Darkness Within (13): Structure First

The remass tank is out. With the LOX tank pulled and the rest of the life-support machinery junked, pulling a few bulkhead panels let me into the for’ard maintenance compartment, and thanks to a bit of forethought on the parts of the designers, the fill, drain, and press connectors are all at the ends, so I only had to crawlspace it to unhook the retaining clamps.

Also, Athneél be praised standing, it’s not only holding pressure, but the manual gauges read full-and-high, and still read full-and-high now I’ve kicked and cursed the damn thing out of the cutter, out of the bay, and into free space. Where it’s tethered – it’s the biggest part of the candle, so it might as well be in position.

The first part of the structure is easy enough; there are secondary beams spilling out all over the aft end of this hulk. I can see half-a-dozen from here long enough – well, I’m going to cut four a little longer than the tank, for a start, then weld them onto the sides where the retaining clamps were. That’ll let it stand up to thrust.

If I was building this to last, I’d need to assemble a thrust frame at one end to mount the drives, and another frame opposite it to keep mass off the fuel tank structure when under thrust.  As it is, air’s too short to muck about with that, and I do have a hullcutter.

So I’m going to slice two big chunks of hull plating out of the sides of the landing bay, instead. They’re solid enough to do the job, once the beams are bonded to them at each end, and should also help keep the drive radiation from frying me too badly.

I hope.