the CHS Hawking is a new type of exploration ship. She was laid down in 175445, and was completed in 175448. Advances in computer technology meant that large amounts of space was no longer required to house science suites, and the massive arrays of hardware commonplace in the 12000s could now fit into a relatively tiny 2x2 meter space. This freed up massive amounts of room for a new experimental wormhole drive technology.
Length: 2 Kilometers
Width: 0.67 Kilometers
Height: 0.78 Kilometers
Ship areas: 9 Hab-rings in 3 groups around the central structure, containing living and recreation areas. Each one is around 0.1 kilometers in livable diameter. The 3 fore-most ones contain the bridge. There are also storage and fuel areas as well. The main propulsion systems are controlled from a manned engineering suite built into the body of the main sublight engine. The front 3 hab-rings can also break away from the rest of the ship in the event it is destroyed, and can then function as a station.
Defense capability: 4 50-Petawatt laser banks.
Armor rating: No traditional armor, although she utilizes a powerful magnetic array to deflect incoming projectiles.
Shield Rating: 10 out of 10. This ship was among the first to equip a highly-experimental invulnerable shield emitter, which can be broken, although it took an armada of ships to do so. It was specifically designed for science and exploration ships, since some races in the galaxy have proven to be extremely hostile, and every new contact has a chance to nullify even this system obsolete. Therefore, it was better to err on the side of caution in this case.
With the complete shutdown of the ancient WDS Isvoy, a new ship was needed to continue exploring the unknown. The first design committee meeting was held in July of 175399, and it was determined to use some cutting-edge technology in the construction of the ship. She was laid down at the Confederacy of Borealis' orbiting shipyard in Mars orbit. Secrecy was so high during construction that she actually operated as a station before the main engines were fitted - station goers never knew about the ship until she was revealed.
Aside from the standard warp drive ring and impulse engines, the Hawking employs 2 extremely powerful Wormhole Emitters. Unlike ancient ships that just tore open a wormhole in two places, this system uses the interaction of two connected tiny wormholes extremely close together to propel the ship through as of yet unknown means. This new propulsion method is at least five times as fast as the previous leap in this technology, and is considered vastly more efficient even though it takes a massive amount of electrical power to keep the generators functioning.
What engineers believe happens, is when two wormholes form extremely close together, their gravitational interaction causes a reverse bowshock in space time which trails behind the ship for some kilometers. At the apoapsis of this wave, spacetime becomes so contorted that it actually "snaps", exponentially increasing the energy fed into the system by a factor of a million times or more. The actual "thrust" that propels the ship in this mode is actually composed of ripples of spacetime eminating from the broken wave.
The main three sublight engines are nuclear powered, and have a top speed of 0.78 times the speed of light. A design committee decided to seperate the sublight engines power source from the warp drive and wormhole drive's power source in order to streamline the construction process, and both seperate power grids have their own energy source.
The main power for the Hawking that drives the warp and wormhole drives is derived from what is known as a Planck Star. This power source is artificially created, and is 3cm in diameter. It resides in a special round chamber 1 meter in diameter in the center of the ship, and is kept stable by powerful electromagnets. If it were not for this containment, it would rapidly disintigrate into a black hole. Despite this, there is no threat that it would ever do so aboard the vessel. Power is converted through the usage of 6 finely-tuned Gravitic Generators, that interact with the gravity given off by the star and themselves to create massive amounts of energy.
Installing the entire star assembly was another matter entirely. While it has no chance of disintigrating within the ship, from creation to installation it was so dangerous that only highly-qualified personnel were allowed even 1km from the assembly at all times. Even manufacturing had it's dangers and was a very deadly job, with 36 workers dying of acute radiation poisoning via the method used to construct it.
The power source for the nuclear Sublight engines is a small pellet of an extremely radioactive element that strangely does not exhibit any decay, known as Prismium, named for the extremely colorful sheen it exhibits. It is believed that the decay products of this material actually leak into another universe entirely, only appearing in this universe not to exhibit any decay. However, this cannot be directly confirmed and is thus heresy. The engine gets its power from the intense heat generated by the Prismium, driving advanced forms of the ancient steam turbine that spin at near the speed of light.
"The Atriums" is the name given to the biological life sciences study area aboard the ship, and it also doubles as a relaxation and recreation area on the ship. It contains 18 20m x 20m x 40m holding cells where the atmosphere within can be adjusted to host virtually any type of life. Civilians can use this area for recreation, but should they desire to commune with nature within a holding cell that is actively being studied, a special wavier from the captain is required. At any given time, 8 of these holding areas are actively being studied, with the rest open for relaxation activities.
The Hawking was launched in August of 175450, with an initial shakedown cruise to Earth, where the commissioning ceremony took place. Billions of people were in attendance, mostly Confederacy of Borealis employees, who were excited to see a brand new exploration vessel come to fruition. She was also given her name here; the master of ceremonies actual naming speech is as follows:
"Black holes. From Humanities' first detection, they have mystified us. We would not have the technology we have today if it was not for one man who lived eons ago, who tirelessly lifted the veil on these strange stellar objects, who, up until his death, continued to lead the charge in trying to figure out exactly what they were. This man went by the name Stephen Hawking, and he was a brilliant professor in our earliest days. He was also correct about extraterrestrial life, of which we now know there are billions of such species in the galaxy. So, therefore...it is with complete joy and exhuberation that I christen this new beautiful vessel...the CHS Hawking!"
Then, a vintage bottle of 2070s wine was shot at the ship, and shattered on the hull, which triggered a large departure ceremony, with thousands of small ships following her until she activated her warp drive and dissapeared into the black.