TTA: Civil: PC1 191 Gourmet

Though certainly not one of the most beautiful objects to be seen in space, the Gourmet is a product of Proxima's post-war industrial development programme, and as its name suggests, is an extremely efficient and discriminating piece of ore processing equipment. As an independent and selftransporting device it is usually classified as a spacecraft, but it functions primarily as a mining tool operating on fixed sites.
The war had left Proxima's industry in a shambles and the widespread use of ground effect nuclear weapons by both sides had rendered many of her own planetary mines unusable.

Alpha Centauri had for many decades depended on off-planet sources for her supply of minerals as her own were relatively poor, and Proxima was forced to follow her example until the means could be found by which her existing mines could be reopened. The Gourmet was one of the first examples of the equipment evolved to exploit the enormous amount of mineral rich materials to be found in free space.

It was revolutionary in concept add incorporated a number of innovations demonstrating a high degree of technological sophistication. The machine was constructed to carry out two separate tasks at once so that mining and processing became a single integrated function.

The ship operated by identifying and locking onto a suitable 'target' which could be of any size from a small asteroid to an area of planetary surface. The forward section, which was a high output directional furnace, would then begin to reduce all the matter beneath the main body of the machine to a liquid state. Within the hull itself was a mass simulator developed from an Alpha gravity resistor. The fields were reversed and the small gravitational forces would draw the liquids into analyzer filters which separated the various elements. These could then be synthesized immediately into a variety of alloys, shaped and deposited for collection by conventional freighters.

The crew's quarters were situated in two modules above the stem of the ship which also served as the control centres, and although there was room for up to thirty personnel, most of these vessels operated with crews of seven or eight.

The early models were not regarded favourably by the Alpha and Terran Trade Authorities as their method of working resulted in a considerable amount of highly radioactive waste being scattered through their area of operations. This problem was eventually overcome and all models currently working are 'clean'.

The TTA has purchased a large number of Gourmets since their introduction. Most of these are working in our own asteroid belt, either in the Nationalized fields or under private lease.