Earthforce Explorer class Research Ship (Babylon Five):

The Explorer class ships that are operated by the Earth Alliance are the largest ships currently in operation by any of the younger races. Their job is to explore and chart as yet unknown star systems and if the system is worth it, to build a jumpgate in the new system. These huge ships carry enough material with them to construct several jumpgates from internal cargo. These ships are also big enough to have a direct tachyonic link with Earth. Not a luxury if one considers the enormous amount of time and money these ships represent. Since they are only lightly armed it is a good thing they can call for military help on a moments notice. It should also be noted that although these ships fall under Earthforce and that Earthforce has the final say on mission planning and so on, they are almost all operated by a couple of industrial consortia. The ships have been leased to the consortia, and they pay for most of the operating costs. On the other hand they do not have to pay the huge expenses of having to build the ships, and they have first access to new star systems and mining rights.

Earthforce gets its strategic information and info on quantium deposits, and does not have to pay the operating cost and do a job it was not meant to.

Standard for these huge ships is a extensive array of sensors of various kinds. These sensors include, but are not limited to, things as diverse as neutrino detectors, to a extensive (huge) phased array radar system to a 40 meter optical telescope. It should be noted that these systems are not meant for combat. The telescope for example is very frail and consists mostly of thin (not Tin) foil mirrors and a lot of empty space. When the ship is accelerating it is folded up and stored inside. Most of the ships other sensors also fold up when the ship is accelerating.

The ships crew section rotates to provide artificial gravity for the crew and control rooms and the ships berthing areas are located in the rotation crew section. This means that the ships crew can serve on the Explorer class longer than the crews could for the previous Earth Force ship classes, including the Omegas. The ship also has more spacious berthing areas than previous ship classes and have more recreation facilities too. Because these ships are more comfortable than previous ships, they are popular with ships crews. These luxuries are well needed though: the average mission can last up to two years. Quite a haul, especially since most of it will be away from Earth Alliance territory. In order to compensate somewhat for this the ship also has a very large hydroponics sector, making it one of the few ship classes where a crew member has access to fresh fruit and vegetables the entire mission. This is a comfort most military ships lack, and it is the source of much complaints among military personnel. For these reasons those stationed aboard a combat vessel sometimes refer to Explorers as Luxury Liners or Titanic

The Explorers are reasonably well armored and are, despite their apparent frail appearance, quite sturdy ships. their armor is actually about as heavy as that of a cruiser. Combined with a military grade interceptor grid this means that the ship can actually withstand pirate attacks and such quite well. The interceptor grid fires low powered energy beams to intercept incoming fire and uses electromagnetic fields to disperse energy that is fired at the ships. The interceptor grid also employs a system designed to decoy incoming missiles. The systems is more effective against plasma cannons and pulse cannons (Actually another style of plasma cannon - does not work as efficiently on weapon systems that simply fire in pulses) than the system is on other energy weapons. The system quickly get overloaded though and cannot operate continuously and is not as effective as the shields on Minbari and Centauri ships.

The weapons of the explorers consists mainly of twelve Particle cannons for anti starfighter defense. The only other offensive weapons carried aboard are two squadrons of starfuries.

The ships propulsion consists of eight ion engines. These provide reasonable thrust, although not as high as those on the EA warships. The plus of these engines is that they are highly reliable and very efficient, resulting in a better reaction mass use / thrust ratio than military engines, which sacrifice efficiency for a high thrust ratio.

The FTL drive of the Explorer consists of a jumpgate generator, wich allows the Explorer to form its own gate into hyperspace.

Of special note should be the huge cargo capacity of these ships, although this is very specialized cargo; each Explorer can carry prefabricated building blocks for up to 4 complete jumpgates. At about 9 million tons per generator that amounts to nearly 150 million tons of cargo. They are carried mostly between the rotating section and the hangar bay and between the rotating section and the ion engines. And that is excluding the other cargo and supplies it has to haul around for a two year mission.

Listed is the formula to allow player and game masters to calculate the Battle Cruisers velocity and distance traveled:

Model: Earth Alliance Explorer class Research Ship
Crew: The normal crew of a explorer consists of 400 (20 officers, 380 enlisted Military.). In addition it carries some 300 mission specialists (Civilians)
Troops: Normally, none. Can carry about 7000 for short periods (3 weeks)


24SA-23E Aurora Star Fury Star Fighters
10Crew Shuttles
12Atmospheric shuttles

M.D.C. by Location:

Particle Guns (12):300 each
[1] Main Body:35,000
[2] Engineering section8,000
[3] Rotating Crew Section:12,000
[4] Reactor Cooling Radiators:3,500
[5] Ion Fusion Engines (8):1,500 each
[6] Cargo/Hangar space and sensor platform (front):10,000
[7] Interceptor grids (6):3,000 per side

[1] Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will put the Explorer out of commission. All internal systems will shut down, including life support. Rotational crew section will stop rotating. The ship itself will be an unsalvageable floating wreck.
[2] Destroying the engineering section means that ship FTL propulsion systems are destroyed and maximum sublight acceleration is reduced to ten percent of normal (using navigational thrusters).
[3] If the M.D.C. of the Rotating Crew Section is reduce to less than half, the crew section will loose power to the rotational system. The rotating crew section will slow down at the rate of 10% of its speed for every twenty minutes that the power is out for rotating the Rotational Crew System. In about three hours, the rotation will completely stop. Main control is in the rotating crew section so destroying the section will eliminate the bridge. If the control center is destroyed, the ship can still be piloted from engineering but ship is -3 to dodge and all weapon systems will be at local control. Weapon hits in the crew section that do not destroy the ship can injure crew members on or near the bridge.
[4] The destruction of the radiators means that the ships reactor has a 1% chance(cumulative) of overloading per turn. An overload results in a explosion which breaks the Explorer in half (main body destroyed) and does 4D6x1000 MD in a 2,000 feet (600 meters) radius. In order to avoid overload, all ships systems must be operated at half power, including engines, defense grid and weapons. This reduces their stats to half.
[5] The Destruction of one engine reduces the ships acceleration by one eighth. The destruction of two Ion Engines reduces the ships acceleration by one quarter. Each additional destroyed engines reduces the ships acceleration by on eighth. Destroying all eight Ion Engines means that the maximum sublight acceleration is reduced to ten percent of normal (using navigational thrusters).
[6] Destroying the combined hangar/cargo space will mean that the important components for the jumpgates are also destroyed. Gone is the Quantium-40. Also the most of the special detectors are located in this section. When 50 % of the hangar has taken damage the sensors are destroyed imposing a -2 on all sensor rolls and the telescope is completely destroyed.
[7] The Interceptor Grid gives only partial defense against energy weapons and as the system absorbs more damage this percentage of damage will be reduced. The system will absorb up to 3,000 M.D.C. per side. Initially, the system will absorb 80% of damage from plasma weapons and pulse cannons (Actually another style of plasma cannon - does not work at this higher efficiency on other weapon systems that fire in pulses). This is because is it much easier to disperse plasma than an actually energy beam. The system does not absorb damage from rail guns, other projectile weapons, and from missiles. Initially, the ships will also absorb 40% of other styles of energy weapons as well (This includes non plasma style pulse weapons as well). For every 200 M.D.C. that the system absorbs, the system will be reduced in effectiveness by 10% for subsequent strikes (Example: If an Interceptor Grid absorbs 400 M.D.C., the Interceptor Grid will only absorb 60% of plasma damage and 20% of the damage for any other energy weapon when struck next.) The defense grid recovers at the rate of 100 M.D.C. per minute. The missile decoy portion of the system is described separately below.

Driving on the Ground: Not Possible.
Sublight: The starship does not have an effective top speed but is limited by acceleration. The Explorer can reach a top acceleration of 2 G but due to high fuel consumption and extra strain on the engines, the ship will normally travel at 0.25 G for any extended trips. Top acceleration is only meant for emergencies. Because the Explorer is mostly unshielded from the effects of radiation and hypervelocity atomic particles (It is not completely unshielded), the explorer is not operated at speeds exceeding 20% of the speed of light; However, No captain has ever brought up to that speed.
Atmospheric Propulsion: Not possible, if the Explorer enters atmosphere it will crash.
Stardrive: Uses a hyperdrive system that allows the ship to reach a maximum of 9 light-years per hour. This means that the Explorer can cover the Galaxy in about 15 months . The ship enters hyperspace by means of a jumpgate. This ship can use an already made jumpgate or can form its own jumpgate.
The Explorer has enough power to open a jumpgate every fifteen minutes (60 rounds). The gate then takes one round to open, two rounds to traverse, and another to close.
Maximum Range: Conditionally unlimited, while the fusion reactor gives power for a decade of service, the ships propulsion is limited by the ships reaction mass. The ship can be refueled at ground based facilities, space stations, and other star ships as long as they have the special facilities. The ship can also be refueled by fuel shuttles.
The Explorer carries twenty four months of reaction mass for travel at 0.25 G of acceleration. Double the consumption of fuel for 0.5 G of acceleration and double the consumption again for every 0.25 G of acceleration beyond 0.5 G. This means the ship will burn the fuel 128 times faster at maximum speed than at 0.25 G. The ship will often accelerate for a period of time and then shut down the engine and travel using the ships velocity. If the ships uses more than half of its reaction mass when accelerating, the ship will be unable to decelerate fully and the ship will normally only use a third or less of its fuel on accelerating so it does not run into a problem.. If the ship runs out of fuel then it must be refueled by another vehicle traveling faster or be lost.
If the ship has a large amount of flight operations, the ship is limited to about eighteen months endurance at cruising speed from the fighters and shuttles using the ships reaction mass.

Statistical Data:
Height: 4,543 feet (1,363 meters)
Length: 3.8 miles (6,100 meters)
Width: 2,513 feet (754 meters)
Weight: 33 million tons (30 million metric tons)
Power System: 8 Tokamak 600 Fusion Reactors (10 year duration). However, it was recommended that the drive and power system have routine maintenance every 5 years. Also, the ship carries about a two and a half year supply of reaction mass.
Cargo: 160 million tons (145.2 million metric tons) (material for 4 complete jumpgates) plus two years of supplies
Cost: 70 billion credits to construct. Each additional jumpgate it carries represents another 160!! billion credits.

Weapon Systems:

  1. Particle Guns (12): These guns fire bursts of atomic particles at close to the speed of light. They are very effective against fighters but are not as effective against larger ships. All particle guns are located in weapon pods along the ships hull. Each mount has a 360 degree rotation and 180 degree arc of fire.
    Mega Damage: 3D6x10 per cannon.
    Maximum Effective Range: 12.4 miles (20 km) in an atmosphere and 1,244 miles (2,000 km) in space.
    Rate of Fire: Equal to gunners hand to hand (Usually 4 or 5).
    Payload: Effectively Unlimited.
  2. Missile Decoy System: These systems launches clouds of chaff and electromagnetic decoys around the ship. This system is the final part of the interceptor grid. The decoy cloud will remain around the ship for a period of time unless the ship accelerates, decelerates, or changes course which will take ship out of the chaff cloud within one melee. The system is a series of decoy launchers that are placed around the ship. Even if the main interceptor system is not functional, this system will still operate.
    Mega-Damage: any vehicle flying through take 2D6 M.D.C.
    1. Has a 40% chance of confusing or deflecting missiles from most younger races. This system does not work on missiles from Centauri, Minbari, or other Race with similar or more advance missile systems.
    2. Disguises ships radar signature. This gives a -2 penalty to strike. (Does not work on Centauri, Minbari, and races that are as advanced or more advanced than the Centauri and Minbari)
    As long as the ship does not accelerates, decelerates, or changes course the chaff will take five melees to disburse. If the ship accelerates, decelerates, or changes course, the ship will leave the chaff cloud in one melee.
    Maximum Effective Range: Ship and 1,000 feet (305 m) radius around ship.
    Rate of Fire: Once (1) Per Melee.
    Payload: 50.

Special equipment:

Combat penalties:

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Technical information sourced partially from Babylon 5 Technical Manual!

Writeup by Mischa (E-Mail Mischa).

Formatting and minor revisions by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Rifts Conversion Copyright © 1998, Mischa. All rights reserved.