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In my my universe, there is a race of mechanical beings that are powered by magic and who live on the moon. Desiring more living space, resources, and the benefits of a planet with an atmosphere, the mechanical beings have set their sights on the Earth-like planet that they are orbiting and they wish to conquer it.

They know that they can use moon magic to transport some sort of craft to the nearby Earth-like planet, but they have discovered that their moon magic (distinct from the force that keeps them alive) fails at about the halfway point between the planet and the moon, so they can't use magic to assist their landing.

Their tests have shown that although their bodies are tougher than humans (they don't need to breathe, drink, or eat, are physically tougher and much more temperature-resistant), an individual cannot survive a drop to the surface of the planet without suffering at least critical injury if not total deactivation. They have come to the conclusion that they need some sort of landing craft to assist the individual units' survivability and also carry weapons and resources down to the target planet.

The mechanical beings don't have access to wood, silk, or any other products that might be made by plants or animals. This includes petroleum products. They are the only things that live on their moon, which has virtually no atmosphere. They have access to iron and can make steel, though carbon is difficult for them to find, so steel is quite precious. They can use moon magic to create heat and launch things off the surface of their moon, but not much else. They have access to most other metals, which are available with varying degrees of rarity. The mechanical beings have a superior grasp of mechanical engineering compared to the humans down on the planet, who all have medieval-level technology. The moon beings are also innately able to achieve great precision in their work. Their technology is roughly Renaissance-level, if humans in the Renaissance could work with incredible precision. They are unable to harness the power of electricity and have no computers.

Conforming to the restrictions above, how might the mechanical moon beings create a craft that can enable them to survive landing on the Earth-like planet? Good answers will provide a description of a craft and an explanation for how its design will prevent it from slamming into the planet or burning up, rendering the units and equipment that it contains totally useless. The best answers will describe craft that are as cheap and quick to make as possible.

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  • $\begingroup$ If there is Moon magic, is there 'Earth' magic? $\endgroup$ – Imperator Jun 29 '16 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Imperator I used the phrase "moon magic" as a simplification of an idea so that I didn't make my question too long. Basically, the moon contains certain minerals that allow the mechanical beings to amplify their magic and reverse gravity, launching their craft off into space or they can make objects very hot. The "Earth" in this case doesn't have these minerals, so they can't use magic like that. Essentially, at the halfway point, they stay automated but can't affect anything via magic and have to rely on machines. $\endgroup$ – Tophandour Jun 29 '16 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ So... I apologize if I'm going too deep into the material, but can this be mined? $\endgroup$ – Imperator Jun 29 '16 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Imperator it's kind of like little bits of glitter spread all throughout the moon pretty sparsely but uniformly. You could very carefully pick through moon dust and grind up rocks to get these little tiny specks, but even having a handful of them doesn't create much effect. The fact that there's so much of the material spread just right throughout the entire moon creates just enough of an effect for them to launch a craft. Short answer, you could harvest it, but you can't carry the whole effect with you because you'd have to refine the whole moon's worth of material. $\endgroup$ – Tophandour Jun 29 '16 at 17:53
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While side-stepping some concerns ( i.e. origin of mechanicals, history of humanoids, etc) I would suggest that they do it much as we do, with the Columbia series of space shuttles and other glider-based entry vehicles. Use the planets' atmosphere for braking, and gliding for a controlled entry.
I also suggest that the craft be constructed for multi-surface landing, i.e., water, open clearings, sand dunes, and other natural surfaces.

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  • $\begingroup$ The hull of the space shuttle was made of composite materials and took lots of materials science to create - it's really quite amazing. Those technologies and materials would need to be present on their moon (which is fine since it isn't Earth's moon.) $\endgroup$ – Tracy Cramer Jun 29 '16 at 17:31
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Your landing craft simply has to have wings that can create lift. They can be extendable (so they extend only after entering the atmosphere, if you'd like), or permanently fixed to the side.

As the craft enters the atmosphere, you use these wings to start moving horizontally across the surface of the earth, allowing you to make circles around the earth while slowly lowering your altitude until you reach your landing destination. While the circles are being traversed, speed can be lowered by using flaps on the wings (or flaps on the craft itself, even).

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You say there are two kinds of magic, 'moon magic' and 'life magic'. I would suggest they power their craft with the life magic that powers them. If they can create new mechanical beings then presumably they can harness the magic necessary to power the new being. Thus, build a ship that is powered by 'life magic'.

It doesn't matter what the ship is made of since 'magic' can make the ship come down slowly enough that it won't burn up or destroy the beings inside it upon landing.

I'm assuming powering the craft is not a plot point and you simply want to get them to Earth to continue the story. If you need the craft and the journey to be 'eventful' then perhaps such 'magic hand waving' isn't what you are looking for.

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  • $\begingroup$ I hadn't intended for it to work like that (question contains a simplification of what's really going on so that it fits the format here) but now that I think of it, I could conceivably do something like that... Basically making the ships alive in some way. Of course, they have finite resources, so this costs them some resources that they could be using to make more animated mechanical soldiers. It's worth considering. $\endgroup$ – Tophandour Jun 29 '16 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ Theoretically, that wouldn't be a problem because 'Earth' contains large amounts of ore- it would be a priority of their astronomy and tests are extensive. $\endgroup$ – Imperator Jun 30 '16 at 1:13

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