For a science fiction setting I'm working on, I'm trying to make a clear division between ships made exclusively for space flight, atmospheric flight and dual-purpose ships that can fly in both. The most common example I would imagine for these dual-purpose ships are freighters that travel between planets and the fighters that escort them so they don't have to recall their fighters for entry and then deploy another set once in atmosphere.
Unfortunately, I'm no expert in aerodynamics or 3D modeling, so my ship designs are kind of boxy and often a joke in aerodynamic design despite my best efforts. The linked image is probably what I would consider one of my more aerodynamic designs that I've published a render of, though it has an atmospheric variant I'm working on that would have more aerodynamic wings and engine pods.
It got me thinking, though, maybe I could find a way to make this work within the confines of this setting. Could a combination of cheap energy and powerful thrusters allow a ship to overpower poor aerodynamics to the point where starship manufacturers can get away with cutting corners on aerodynamics to cut design and manufacturing costs?
The thought is that making fighters capable of surviving re-entry would be expensive, so they might want to cut costs elsewhere or it might become cheaper for freighters to carry two sets of fighters and go through the hassle of switching fighters as part of re-entry procedures.
I still intend for dedicated atmospheric craft to have an advantage over these dual-purpose ships, but I want them to be good enough that a skilled pilot could believably overcome that disadvantage.
These ships would likely be traveling at speeds comparable to modern jet fighters, maybe a little faster. The limitation is still going to be the forces exerted on the pilot as I don't have any kind of "inertial dampener" style tech in this setting.
- This question is more focused on fighters and smaller craft. The freighters themselves will likely need to be more aerodynamic or have to flow at much lower speeds. I'm mostly focused on the smaller ships because they would need to intercept any oncoming attackers.
- I'm not looking for suggestions for alternate designs. I'm simply trying to find out if my existing designs aerodynamic shortcomings due to my own lack of expertise in the field can be justified in-universe.
- The speeds in question would be more in the combat speed range than cruising speeds.
- The dual purpose atmospheric+space use fighters will still have an attempt at aerodynamics. They won't be flying bricks. The idea is that the manufacturers might not put anywhere near as much time and effort into aerodynamics as we do any modern aircraft to cut costs.