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Spacescifi

Reasons For And Against Rescuing Derelict Spacecraft in Scifi

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Posted (edited)

 

It is a well-worn trope in scifi.

Derelict spaceship gives out a distress call.

Passing ship decides to investigate.

Now let's ignore all the physics barring reasons why we would not do this (very limited fuel and thrust) and consider why we probably STILL would not rescue that poor ship even if we had constant 1g acceleration.

Reason 1: Could be a trap. Any time you decide to rendezvous with another vessel you do not know there is this possibility.

Reason 2: Crew may already be dead.

Reason 3: Constant acceleration is fast, but any delays in your travel time you must explain to your superiors. Unless they do not mind you chasing derelict spacecraft.

 

As an aside for this scenario, what are some legitamate reasons for trying to rescue derelict craft that are not even part of your mission?

Reasons that you can actually explain to your employer without him wanting to fire you immediately.

For example, saying "I was curious" is not good enough.

Your employer would reply, "This is not Star Trek and you are NOT Kirk! Ship my cargo on time!"

What do you think?

Edited by Spacescifi

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Posted (edited)

in before 'remember the cant'

from a cosmic looting stant point id want to see what was in there, if you rescue some crew/passengers in the process, then that just allows you to justify your looting later. call it recouping your losses. otherwise legitimate salvage. just hope whoever that ship belonged to comes from a species that understands salvage rights. 

Edited by Nuke

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, Nuke said:

in before 'remember the cant'

from a cosmic looting stant point id want to see what was in there, if you rescue some crew/passengers in the process, then that just allows you to justify your looting later. call it recouping your losses. otherwise legitimate salvage. just hope whoever that ship belonged to comes from a species that understands salvage rights. 

 

Good enough I suppose.

Just dawned on me that if you had 1g constant acceleration parasite craft (shuttles) you would not even need to delay a cargo run.

Just send some robo-shuttles, a few brave redshirts crewmen on other shuttles, telling them you will give them extra hazard pay if they come back with loot.

The funny thing is, even if there was no hazard at all and the derelict ship crew really needed help, I'm betting at least in some cases the 'rescuers' would go rogue. Since they easily could.

Like, the crew is totalky stranded. You have shuttles that can do 1g constantly, they cannot go anywhere.

There is literally nothing stopping a rogue crewman from the shuttle to take whatever, ditch his job, and take the shuttle with him.

Unless.... shiuttle programming stopped him, which is not hard to do actually. So come to think of going rogue would be hard unless you could deactivate programming protocols on your vessel that prevent you from flying away wherever you want.

Edited by Spacescifi

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

 

Good enough I suppose.

Just dawned on me that if you had 1g constant acceleration parasite craft (shuttles) you would not even need to delay a cargo run.

Just send some robo-shuttles, a few brave redshirts crewmen on other shuttles, telling them you will give them extra hazard pay if they come back with loot.

The funny thing is, even if there was no hazard at all and the derelict ship crew really needed help, I'm betting at least in some cases the 'rescuers' would go rogue. Since they easily could.

Like, the crew is totalky stranded. You have shuttles that can do 1g constantly, they cannot go anywhere.

There is literally nothing stopping a rogue crewman from the shuttle to take whatever, ditch his job, and take the shuttle with him.

Unless.... shiuttle programming stopped him, which is not hard to do actually. So come to think of going rogue would be hard unless you could deactivate programming protocols on your vessel that prevent you from flying away wherever you want.

seems you could do a 3g intercept with shuttles (crewed by well trained rescue personnel/pirates that can handle the gs) while mothership continues to destination as planned at 1g. if its a trap then you just have to explain the loss of the shuttle and personnel. but you would likely be operating under some standing orders as to how to deal with such situations, if something goes awry, you can say you were just following standard operating procedure. thats kind of why they exist. they would likely report the situation and buck it up the chain of command, they could accept the loss or send another more well armed ship to recover it if possible. if there was some kind of interstellar maritime law there might be other rules for how to handle the situation, with a lot of "at your discretion" in the regs, and of course what your employer/insurance company thinks is acceptable would likely override that. or it could be something like privateers in the pirates golden age. funded by and operated under a government flag, but could do whatever they wanted so long as they didnt attack their own shipping. your a patriot when its convenient and a pirate otherwise. i think it all depends on who you are working for. 

Edited by Nuke

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Posted (edited)

Any real spaceship would just have an imperative directive: "Exploration of an alien activity overrides any other objective".

On the derelict alien object discovery, the cap would just take from safe the secret envelope #13 with official instructions on the alien contact event and read it.
Then the crew (according to their signed contract) would just automatically become "called to service" with the only objective:
1. Immediately report to the Earth about the alien activity.
2  Keep staying aside, monitoring, and protecting the artifact, until the special boarding team arrival.
3. Do not approach. Avoid contact. In case of violation the crew can be dismissed and utilized as contaminated."

That's all. Ten years later a boarding team arrives, boards, explores, the crew returns to the Earth. And spends the rest of life under observation.

Edited by kerbiloid

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Eh, let's not kid ourselves. Given a chance to explore abandoned alien spaceship all of us would be like "GIMME!!!" :D

Though refreshment course of TVTropes would be a very good idea before opening the airlock.

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Posted (edited)

And following replenishment of the SCP collection.

Edited by kerbiloid

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6 hours ago, Nuke said:

in before 'remember the cant'

from a cosmic looting stant point id want to see what was in there, if you rescue some crew/passengers in the process, then that just allows you to justify your looting later. call it recouping your losses. otherwise legitimate salvage. just hope whoever that ship belonged to comes from a species that understands salvage rights. 

This, when i read the op i was like....uhmmm, i have seen this situation before:D

 

OP, if you haven't, you must watch The Expanse, on amazon prime

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3 hours ago, Flavio hc16 said:

This, when i read the op i was like....uhmmm, i have seen this situation before:D

 

OP, if you haven't, you must watch The Expanse, on amazon prime

 

Don't get that channel, but good points everyone!

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Posted (edited)

Now this is a thread I want to post in.

One thing Elite taught me is that having limpets helps a lot. You could probably grab anything from the ship without ever touching, seeing or getting anywhere close to it. Just send a drone, fill up your cargo, worry about contamination later (you could probably scrap the cargo section or the whole ship if treasures were precious enough).

When it comes to the crew, even on the ISS you could end up with some nasty bacteria, fungi or viruses (especially if the journey is long). Although the smaller the crew the less likely it is to happen. If you ever happen to encounter a ship like that the crew are either all dead or they beat the disease long time ago.

Edited by Wjolcz

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10 hours ago, Scotius said:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_salvage

Don't think there will be no space equivalent. We already have international treaties governing the use of space. In the future there will be more.

This, friend of mine got salvage money as an young teen then he and some friends found an sailboat drifting, he got multiple thousand dollar for securing it. 

Both the crew being dead and its an trap depend a lot of the setting. In most settings this is not much of an issue. You can identify the target by 3rd part if needed and know about time limits. As for an trap, well you stated an war and has done an war crime.
Rules of war is pretty strict here. Asking for rescue equals surrendering in an war. At sea its pretty common to sink the ship if this happens like an submarine is damaged and can not dive, this don't work in space an setting ship to blow up might endanger rescuers again your problem. 
Its also likely that an major warship will stay at range and send over shuttles.

This assume its an Expanse style setting, solar system and humans. In an star trek setting much of the same apply but here rescue can be way more lucrative as in getting access to alien technology. 

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And the first alien artifact from that ship would bring the whole crew and all its known contacts to a quarantine center, with further penalties for unauthorized import of potentially hazardous materials.

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17 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

Reasons that you can actually explain to your employer without him wanting to fire you immediately.

What if search and rescue is your job?

EPE8cuLWAAAp5lX.jpg:large

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7 minutes ago, DDE said:

What if search and rescue is your job?

EPE8cuLWAAAp5lX.jpg:large

Then you're a chipmunk.

Spoiler

 

 

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Or one of these guys:

fa372081-7c43-438e-a0da-e8af526f4553-lar

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, magnemoe said:

This, friend of mine got salvage money as an young teen then he and some friends found an sailboat drifting, he got multiple thousand dollar for securing it. 

Both the crew being dead and its an trap depend a lot of the setting. In most settings this is not much of an issue. You can identify the target by 3rd part if needed and know about time limits. As for an trap, well you stated an war and has done an war crime.
Rules of war is pretty strict here. Asking for rescue equals surrendering in an war. At sea its pretty common to sink the ship if this happens like an submarine is damaged and can not dive, this don't work in space an setting ship to blow up might endanger rescuers again your problem. 
Its also likely that an major warship will stay at range and send over shuttles.

This assume its an Expanse style setting, solar system and humans. In an star trek setting much of the same apply but here rescue can be way more lucrative as in getting access to alien technology. 

 

Technology of the setting really decides this, as it decides what can be done and what cannot.

If I wished, I could make the ring shaped warp drive double as a portal and have two ships carrying it.

Anytime they see something interesting they open the portal and out comes a ship to investigate without a warp/portal ring. So it will rely on rendezvous and constant acceleration to rendezvous with the ring carried by the other ships to get back home.

But I digress. That ia just an example that solves the challenge by technology alone.

52 minutes ago, Scotius said:

Or one of these guys:

fa372081-7c43-438e-a0da-e8af526f4553-lar

 

1 hour ago, DDE said:

What if search and rescue is your job?

EPE8cuLWAAAp5lX.jpg:large

 

Good enough. Just do not expect to be hauling off a lot of loot I suppose.

 

The irony is that I suppose the classic media portrayal of starship captains is that they all act like age of the sail privateers.

Doing whatever they like whenever they like.

I guess being a pirate gives you that freedom. But otherwise you're really assigned for one job only.

Passenger carrier. Search and rescue patrol. Cargo hauler.  Space science researcher. Pick one. Unless you own the vessel, then you can do any of them you wish so long you're not under contract.

Granted no one can find you to make you pay up if you break a contract, but they surely won't let you visit that planet or station again without being penalized.

Edited by Spacescifi

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An officially assigned pirate is "privateer", "corsaire", or "Kaper".

Also pirates take goods from alive ships, unless they are living near a false lighthouse next to the reefs.

***

Back to the topic. It's easier to bring a radioactive skunk to New Zealand than an alien artifact to the Earth without special permission given after studies.
And obviously no such artifact can be owned by a private person or organization.

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1 hour ago, kerbiloid said:

An officially assigned pirate is "privateer", "corsaire", or "Kaper".

Also pirates take goods from alive ships, unless they are living near a false lighthouse next to the reefs.

***

Back to the topic. It's easier to bring a radioactive skunk to New Zealand than an alien artifact to the Earth without special permission given after studies.
And obviously no such artifact can be owned by a private person or organization.

In more modern term as in WW 1 commerce raiding is used, take typically an cruiser and use it to hunt enemy cargo ships. 
You want something as large as an cruiser as you need range and destroyers are common as escorts. 
Downside is that this is not very profitable, yes you can actually steal entire ships this way but operating an capital ship is expensive and its pretty dangerous as you will run into enemy warships. 

Don't think its any rules against alien artifacts, however they would be an extremely hot item and you could easy see some of the area 51 conspiracies come true. 
Now in an space opera setting I think this would be more common and pretty lucrative kind of getting your hand on Soviet systems during the cold war

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1 hour ago, magnemoe said:

You want something as large as an cruiser as you need range and destroyers are common as escorts. 
Downside is that this is not very profitable, yes you can actually steal entire ships this way but operating an capital ship is expensive and its pretty dangerous as you will run into enemy warships. 

The bigger problem is the lack of a Tortuga during the mid-century: no real way to fence the goods. This has changed dramatically and there are now several largely lawless areas that still have the logistical and economic base to launder the booty. Take for example the thefts of tanker cargo in the Strait of Malacca in the early 2010s.

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46 minutes ago, DDE said:

The bigger problem is the lack of a Tortuga during the mid-century: no real way to fence the goods. This has changed dramatically and there are now several largely lawless areas that still have the logistical and economic base to launder the booty. Take for example the thefts of tanker cargo in the Strait of Malacca in the early 2010s.

True, but the real reasons you got modern pirates was because modern cargo ships are unarmed. Add some M2 machine guns to the ship and you have a problem trying to board it. 
You now need to threaten the ship to surrender so you need real weapons. Much the same is true for any spaceship how can you board an hostile spaceship, the engine is an nice close in weapon. 

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4 hours ago, magnemoe said:

Don't think its any rules against alien artifacts

Any sanitation rules.

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15 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

An officially assigned pirate is "privateer", "corsaire", or "Kaper".

Also pirates take goods from alive ships, unless they are living near a false lighthouse next to the reefs.

***

Back to the topic. It's easier to bring a radioactive skunk to New Zealand than an alien artifact to the Earth without special permission given after studies.
And obviously no such artifact can be owned by a private person or organization.

you might get a reward for turning it over to a military or other government authority, especially if the technology is more advanced. advancing your own technology would be a top priority, especially if the aliens in question are hostile. they might even have bounties in these kinds of situations to encourage salvage crews to recover this tech. obviously these would come with the essential precautions as conditions to the bounty, like taking the salvage to a secure station or facility, and probably quarantine of the crew. spending a month in quarantine would be worth it for a years salary for example.

Edited by Nuke

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8 hours ago, Nuke said:

you might get a reward for turning it over to a military or other government authority, especially if the technology is more advanced. advancing your own technology would be a top priority, especially if the aliens in question are hostile. they might even have bounties in these kinds of situations to encourage salvage crews to recover this tech. obviously these would come with the essential precautions as conditions to the bounty, like taking the salvage to a secure station or facility, and probably quarantine of the crew. spending a month in quarantine would be worth it for a years salary for example.

Yes, and it's a good chance to get a tattoo "Government Property" on the forehead and be rewarded with food, bed, and clean clothes for free.

(Epilepsy warning)

Spoiler

 

 

Edited by kerbiloid

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