- This article is about the spaceship class. For other uses, see Altair (disambiguation).
The Altair class of interplanetary transports was a product of the Alliance Space Command, the organization founded by the Western Alliance in 2016 to develop the first permanent lunar station and then a number of technological development programmes relating to spacecraft and stellar exploration. The first Altair-class ships were constructed to perform the first manned missions to Mars.
The first two vessels, the AS Altair and the AS Procyon were launched in July and August 2017 respectively, having been constructed at Crippen Station in orbit above Terra. The Altairs were designed to use small nuclear fission power plants to generate electrical power and used conventional chemical propulsion systems. Each was designed to support a crew of six people for the journey to Mars and back, which was planned to be a year-long round trip; in an echo of the grav decks of the future, each Altair incorporated a spinning grav section to generate artificial gravity.
The fourth ship of the Altair class, the AS Columbia, was launched in 2018, and between April 2026 and October 2027 was extensively modified to incorporate the first fusion drive designed to be used in space. The various changes incorporated into the refit of the Columbia included moving the crew module to the front of the ship and mounting a new and enlarged drive section at the rear of the ship, separated from the crew module by a large shield designed to block radioactive emissions from the drive. The drive incorporated a new cooling system that consumed large quantities of coolant but which effectively cooled the drive while the drive pumped out large quantities of super-hot plasma to propel the Columbia. The crew compartment was expanded to accomodate twelve crew.
- DropShips and JumpShips, p. 6, "Rise of the Western Alliance"
- DropShips and JumpShips, p. 7, "Rise of the Western Alliance"
- BattleSpace (sourcebook), p. 7, "A New World Order"
- DropShips and JumpShips, p. 6, "The Fusion-Powered Marvel"