Sketches – Sintillan Construction Pods

Shipyard work is hard work, and in space it’s not any easier. While plenty of work is done by shipyard cranes and fixed hardware, they by definition cannot reach everywhere, or are available in enough numbers. And crucially, there just aren’t enough of them in the right places to do what needs to be done. So construction pods take up the slack, as well as any number of additional jobs that need doing around the yards.

Construction pods, or yard pods as they’re also called, are one of the most heavily modified and iterated craft in service. Even pods from the same production series can sometimes look and perform radically different, as they’re modified from their stock specification to meet some new requirement for the job at hand. Even so, they tend to retain several common design elements:

  • Very low independence. The average pod has at best twelve hours of life support, and no provisions for long-term habitation
  • Multiple grappling arms to handle ship components
  • Heavy armouring and buffer systems to mitigate collisions
  • High power, low endurance engines to shift modules

The above pod is the original “Busygin” model, built at the Sintillan orbital shipyard in the years before and during the 1st Contact War, and represents the base design before modifications

True to form, a second construction pod was soon put in service, primarily designed for engineering and construction work as opposed to towing and assembly work. Somewhat smaller, the “Robanin” module had smaller drive systems, but compensated for this by having a much more flexible modular tool mount, allowing for quick(er) swapping between jobs. It lacked the sheer power of the Busygin, but worked well in concert, following in its wake connecting systems and welding hull sections together.

Surprisingly, both designs survived the Sintillan state easily, quickly becoming popular staples in deWulf yards, primarily due to their relative cheapness, durability, and expandable base design. Construction pods were one of the first examples of an “inferior” Sintillan product making heavy inroads into deWulf industrial practices.

The construction pod is a classic sci-fi staple, and I really couldn’t dispense with them. They’re both a replacement of the “individual worker” that is still commonplace even in modern ships, and are the kind of ubiquitous utility truck that moves small loads all over larger workspaces. The first design lends a lot of design notes from smaller tugboats you see at shipyards or more commonly at logging mills, with it being 90% engine, 9% utility hardware, and 1% crew comfort. The latter design strongly resembles the design concepts seen in certain mad eastern-european science machines, but also represents a more “efficient” design that’s better suited to the finer detail work that the first design would inherently struggle with.

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