Technology 113 - Cargo

Cargo is one of the main reasons anyone goes into space. Several technologies exist to handle cargo, but basically we're talking about...

Crates

There are possibly more designs of crates than there are grains of sand on Tatooine. However, over time the forces of evolution have prevailed to push most designs towards certain common features. The majority of cargo crates in the universe fit more or less into standard catagories of size. These are generally listed by size (in litres) and dimensions (in cms) with codes to determine speciality boxes. Whilst two hundred litre small crates (63cms a side) are fairly common, eight hundred litre (100 cms a side) are the most common. These crates can hold up to around eight metric tons, though most cargoes are far lighter. Larger crate sizes do exist but are rarer as many cargo manipulating systems are generally optimised to metre cube crates. Cargos which exceed these sizes tend to be moved by dedicated vessels, or are sufficiently large that they can be loaded and locked down without a container.
Specialised crates exist to provide environments for some kinds of cargo. Cold crates can freeze the insides to near zero. Hot crates can heat their interiors in a similar fashion.
Most crates feature fittings to allow cargo load droids or other hefting equipment to lock on and shift them.

Filling a crate is a fairly straightforward task, however, stevedores must always remember that any movement inside a crate is dangerous. To that end packing materials or other fillers must be added to difficult cargoes. Often prepackaged crates will feature filling pieces which keep the contents from shifting.

After the cargo is secured within a crate, that crate must be secured within the ship. Initially cargo is physically tied into place with strong cables. Commonly these feature variable pins that fit dedicated sockets in the deckplating. Always care must be taken to balance the cargo between different cargo bays, if there are more than one, or within the cargo bay.

Cargo netting can be used to additionally secure the crates, as well as pallettes often used to group cargoes together for easy movement. When the cargo is in place and properly tied down, the deckplates in the cargo bay are typically enagged in a tractor mode to further clamp the crates down to the deck.

Cargo is typically heavy, and a cargo shifting in flight would almost certainly cause the ship to go out of control as the center of gravity shifts. Every precaution taken to prevent that is time well spent.