Forty lightyears from the world called Earth, there is a small star system with seven small worlds whipping tightly around a small red star. It is known to humans as the TRAPPIST-1 system, but to the dakeos and tomari... it is simply "mando" - home.
The dakeos and tomari (collectively called the Mandoans) are the two native sophont races in the Mando system, hailing from Kotek (T-1e) and Elayen (T-1g) respectively. The worldview of the Mandoans has been expansive from the beginning. Because of the fact that from any one planet, the other six are clearly visible in the sky, the Mandoans' worldview has always been that of bold, open curiosity. Since Kotek and Elayen perpetually hang in full view of each other's inhabitants, the two races' knowledge of each other is deeply rooted in their respective cultural histories. From the discovery of fire to the advent of agriculture to the construction of great cities, the two societies have almost always been aware of each other's existence. In their primitive ages, tribes of each species held that the other worlds in the sky were a sort of afterlife; where souls of the dead went upon their passing. However, when the first great civilizations sprang up, scholars came to the shocking realization that these were real worlds that could be visited one day, and the firelight that shone from their sister planet was a fellow race of sophonts.
Because of their curiosity and blazing desire to meet with each other, the dakeos and tomari both invented unmanned interplanetary rocketry before electromagnetic communication -a rarity in technocultural development. Small chemically-powered vessels bearing messages on scrolls were launched at the points when the orbits brought Kotek and Elayen closest, in hopes that the other world would receive their communications. Almost all of these failed, but thanks to the few that succeeded the dakeos and tomari began to decipher each other's languages.
With the dawn of radio transmission, the two species were finally able to communicate with each other in real-time. Thanks to the work of generations of linguists working from those few successful scroll rockets, translation was only a minor problem in the beginning. From this critical point, technological progress exploded forward -one of the fastest progressions to space travel in any known culture- and the Mandoans spread rapidly through their solar system, establishing an expansive infrastructure of colonies and interplanetary trade. Interplanetary transit in the Mando system is heavily planned but highly efficient given the proximity of the seven worlds, relying on the initial escape velocity burst from high-yield magnetic plasma drives to gain orbital speed and then coasting on the complex and tangled gravitational interactions between the Mandoan planets.At the far edge of the inner Mando system is Pretek-Beraln (T-1h): a small, icy world where the Mandoans have set up a base for deep space exploration. Forays further and further into deep space with powerful radio telescopes continue to increase the Mandoans’ knowledge of the universe, and they may one day soon discover the pale blue dot known as Earth…
My entry for the group challenge! I must say, I think this is the best piece I've made thus far. Heck, if any of you know of a way to get this as a poster I'd love to know, because I want this thing hanging on my wall.
EDIT: Holy quiznak. The file is so large that apparently dA is having trouble showing it as a thumbnail.
I wonder, is there any particular reason you made artificial lights on the planet bluish? Or is it natural bioluminescence?
Also, are you going to draw Mandoans later?
I must say, the existence of TRAPPIST-1 really makes me feel like we've evolved in the wrong system. Just think how much more easy and interesting space exploration would have been if there were two more potentially habitable planets that close to our own...
No particular reason other than that it went well with the color scheme, hehe. It could be bioluminescence...
I don't know whether or not I'll eventually draw the Mandoans. I only have the vaguest notions about their designs, which is why I didn't describe them here.
I agree. If there's any certainty in the speculation of culture in the TRAPPIST-1 system, it's that the inhabitants would have achieved interplanetary transit quite rapidly.
Well, at least we have an excuse for any possible accusations of slow pace of space exploration: it's not us, it's our planetary system to blame!
So we as a sophont species will have to collectively alter our value system and appreciation of time if we are to attempt to extend our reaches into the cosmos.
Three months to visit the Moon? Well, it depends on a spacecraft's propulsion system, but I think for manned missions short-duration travel is preferrable, so it'll take few days, just like Apollo program flights.
Speaking of which, plasma drives as we know them now are highly efficient, but have quite low thrust. They indeed can be very useful in our Solar system, burning for days to reach higher velocities than any chemical rocket. However, for orbital transfers between (relatively) closely spaced Mandoan planets a less efficient, but more powerful propulsion system may be more advantageous, at least in certain situations.
I mostly agree with you on that, although there's one more potential strategy: to make manned space exploration profitable somehow, through space tourism, asteroid mining, materials production in microgravity, etc. I've got an impression that such trend exist, albeit is quite slow to develop.
ACK! This is what I get when I don't check my facts. XP I thought the Apollo trips took much longer than a few days. Whoops.
Yeah, I'm familiar with the fact that our plasma drives accumulate velocity incrementally. In reality, a Hall thruster wouldn't be a very good mechanism for escape velocity. Perhaps my wording was misleading; I was actually thinking the Mandoans might use a magnetically controlled fusion blast to gain initial velocity. That's a very high force yield, and if they used a non-ionizing thermonuclear fusion mechanism and directed the exhaust plasma (and thus the blast force) with magnets it could -from my limited knowledge- be enough to achieve escape velocity (without the damaging radiation left over).
And in any case I was looking for an excuse for the awesome glowing blue contrails.
Another potential add-on to that idea is a magnetic rail assist, like a railgun ramp to the sky. I'd contemplated that idea for a while and it seems like the Mandoans could make good use of it.
I hadn't even considered the commercial value of space. That is something John Ringo explored extensively in his Troy Rising trilogy, actually, and at the moment it's a much more likely path to space than a severe change of our global value system. Well, let's hope for a "best-of-both-worlds" scenario.
Cool real-life spaceplanes with glowing jets, here we come!
The love for blue contrails seems to be common among science fiction artists: I had a conversation with another person here on DA who said engines in his sci-fi setting are based on plasma drives because of the exhaust color (among other reasons)
I think railgun-assisted launch can be of use pretty much to any spacefaring civilization And there are lots of other concepts of non-rocket spacelaunch.
Well, we have good chances to see which scenario will develop throughout our lives