketball are played on the same court, just at different times. Many sports stadiums are designed to hold a concert one day, a football game the next, and a basketball tournament the next day. You could always have one large room with adjustable stadium seating and storage rooms with different mats. That way you could allow the children on your ship to learn a large number of sports and not get focused on one sport out of boredom.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kid's Area on Ship

Every parent knows that children need somewhere to play and run off energy. Most apartment buildings in developed countries have their own jungle gym of some sort for the young children living there or are very close to a park with a jungle gym for them to play on. Young children need to be able to move and climb and swing and play in order to develop full use of their limbs and coordination. If you plan to have young children on your ship, even for a little time, you will need to have a place for children to crawl or walk around to various toys and structures with other children near their own age while their parents watch nearby or a babysitter does.
This may also be a good time to mention that many of the children that work on ship will likely have parents that work at least a few hours a day. Those children will need somewhere to go and you should probably have some sort of daycare plan set up or a network of parents that have it set up so someone is always awake enough to watch whatever children are unsupervised while their parents work. It may be easiest to set up a room where the younger children are watched by the older children and the older children have some incentive, such as money or computer access, to not wander off and leave the children alone.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Having a Laboratory on Ship

No matter how you decide to do your schooling on ship if there is any version on board you need some sort of laboratory. Schools, especially high schools and colleges, will not accept science credits without a laboratory part of the class. How you do your laboratory on ship is up to you. You could have a room on board that is extra insulated in case of explosions or other mishaps or you could have some sort of virtual reality rooms or goggles that mimic what should happen. There are two things to keep in mind when you think about how to create your laboratory though. The first one is that children rarely listen and they love to play around. Even if you have the room securely insulated, you may still want to position it next to the hull. That way if the room does explode for some reason it can be quickly sealed without causing too much damage to the rest of the ship. The second thing to keep in mind is that not only will the children be using the room for schooling but the doctors and scientists on ship will likely want to do experiments in there as well. You should also figure out how the room will be scheduled. I would recommend that during school hours the room is reserved but other than that there is a first come first served in non-school hours or if there are just a few scientists on board maybe they will be content with a fixed schedule. If they have a fixed schedule than they can always switch hours or loan out their hours if they have more research to do before doing an experiment.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Independant Study on Ship

The good thing about high school and college students are that they are mare capable of studying on their own. That means there are a lot more options for their schooling than the younger children may have in the future. Ships that stay close to the ruling government or near large civilized areas can have a version of modern online courses where the teacher chats for an hour or two a week with a class of people on any number of ships before assigning the weekly assignment and the students can ask each other questions through email or the forum. There is also the option that the teacher merely sends out the textbook and the students are expected to email their assignments by the due date each week with a forum for questions. Another option is that there are yearly tests with bibliographies sent out to everyone that passes the last test. The students are expected to read the textbooks and keep up on current events at their own pace in order to pass the tests. If the students pass the test they go on to the next grade level test, if not they don’t pass their test and stay in the same grade. That may work best if the ship will be far from regular culture or if the communications are difficult to get working on the ship but it puts a lot of pressure on the parents to be sure their child id actually studying while the parents work instead of playing games all day. You may also choose to just have a teacher for each age group on ship and a regular school day with homework afterwards. You may even decide to send the students old enough to go to high school or college off ship to an actual school house planetside somewhere. The choice is yours as you create your own fictional space ship but remember that even the smallest detail can make the setting believable and how school is done can effect memories your character may have.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Schooling in the Future

We’ve talked about a ship with children needing family sized living quarters and more medical and dental facilities than a ship without children. The next thing to think about is how long the children will be on the ship. For ships that plan to house children fulltime, some sort of schooling system is needed, but for ships that only transport children and people don’t stay on ship for more than a month or two, a schooling system isn’t necessary.
For those that decide they need schooling they should start with the lower grades, such as kindergarten to 8th grade. There are a few ways you could set up to give them schooling. You could set up a few school rooms for certain ages with a number of teachers or if you have only a few children on ship you could set up one teacher to teach all ages. However, remember that younger children learn at a slower pace and need more guidance than older children. Years ago in the pioneer era all the town children were taught in the same room by one teacher. However the children didn’t start attending the schoolhouse until they were about six and the older children were given reading assignments to do while the teacher worked with the younger children, teaching them to read aloud and do math while checking the older children’s work every once in a while.
Another way to do schooling is by independent study courses set up by a centralized board of education and done on computers. However, younger children will find it hard to learn by staring at a computer screen and pressing buttons. If you’ve been to an American toy store lately you may have noticed a trend that suggests eventually kids will have toys aimed more at education than fun, although the children won’t realize it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Family Healthcare on Ship

If we are going with the assumption that you’ve decided to put families and children on your fictional ship, whether it’s a colonization ship, a school ship, or a deep space exploration ship such as the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation, you need to think about medical and dental care. While a ship carrying just a crew of adults could get away with the minimum amount of healthcare a ship carrying children needs more. Not only do children get hurt more due to their natural curiosity, lack of experience on how to soften a fall, thinner bones, and weaker immune systems but they also need different specialty doctors and equipment at different ages. It would probably be best to have an OBGN on board for growing girls, healthy wives, and pregnant wives or girlfriends as well as a pediatrician and pedodontist for the children on board.