Technology 112 - Hatches, Portals and How to Get About Inside

It might seem like a rather banal subject but the methodologies of the essential methods of moving inside the ship do deserve some time.

Hatches and Portals

Generally the hatches of starships are geared to retract very quickly into an overhead cavity. In multi-decked ships these tend to simply retract into pockets within the walls of the decks above. In single deck ships, where there is space they retract into the much thicker hull, or one of several techniques are used to move the hatch into a horizontal position over the hatchway. Most commonly the hatch is segmented, and each segment simply rotates as it is brought upwards. More exotically some ship hatches are made from memory metals which allow them to contort through tight spaces. In rare cases when none of these options is practical a very few hatches actually move sideways into wall sockets. Of course these measures mean there are complicated pneumatics, hinging mechanisms and electrics packed into the space above a hatchway.

When the hatch in question has to be secure this is accomplished in several ways. Firstly a simple lock may be fitted. These can be wildly different in mechanism and complexity. If that isn't sufficient a security field can be emplaced which holds the hatch securely in position. These fields are typically operated from controls away from the hatch itself. If these are still insufficient, hatches can be physically prevented from opening by placing an object into the retract cavity.

If the aim of the security is less preventing access but instead making an area safer a hatch can be fitted instead. These are heavy swing doors which use physical constraints to lock into place and securely form a plug. On larger starships these are usually blast doors, which use layers of sub-doors to form a barrier designed to protect against a variety of bad situations, ranging from fire to ordinance detonations. Due to their weight blast doors typically move horizontally.

The Deck

Every starship requires some deck or other. These rather simple surfaces provide a means by which the occupants do not fall into interesting and invariably dangerous technologies.

The most simple kind of deck is a simple non-skid metalplate. However these are really quite rare now, and it is far more usual for a plate to be a laminar of two or more technologies. The first layer after the non-skid is often the basic artificial gravity system. Modern materials are capable of generating a low gravity (.2-5G) field with only a very small current fed through the static power systems. A tiny micro-processor is usually in place allowing the panel to talk to the gravity control software. After that often a simple locking field may be used, also fed by the static power systems, allowing the plate to be lifted with ease if needed. Otherwise the plates are secured with standard bolts. More upmarket floor plates may be heated. Because most AG is fed through the deckplates when these are fitted at an angle local gravity is similarly angled.

Cargo deck plates are slightly different, they're much heavier and tend to be grids rather than literal plates. Cargo plates usually feature standardised cargo securing fittings in place, allowing the securing of normal cargo lanyards or webbing. The artificial gravity elements, if present, are souped up to provide extra protection against cargo slippage. Cargo plates are almost always kept in place with physical restraints.

Portals

These are the windows of starships. Usually made from impact resistant plastics or laminars these areas are perhaps the weakest parts of a ship. Because they're easy to damage most starships try to reduce the amount of portals to a comfortable minimum. This tendency is only compounded by the fact that starships route much of their workings close to the hull, and portals are areas where these essential elements cannot pass, and instead have to be routed around them.