The Solar Ferry would be the earliest and simplest of vessels developed for fledgling marine settlements by the interests of TMP, serving the simple function of sheltered water ferry service while making a positive environmental statement. Analogies already exist off-the-shelf for this class of vehicle today (one prime example being those developed by the German company Kopf Solarschiff GmBH http://www.kopf-solarschiff.de/cms/index.php) and some could be appropriated for Seed settlement use, though in general the majority of current designs along these lines are over-specialized and, as will tend to be the case with most vehicles employed for Aquarius, the Solar Ferry needs to support multi-use through modularity.
The Solar Ferry would consist simply of a pontoon boat with a completely flat aluminum deck covered in a glass-enclosed canopy with integrated photovoltaic panels providing power for a simple electric drive system using small azimuth thrusters in the ‘corners’ of the vessel’s form. A compact gas turbogenerator or fuel cell would provide backup power. Designed for simple Roll-On/Roll-Off access, the deck would feature short adjustable ramps at one or two ends and possibly small redundant pilot houses in two corners. All surface features of the vessel would be modularly attached to the deck using integral mounting grooves and could be reconfigured or removed to accommodate different uses or seasonal conditions. Though used primarily as a passenger and light cargo ferry with a partially or fully enclosed deck, in some instances, the entire deck could be stripped bare so the vessel could accommodate large equipment, serving in the role of a construction platform that runs primarily on generator power. Other roles would include floating restaurant, party vessel, floating band-stand, stage, or bleachers, platform for marine display floats, and perhaps even a support vessel for small rocket launches. Though possibly being built in several forms and sizes, the basic form would be a 30-50’ square or rectangular two or three pontoon vessel that can accommodate several shipping containers or a few vehicles, though in general it would never need to routinely carry cars as the settlement itself would have no use of surface vehicles beyond the scale of golf carts.
In the early stages of a settlement located in sheltered bays, the Solar Ferry is likely to be supplemented by the use of a number of private marine craft, ideally based on electric or solar-electric propulsion. A number of small boats of the type are already available off-the-shelf, varying in design from the high-tech to the very traditional. (electric boats and launches have existed since the turn of the 19th century, even if we tend to think of this this as a ‘new’ technology)
- Solar Wingsail Cruiser
- Relay Archipelago
- Aquarian Airship
- Aquarian Personal Rapid Transit System
- Aquarian Personal Packet Transit and SuperStore
- Aquarian SE Downstation
- Circum-Equatorial Transit Network