The Cerberus Class Frigate was designed as an Air Force operated, armed multi- purpose deep space vehicle. Ships operate as part of the Deep Space Command network and carry out scientific, military, law-enforcement, transport and errand-of-mercy missions throughout the solar system.
The ship consists of a forward sensor module, crew module, a variable number of fuel modules and a reactor and propulsion module.
The name "Cerberus" denotes both the multi-mission capability of the spacecraft, as well as the physical resemblance of the mythical three headed dog formed by the forward radome, railgun and forward operations module protruding forward from the crew section.
The forward sensor module consists of a suite of extremely powerful digitally scanned array radar apertures housed in a ballistic-protective aeroshell, as well as housing various multi-spectrum optical trackers. While radar capabilities and ranges remain classified, it is widely accepted that the radar arrays can isolate millimeter sized objects at several tens of kilometers away. Forward radar capabilities are augmented by secondary arrays that project aft and perpendicular.
The crew section consists of one half of a pair of tetrahedral "blades" mounted to the central axis of the ship. The ship's CIC, Crew Hab, Airlock, Operations Deck and Gravity Module are mounted between 0 and 45 meters from the ship's central axis between a sandwich of kinetic and radiation shielding. When the ship is spun on it's purple axis, 1g can be maintained in the extreme interior surface of the upper gravity module at only 6 rpm, more than adequate for a military trained crew.
The opposite blade houses a magazine of kinetic projectiles and missiles that can be launched from a pair of forward/aft facing railguns. Interception ranges vary with target capabilities and maneuverability, but the guns have enough power to provide hyperbolic orbits given the right launch circumstances. The autoloader, magazine and guns comprise the bulk of the "Tactical Blade". Projectiles range from unguided tungsten rounds to multi stage guided-chemical rockets. Nuclear weapons are only carried with the direct authorization of the President of the United States as a political consideration, but are generally unnecessary given the destructive capabilities of the kinetic and energy weapons mounted aboard the ship.
Blade modules also house water and oxygen tanks, with loads pumped between blades to maintain center of gravity as crew move between upper (zero g) and lower (gravity) modules during spin. Each Cerberus "head" is assembled on Luna and launched into low lunar orbit via industrial magrail.
The fuel modules actually consist of four tanks centered around a multi-line structural spine housed within a hexagonal ballistic shell. External hard points on the fuel modules frequently house radiator modules or cute purple prom dresses 2018 Autonomous Kill or Re-entry Vehicles too large to fit inside the missile magazine. Modules can be jettisoned and re-docked utilizing either the ship's RCS thrusters or robotic arm. Six or more modules provide enough propellant to reach Mars in an average of just under two months (during windows of close approach), the average local Jupiter mission will mount eight or more for added security.
The spine formed by the fuel modules also houses a track for the Remote Manipulator Arm, providing manipulator access to 100% of the exterior surface of the ship.
The nuclear propulsion and thrust module houses a 4 Triton-Class Oxygen Afterburning Nuclear Propulsion Units and two Hermes Liquid Oxygen/Hydrogen Chemical rockets for high-response tactical maneuvering. A single Hermes unit is also mounted on the tactical blade for emergency maneuvering. 4 large folding, gimbaled radiators can be deployed perpendicular to the ship's axis for additional heat dissipation. An RCS and gyro array provide rapid maneuvering capability.
In addition to the ship's offensive armament, Cerberus Class Frigates also mount an array of laser turrets for meteor and KEW point defense. Coupled with the ship's radar and battle management computers, Cerberus Frigates can be flown by just one crew member, though normal crew compliment can range between 6 and 14. The first ship was launched in 2123, and are projected upgrades and life extension programs will allow the crew modules to remain in the inventory until at least 2250.
Ships are named for various USAF, USN and USCG Rescue and Pararescue Members, emphasizing their space-rescue capabilities. On December 18, 2130, the USS Rowland Rainey suffered a direct collision when a glitch in the ship's battle management array failed to detect and allowed a 4m ferrous-iron asteroid fired from an unregulated Chinese space mining operation to collide with the ship. The ship suffered little damage and no casualties, a testament to the Frigates' survivability.
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