Sketches – deWulf Lifeboat

In almost continuous manufacture since the beginning of deWulf commercial spaceflight, the C-Series lifeboats represent the current standard of emergency lifesaving technology now in service in deWulf space. While there are more advanced models (and more bare-bones models for the more cost-conscious) in service, the C-Series was what set the standard during the early commercialization of spaceflight.

The current model (more properly identified as the C-12 M26B) is the current product of over thirteen years of spacefaring service, and before that almost four hundred years of oceangoing experience. At its core, the C-Series is a conservative design that makes use of more advanced technology only when it has proven to be reliable and durable. Systems are also overbuilt and made for easy access and maintenance. As a lifeboat can expect to be used in hazardous conditions while potentially “overloaded”, the “excess” capacity is often the difference between life and death for the occupants. Its dual airlock system allows multiple lifeboats to dock together, improving rescue percentages.

Another key survival feature of the C-Series is the support mode. Abandoning ship is a last resort, as a larger vessel, even damaged, is still habitable. All C-Series lifeboats are also equipped with a “Support Mode” that ties the lifeboat’s own systems (power generation, life support) into the ship’s own systems. While this can badly overtax the lifeboats own systems, under guidance of a competent engineer this can provide a buffer to otherwise overtaxed main systems onboard or allow a ship’s primary systems to be brought offline for proper repairs.

I did this whole design on a sunny summer afternoon while I was at a local indie comic event (VanCaf). A friend of mine was exhibiting, and I was there to help pack out her stuff at the end of the day. I had been thinking a lot about life support systems and especially lifeboats. In the real world they’re used because the most common failure state on ships is that they’re sinking. Crew can’t stay on a sinking ship, but in space you don’t have that kind of concern. But lifeboats are still a classic trope, so I can’t really ignore them entirely. So how do I make them useful and relevant? Enter the Support Mode. It also adds a few nice little options for storytelling down the road…

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