Capsule Test

The Capsule Test is a famous rite of passage for those seeking to become a space pilot. Those who successfully complete the Capsule Test receive their aerospace flight certification are thenceforce considered qualified to pilot a spacecraft alone or in concert with a crew. Cobalt Knight squires entering the spacer's service strive to be selected for, and complete, the Capsule Test, as this opens the way to what is widely considered the most exciting occupational specialty in the service.

Execution

The candidate is launched into a roughly circular, stable orbit around a large celestial body - typically Planet Evermorn, though, when traffic is heavy, Mintigel and Scrapyard are also popular choices. The candidate must then successfully pilot the capsule to a designated space station (typically the one aboard which they recieved the most important parts of their training) in an adjacent orbit. The candidate must then successfully dock with the station without damaging the station, the capsule, or any orbital infrastructure along the way.   Should the candidate fail the test, they can choose to undergo additional training and make another attempt in the following year. While there is no limit on the number of times a candidate may attempt the Capsule Challenge, at least a year of instruction must come between attempts to help ensure that the candidate really understands the fundamentals. Candidates with more than three consecutive failures on their record will typically be gently encouraged to consider other specialties. After all, experience with high-level scientific and mathematical concepts is useful in a variety of careers that have less of a risk of causing a lonely, protracted death in the vacuum of space than being a pilot.

Components and tools

GPM Cutaway by BCGR_Wurth
While the Capsule Test would be a trivial affair with the aid of computers, there's one small difficulty: the candidate is supplied with only with the archaic navigation tools affixed to the capsule and has no access to electronic calculation devices. In fact, the capsules used in the test are based off of those used in the early days of Evermornan space flight, using coleostats, gyroscope-based inertial guidance systems, and the like. Others are essentially stripped-down General Purpose Modules with pitiful microwave-electrothermal steam thrusters strapped onto the vertices. In this way, the Capsule Test is also an instrument rating test that requires the candidate to demonstrate an intimate knowledge of the mathematics, physics, and astronomy that are foundational to their chosen trade.

Participants

by Hero Forge
Candidates for the Capsule Test must undergo an extensive training course that covers mathematics, physics, astronomy, instruments, and piloting. Cobalt Knight squires who have undergone training in one of the various spacer-centric academies (i.e. the Frost Mountain Academy) recieve this training alongside their regular studies - often at the expense of social sciences and extracurricular activities. Knight-Airman Enzo Salt is a prime example of such a squire, having completed the Capsule Test at the relatively young age of 18.   Aside from the candidate themselves, the candidate's friends, family, and instructors are often close at hand to watch the proceedings. More experienced spacers watch from rescue craft in adjacent orbits, ready to trigger the capsule's contol override system and rescue the candidate should they prove inadequate for the challenge.   For large classes, many candidates may attempt the challenge simultaneously to save on time and potentially launch vehicles. Candidates may not directly help one another to complete the Capsule Test, as it is considered a test of one's individual skill and trustworthiness at the helm, but those who actively participate in rescue efforts may recieve special commendation and the respect of their peers.

Related Ethnicities


Cover image: by Beat Schuler (edited by BCGR_Wurth)

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
21 Aug, 2022 19:42

If I understand the article correctly, The modern capsules have computer aid for navigation, but this is striped for the pilot test. Is this to honour the tradition of this test or because computational navigation can fail at any time?

21 Aug, 2022 20:03

It's a bit of both.   The Protectorate is an interstellar culture with access to advanced AI, so using the 'mission control' model and letting the hardware do all the work is trivial. However, because they have also been at war for decades and electronic warfare is prevalent, they have to be prepared to operate when automated systems can't always be trusted. Also, for their long-range colony missions, systems failures can force the crew to revert to archaic methods while components are repaired or remanufactured. There aren't many drydocks beyond the heliopause; out in the wild, colony ships have to be nearly 100% self-sufficient.   In terms of tradition, as a culture steeped in the realities of space travel since what we would call ancient times, Evermornans treat multiple redundancy, including when it comes to crew training, with almost religious reverence. The capsule test is as much a right of passage for the aspiring young spacers of the Protectorate as it is a demonstration of technical expertise. The practice is considered blessed by Izetsu, the ancestral spirit of the void.

Come check out The Manifold Sky: Five-Dimensional Dieselpunk Action   My Current challenge articles - Mapvember 2022 and WorldEmber 2022 progress reports - are now live!