The modern Sirian venture into space began slightly over a century ago, with the launch of Bolvintian astronaut Valentine Seaskimmer into orbit. However, Sirian’s space technology is built on the shoulders of salvaged Zuxian science and technology that survived the Cataclysm. Following the Inferno, Zuxian technology has become unreliable, frequently self-destructing, causing serious harm to anyone around it, and more advanced Zuxian science is still beyond modern understanding. Because of this, the backbone of Sirian space industry is conventional space technology, properly understood by scientists and engineered using modern, available methods.
An excellent source for reading about near-future space technology is Atomic Rockets, here: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/index.php
Power & Propulsion
Because of the youth of the Sirian System it is rich with radioactive isotopes. Sirians utilize both fission reactors (ideal for long-term, low-power uses, such as long-range craft) and fusion reactors (ideal for shorter, hotter applications).
Fissile materials are provided from massive surface boreholes and mines. Due to The Crowned attacks, these boreholes have become particularly important. The Treatise Body has been looking to secure additional, off-planet sources of uranium and thorium, but this has been tempered by more immediate concerns. The Treatise Body is continuing to use its reserves of fissile materials more quickly than it is producing it.
Fusion power is provided mostly by D/D or D/T reactions, although Bolvinitia boasts several carrier craft which operate on the more powerful D/He3 reactions. Deuterium and tritium is provided almost exclusively from two Bolvintian heavy water facilities in the ocean. Due to their distance from the land, they’ve been unaffected by most of the events on the planet. Helium-3 is primarily captured through deep boreholes, with specialized equipment. He3 has never been mined in sufficient quantities to meet demand. It is hoped that the facility on Ardiel may provide additional He3.
Nuclear power is paired up with thermal rockets or ion drives, depending on their intended use.
Sirian does not have a sufficient magnetic field to make collection of anti-matter economically feasible. Galanor experimented with anti-matter production on a large scale planetside, but ceased operations shortly prior to the Inferno. If restarted, this production would be a form of energy storage, not energy production. It is suspected there may have been a Zuxian anti-matter production facility on Raeda. If that could be recovered, it would be a huge boon to humanity, but the expense in mounting such an expedition make it currently untenable. There are no known anti-matter power plants in use currently. Several of the northern nations do still maintain extremely destructive anti-matter weapons.
Sirian has very little in the way of naturally occurring fossil fuels. However, due to their low cost, relative safety, and usefulness, Sirians do capture and produce chemicals such as methane, kerosene, biodiesel, aluminum, and hydrogen for the purpose of operating power plants, powering ships, etc. As they provide less thrust and ISP as other propulsion methods, they are usually used for small or disposable craft, where cost is a concern, or where maintaining a nuclear plant is unfeasible.
Renewable Resources and Nuclear Decay
Sirians have historically relied on renewable resources such as solar and wind power. In space, wind power is not feasible, but some small probes rely on radioactive decay to provide heat and electrical power or solar sails for propulsion. While extremely efficient, producing ‘free’ energy almost indefinitely, that energy is orders of magnitude weaker than what is available from other methods.
The most common ship weapon are traditional “slug throwers”, using either chemical or electromagnetic acceleration. These are traditional guns, albeit upgraded with modern technology. Almost every independently-operating ship will have one or more of these, augmented with small lasers as a point-defense system against incoming debris. Military ships deploy missiles and rockets. Weapons-grade lasers are uncommon, as they are less effective in atmosphere than ballistic weapons, and there is little history of ship-to-ship combat in orbit. Electronic warfare is well developed. Electromagnetic radiation may be employed to jam communications and sensors, and even to destroy unshielded electronics. Several nations maintain nuclear or antimatter arsenals. Using them in the current political climate would probably be seen as wasteful and frowned upon.
Most ships are only equipped with a few hours or days of life support, in order to reduce the ship’s mass and increase its performance. Gravity is very uncommon, except in capital ships and stations that can sacrifice the space and performance for bulky, spinning habitats.
Modern Sirians are the descendants of the original Zuxian colonists. In order to travel the great interstellar distance to Sirian Planet the Zuxians genetically modified themselves, to make them more resistant to radiation and better adapted to Microgravity Most Sirians still have these traits, making them better adapted to life in space. In practice, the differences are minor enough to not be noticed in day-to-day interactions, but the reduced shielding and life support requirements mean most ships are lighter and perform better than they would were they designed for unaugmented humans.
For centuries, especially in the south, the most commonly implemented space technology was what had been scavenged from Zuxian sites. While Zuxian technology could sometimes be jury-rigged into functionality, understanding or replicating it proved impossible. It is believed that the Zuxians had mastered femtotechnology, gravitons, and space-time warps. Two Zuxian starships were successfully returned to service before the Inferno. With the Inferno, for reasons just as mysterious as what drives the technology itself, Zuxian relics began to misfire, sometimes in devastating ways. In many cases, the Zuxian technology is too critical to abandon, and so people use it knowing it is only a matter of time before it kills them. Whenever feasible, the Zuxian technology is replaced with modern equivalents. In the case of the two Zuxian starships, they are limited to dock at Station Prime until the cause of the Inferno can be better understood.