In my sci-fi serial, the Girl in the Tank, the crew of the USS Cambridge find themselves rescued from a nuclear blast by an alien vessel, The Corelean (pronounced core-lee-ahn).
The Corelean is a medical evacuation ship. The Consortium is a space faring race. Simians, races that evolved from the same genetic line as humans, predominate in the Consortium and the Corelean is primarily designed with them in mind, though it can accommodate other races at need.
The Consortium has had the science of space travel down for a long time and most of their ships, stations and outposts have a high safety rating. However, life is never completely safe. Accidents can happen on space stations and natural disasters can befall planetside outposts, particularly in newer colonies. Medical evac ships are designed to provide valuable medical care, supplies and evacuation capabilities in times of emergency. They run with a crew of just over three hundred, a full third of which are trained and certified healers. In a short evacuation they can take on several hundred civilians, and they have facilities to house up to three hundred and some, which the Corelean will need with the Cambridge, which has a crew of just over three hundred.
A medical evac ship looks a bit like an oversized airbus or the US space shuttles, nearly six hundred feet long with stubby wings to navigate atmospheric landings. As part of my research process I’ve used vector art programs like Inkscape to do some floor plans and I might try to do some model mock ups in the future.
The Corelean technically has four levels. Three are accessible to crew, the lower level is engines and equipment, accessible only by technicians and rarely used. A rough floor plan of the two main levels is shown below.
The front forward bay has a wide open hatch leading out of the ship and is the primary way on and off the ship when it’s landed. It’s where most of the action occurs in an evacuation situation, civilians can be brought on board, severe injuries treated in special open treatment bays to the right. A low command deck allows the captain and master healer to direct the action and triage newcomers.
Immediately behind the forward bay are rooms designated as medi-bays. They contain medical tanks for the housing of those needing acute treatment for serious injuries. Only a handful of the American crew requires such intensive care and of them, Cheyenne Walker will be in these halls the longest.
Radiation is a fairly constant threat to any space-faring race. Space abounds with radiation. Terraforming planets requires setting up outposts in places not protected by the kind of atmosphere and magnetic belts that shield earth from solar radiation. As a result radiation burns and accidents are one of the more common injuries for spacefarers. The Corelean is equipped with a sizable decontamination room and a number of blue light machines which help to harmlessly absorb radiation from bodies at an accelerated rate.
Crew quarters are on the sides of the ship, midway back. Two long halls on either side of the two main decks house the majority of the crew. The crew quarters are small, just over six feet wide and twenty four feet long from door to window (if you are lucky enough to be on the window side). There are two bunks on either side of the room as you go back. At four crew members to a room, it gets a little crowded at times. The long hall contains twenty rooms to a side, with two lounges forward and aft. The rounded open alcoves at towards the end of the hall is a zero G lift. Climb in and propel yourself up or down. The zero G lifts are more than a fun way to go up or down, in a power emergency they allow technicians to climb between levels. The ship has more conventional elevator-like lifts and in a few places, stairs.
The upper third level is the flight deck, airlocks and other critical services. Access to the third level is restrict to those with at least Level One space certification and not even all of the Corelean crew can go there.
What is to come for the American crew of the USS Cambridge? If you did the math, the crew quarters can hold about 160 crew on each level or 320 on each side. Their Consortium hosts have all bunked up one side and the Americans are housed on the other side. It’s a tight fit, and they have six weeks of quarantine before their radiation levels will allow them to leave. How will they deal with the stress of radiation sickness, cramped living and a culture vastly different from their own? I guess you will just have to read the serial to find out.