W.A.S.A.S. . The WASAS is a-- "Whasis?" Yeah, WASAS. "No really, whasis it?"
. Such is the running gag among asteroid miners and space mineralogists. However, they can't joke about how useful this odd little ship is. Based upon an older design that was quite successful, this current generation WASAS has already been in service for two decades.
WASAS stands for Wide Angle Spectroscopic Analysis Ship. Their primary purpose is to get up close to asteroids, comets, or any other zero-gravity objects and scan their chemical composition. A few advantages over the old design include substantial structural reinforcement, compartmentalized systems, and no longer being made from spare parts.
Its a short-range ship, usually deployed from a carrier ship or from space stations. Flight time lasts as long as the pilot's air does, or around 12 hours.
Because it's entirely space-based, it has no landing gear but a variety of hardpoints where docking arms can grab hold.
The WASAS has a narrow cross-section to help reduce impacts when it flies into congested space, such as asteroid fields. However as a precaution and for ease of maintenance, its major components are set far apart. For example if a strike were to damage the main engine and cause an explosion, at worst the two ends would be severed and set adrift, rather than ripping through the entire craft and killing the pilot.
Inspiration from certain sci-fi movies aside, the cockpit can rotate a maximum of 90° to give greater visibility in certain maneuvers.
In the vertical orientation, the pilot can look down and monitor the path the scan pod is in, and it's a little more intuitive for pilots to wiggle a narrow vehicle through objects rather than a very wide one.
Of course, being a space-based, asymmetrical vehicle meant I could make it 'fly' any way I wanted. So being able to flip it into either position and have it still be appealing is a nice plus.
The sensor pod houses the Spectroscopic Analyzer itself. The actual sensor 'eye' can rotate up to 120° as it scans, and is easily accessed in zero-G by opening the visor.
Older variants had a much larger, much bulkier unit that was constantly in need of adjustment and repair. This new design allows for easier maintenance, while also having rugged construction made to resist impacts. It has a variety of passive sensors and a direct uplink antennae that sends scan data back to home base. Towards the back you can see an auxiliary thruster pod, which aids in maneuvers.
The engine is very simple and old fashioned; liquid oxygen and compressed hydrogen pellets combine in bursts of combustion, providing a pulsed thrust effect. Without consistent thrust the WASAS has no hope of winning any races, but it'll always get where it needs to go.
The cockpit section is primarily focused on supporting the pilot, with armored oxygen reserves and emergency batteries. A short-range but powerful antennae keeps the pilot in contact with friendly ships.
The cockpit made pilots leery at first; its quite small, and the tall canopy with wrap-around windows seems like an invitation to an unwanted space-walk. However the material is military-grade impact plastic. Over 3 inches thick on all sides with a self-sealing resin layer in the middle makes it extremely effective at resisting damage. As an extra precaution, the cockpit is not pressurized and the pilot wears a full space suit capable of short ventures away from the ship.
While the name is still a joke, WASAS pilots are no longer teased about flying a junk-heap, nor are their lives bet on every time they venture out. Time and again, their efforts have made asteroid mining extremely profitable.
Turns out I had a lot more to say about this little guy than I thought I would. The original idea started out from table scraps, and I've wanted to do a MOC with dark green for awhile, kind of as a test for the future. I also wanted to do something asymmetrical, and WASAS came together very nicely. An interesting note is that there's not really any inner skeleton; it's all held together by SNOT and the dark green wings pieces!
If you made it down here I hope you enjoyed the pictures and that the words added a little more flavor. Thanks for looking, and don't be afraid to check out my other stuff here, or on my Brickshelf gallery.