Since the contract I’m working at the moment has gone into crunch mode, in the interest of keeping up some content this month, have an extra question answer:
I have a question…
As you say: a Hariven’s hold is sometimes cobbled together from eight standard shipping containers.
Are we talkin’ about eight 4m by 4m by 15m units, or eight 8m by 8m by 3.75m units?
Well, it’s not like they use metric. But while the Imperial “foot”-equivalent unit isn’t quite the same length as an Earthling foot, you can assume it’s not too far off when I tell you that they’re – or at least the most commonly seen 4B08 variant are – 12′ x 12′ x 48′ units.
While I’m at it, here are some more fun facts about the standard Imperial intermodal shipping container:
They’re designed to be light structures (typically made from glassboard, which is a sandwich of foam quartz in aluminum, easy to manufacture from regolith and an excellent insulator) with a thin protective coating of hardened steel, and are hermetically sealed (so they can be shipped without needing a pressurized cargo hold). The corners are slightly rounded to better hold pressure; and as a convenient side-effect, if they’re washed overboard on a wet ship during a storm, they tend to float.
Since this is long past the age of the Internet of Damn Well Everything, each one comes with a built-in microcomputer and WDMRP-compliant transponder, which tracks everything inside the container using their v-tags, controls entry, broadcasts a manifest tag indicating what’s in there, and keeps a write-only audit log of all this information. It also controls digital-ink stripes along the side of the container displaying its current routing code, proper orientation, handling instructions both ordinary and special, hazard markings, and so on and so forth.
And finally, there are some little inspection ports on them (which link together when the containers are stacked) designed to allow microbot swarms to enter and exit the container for performing inspections, for the convenience of customs, transport security, and transshippers routinely checking the contents against records and manifest to look for worrying discrepancies.
Also useful if there’s a fire or some other cargo emergency in the middle of a big stack.