Thor Heyerdahl

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Spacecraft Registry
Thor Heyerdahl (prototype)
Spacecraft Characteristics
Base HullPrototype of ESA Interplanetary Space Vehicle
Length25 meters
Width8 meters
(16 with radiators extended)
Height8 meters
(16 with radiators extended)
Mass300 metric tons
Drive Type7 ESA improved ion drives (hardtech)
Drive Rating1g acceleration on full burn,
0.1 g in economy mode
Primary ManufacturerEuropean Space Agency
OwnerEuropean Space Agency
Registry NumberESA-ISV-001
LaunchedMarch 23th, 2015
PurposeExploration, transportation
Operational StatusActive
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The Thor Heyerdahl has left Earth orbit a few hours ago with its crew of seven astronauts and is on its way to Mars. It will dock with Starbase 1 within the next seven days.

—ESA press conference on March 23th, 2015


The Thor Heyerdahl is a joint ESA/JAXA development, built in the orbital shipyards of ESA on Rockhounds asteroid SR-06 in 2014. On March 23th, 2015 the Thor Heyerdahl began her maiden flight to Starbase 1 in Mars orbit. 6 days later, she reached her destination The flight of the Thor Heyerdahl sent some shockwaves through both Earth and Fenspace, because noone had expected the first hardtech expedition to Mars would reach its target inside a week. Most reactions from Fenspace were enthusiastic, praising the crew for taking the 'hard way', however the reactions back on Earth from other spacefaring states were mixed.

After returning to her home base roughly one month later, the ESA began a series of checks the Thor Heyerdahl for any kind of damage or problems. When nothing serious was found, preparation began for her next mission.

Technical Specifications

The Thor Heyerdahl is a pure hardtech spacecraft, built around the new ESA ion drive and a JAXA developed Helium-3 Fusion reactor.

It is cylindrical, eight meters diameter and 25 meters long, with a number of extendable radiators to cool the fusion reactor. The total mass of the Thor Heyerdahl is 300 tons, including approximately 120 tons of reaction mass and 80 tons of payload (crew and equipment).

The seven ion drives of the ship allow it to continuously accelerate for more than a month, until reaction mass finally runs out. This allows the Thor Heyerdahl to do make a round trip to Jupiter within approximately 36 days. With refueling, the ship can reach any planet in the solar system within a few months.


  • The first flight of the Thor Heyerdahl to Mars was extended from three to four weeks to allow the crew to answer several invitations from major Fen factions on Mars
  • The TSAB tried to prevent the building of more ISVs with the argument that the system was a disguised ion cannon. ESA and JAXA have been ignoring this.
  • With a full thrust of 1g the reaction mass of the ship will run out within a few days
  • Helium-3 for the reactor was from acquired by some Fen contractors on Saturn.
  • The ion drive of the ISVs is based on the “Ultra-low reaction mass thrusters” designs from the Whole Fenspace Catalog.
  • The ESA has announced that they will start building at least three other ISVs in the next years.


The Thor Heyerdahl is featured in the following stories: