Equipment

Most ships can be retrofitted with a variety of different equipment to suit various flight styles, roles, and budgets. The standard loadout for most new Ringdivers is a second-hand Rosatom-Antonov K37 TNTRL mining barge outfitted with a mass driver for cracking asteroids. Many pilots will soon find this arrangement lacking, either in agility, endurance, reliability, asteroid cracking power, or any of the various other parameters they find themselves optimising - the K37 might be robust but modern technology has come a long way, and once you start fitting some newer equipment you'll find your revenue climbing very, very quickly!

Thanks to a fairly high degree of convergent evolution, many systems from many manufacturers can be installed into most ships without much trouble. Like the hot-rodders of Earth's history, engineers today can transplant maneuvering thrusters, turbogenerators, even avionics systems and autopilots from more modern ships into the old K37. Recently, Enceladus' engineers have even been working on retrofitting entire nuclear cores and main drive systems, though the highly integrated nature of these systems have prevented such swaps from being simple.

While the range of engines and reactors and fuel pumps and radars and drones and armour and generators and flight computers available to the wider market around Sol is truly dizzying, the gear you'll tend to find available and installed on mining ships here in The Rings is a bit more limited. This is mostly due to practicality - there is little use for ion engines, solar panels or missile launchers here, though legal restrictions are also a factor - some of the most dangerous and interesting technology is kept away from miners by licensing and insurance requirements.

RCS Thrusters

Generally, thrusters have three parameters you're likely to care about. Most important is thrust as this directly affects how your ship's maneuverability. Second is the exhaust velocity - higher exhaust velocities can be considered more “fuel efficient” - accelerating and turning require less propellant if your thrusters have a higher exhaust velocity. Third and finally, is energy consumption - all thrusters need some input power at least to power their fuel pumps, and most also need additional energy for various other mechanical purposes.

With most thrusters, there are trade-offs between thrust (acceleration), exhaust velocity (fuel efficiency), and reliability. Because dV: Rings Of Saturn obeys real-world physics, thrusters have to obey some fundamental laws, some of which are obvious and some of which aren't, so we'll try to get into more detail on these rules in each of the relevant articles.

A quick summary table of the RCS thrusters we currently have data for in dV: Rings Of Saturn is below:

Design Manufacturer Model Thrust Exhaust velocity
NTER Rosatom-Antonov RA-K37 200kN 15km/s
NTER Rosatom-Antonov RA-K44 400kN 15km/s
NTER Mitsubishi-Airbus MA150HO 150kN 30km/s
NTR Nakamura Dynamics NDSTR 600kN 7km/s

There is no “best” thruster loadout - some pilots prefer the low thrust of the MA150HO for its stellar fuel efficiency and reliability, while some pilots prefer the raw power of the pure-thermal NDSTR, and just accept that they'll burn a prodigious amount of propellant.

External modular equipment

Currently there are several completely different classes of equipment which can be fitted to heavy hardpoints like those on the K37's dorsal surface. Most commonly, ships in the rings will be seen with some kind of mining equipment. The current state of the art in asteroid cracking consists of high velocity coilguns, specially tuned microwave emitters, and high-intensity mining lasers, while various designs of drones and accompanying drone bays are available as utility devices. As with thrusters, there is no absolute “best”, only what works best for your mining operation.

Asteroid cracking

You can't make a fortune without breaking some rocks! Regardless of how you like to fly, sooner or later you're going to have to split some asteroids apart to get at the precious minerals inside. Saturn's asteroids are made mostly of nearly worthless water ice, so engineers across the system have produced an array of powerful tools to help you get the minerals you need to pay the bills. The destructive power of this equipment can't be denied, so be careful when mining! While directed energy weapons like the mining laser and microwave will dissipate at range, you still won't make any friends by firing any of these at other ships.

Utility equipment and drones

It's one thing to dive into the rings and shatter every asteroid within a kilometer radius, but a good Ringdiver is able to do more than just pop rocks. Using modern drone systems, you can prevent those precious ores from escaping, and patch up all sorts of ship damage, everything from the benign misaligned thruster to the dreaded reactor leak. While these drone bays will take up a valuable hardpoint on your ship, there's no denying the importance of being able to patch yourself up in the field if you catch a stray mass driver round, or the pleasure of watching a swarm of tug drones catch all those minerals you'd otherwise be scattering around the rings for everyone else to take.

Avionics and autopilots

The K37 might be an old gem, but spacecraft get their foresight from sensor packages and computers, not from the wisdom of age. Since the ship's introduction at the tail end of the 22nd century, it's fair to say the state of the art has advanced a little.

Today's flight computers offer obstacle detection and tracking, collision alerting, adaptive controls to compensate for shifting center of mass, emergency thrust overrides for autopilots, and more. With one of these avionics suites installed, you'll be able to fly around The Rings with confidence the K37's engineers could only have dreamt of!

A very brief summary of currently available sensor suites and autopilots for the K37 are below:

Manufacturer Model Notes
Minding LF Basic Autopilot Capable of maintaining a target orientation and velocity
Mitsubishi-Airbus Adaptive Autopilot As above, plus improved handling and includes proximity alert overlay on HUD
Nakamura Dynamics Military Autopilot Improved handling plus trajectory analysis and collision alerting on HUD

Sensors and recon drones

While the density of the rings makes it very difficult for a pilot to see anything useful with their own eyes, The Rings are - perhaps surprisingly - a very thin disk only about 10 meters thick. Because of their 2D nature, the most popular way to observe the nearby area around a ship is using remote camera drones. Most such drones are quite minimal - just a high resolution camera with powerful optics, a modest propulsion system, and a data link to the parent ship - though more advanced drones are available.

Currently only two drones especially popular among Ringdivers are the Recon Drone and the Microseismic Drone, both manufactured by Obonto Micro Engineering.

Factory-fitted K37 systems

Please see Rosatom-Antonov K37-TNTRL for full information.

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