Starlark, The

Starlark 2
Image from Steve Bowers
The Starlark in Deep Space

The Starlark was one of a numerous class of ships built after the Great Expulsion, as the population of Earth sought refuge in the worlds and habitats of the Solar System and among the stars.

Other members of this class included the Skylark of Valeron, the Sanderling, the Nightlark (lost in transit), the Great Northern, the Swift (also lost) and the Shorelark. The StarLark arrived at Epsilon Indi in 764 a.t., but the small colony already established there ('Tierra del Fuego') by the Prudence Foundation was in political turmoil; many of the defrosted refugees were taken for slaves, and the ship itself commandeered by the local government. Following a coup the Starlark was refuelled and set off into interstellar space once again, this time taking half the former government of del Fuego into exile, and a cargo of cloned zygotes.

Over the next two thousand years the Starlark journeyed through the Inner Sphere, as the Eridanus League, the Doran Empire, the Virginis Combine, and the First Federation developed around them; this ship became one of the first relativistic traders carrying colonists, genetic material, technology and information from star to star. After many upgrades the ship was eventually capable of one third lightspeed, and embarked on a new career as a trader within the Middle Regions. After the ship was eventually retired at Argelander in 2889 several nanotech replicas of this famous ship (with advanced monopole drive systems) were built and continued to trade in the NoCoZo and Communion of Worlds until after the Version War.

Image from Steve Bowers
The Starlark prepares to leave Anomie

The Starlark was 1200 metres long without shields, and built of lightweight carbon-titanium composites; its mass without fuel was 2 million tonnes, and with fuel (including external tanks) 200 million tonnes.

With four powerful antimatter-catalysed fusion motors and massive external propellant tanks during the acceleration phase, the Starlark (when first built) could reach ten percent of light speed. A superbright ship's brain known as Fred Hoyle controlled the daily operation of the ship, with a human crew as back-up working in shifts throughout the voyage.

Starlark with radiators extended
Image from Steve Bowers
The Starlark with its droplet radiators fully extended

Antimatter for fusion catalysis was obtained from the extensive solar amat farms in the inner Solar System; the Goddess of Earth was in control of the antimatter-production facilities, and allowed certain ships to use amat drive to facilitate the diaspora of Humanity into interstellar space. When leaving the Solar System for the first time, the Starlark was assisted by GAIA's boostbeam. These so-called "backyarder" ships were hastily designed and built, and several failed to reach their destinations. Additionally the cryostasis hibernation technology available at that time was not entirely reliable, and a proportion of the refugees stored in the central hold did not survive, or suffered various kinds of brain damage and other ill effects. Later in the history of this long-serving vessel more advanced nanostasis technology allowed a near-total survival rate, just as upgraded drive systems decreased the average time between stars.

Some examples of Orion's Arm spaceships
Size comparison chart of spaceships used at various times in the Terragen Sphere (including the Starlark)
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 13 September 2005.

Additional Information
Fiction about the Starlark

The voyages of the Starlark - a blog