The Drakonhead was used first for outer-solar, then near-interstellar exploration and commerce. It was the first vessel to employ a bismuth reactor-powered gravity wave drive. The bismuth drive, in effect, increased the vessel’s rate of travel by a factor of 10. Drawbacks were that it was very hot, unstable, and even with dense shielding, was a radiation hazard to cargo and crew. Bismuth drives were blamed for dozens of deaths, some through radiation poisoning, more commonly through sudden, catastrophic detonation.
Nevertheless the Drakonheads were used throughout the late Expansion Period. When they were replaced by the vastly improved Drakonwing craft, the Drakonhead design was licensed to companies that otherwise would have been unable to afford interstellar travel.
When heavy element drives gravity drives became common at the end of the Expansion Period, the ships – still used for cheap, unlicensed transport – were derogatorially called “Dragging-heads”.
The Drakonhead is the archetype for the Expansion Era venture ship. Although used far less frequently than the Drakonwing and other heavy-element reactor vessels, the Drakonhead conjures images of risk and endurance that has come to be associated with the Expansion Era.
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THE CYCLOPEDIA OF WORLDS