Belter Skiff from the Expanse


this is a work in progress:
Modeling, shading are to improve, some parts are missing like thrusters, cameras. The front is barely designed yet. No texture and a lot of details to had.

For the record, I want to do an Expanse tabletop RPG. The players will start as crew members of this ship.


Hello Blenders,

here is an update on this work with some quick renders. Still need to finish some modelling and adjust details, elements scale that don’t fit.

Belter Skiff: 仕方がない (Shikata ga nai)

Class: Panje
Type: Skiff / mining support vessel
Length: 36 meters
Shipyard: Kelso Black Iron HI (Epstein drive under martian license)
Registred: Tycho station
Owner: Grey Ore Mining Corp
Crew: 3 to 6
Payload: Up to 12 containers

Context & Lore (the reference period is book\season 1)

I made this vessel as an iconic ship for the Expanse tabletop RPG. The players will start as crew members of this ship.

The Shikata ga nai is a typical belter work and supply vessel (also called skiff). The Panje class is called after labor poneys of eastern Europe. It can carry various payloads like mining bots, tools, water and supply containers.
It implements two mechanical arms on the front working platform (missing here).

Design notes

I applied the design set up in the series, and I find it particularly successful and coherent, while being faithful to the books. The worldbuilding in the Expanse is so good and deep, it gets really easy to make functional design for it.

In my eyes, this ship is a very efficient and reliable vessel. In fact, it is not trash at all, It embodies the belter philosophy of life in space: being safe and efficient without waste of resources.
Design reflects this focus on optimization: rather than a specific design it is made of generic parts around an Epstein drive engine/pressurized life cell couple. The devices and sensors are mounted outside on an exoskeleton to optimize the interior space.
This way, spare parts are easily available in the belt, while its ability to evolve and customise with new devices allows a wide range of missions. ( like pirate, explorer, free Navy… )

Being limited to the belt area, it is not intended for atmospheric entry. Thus, unlike the Earth and Martian ships, it does not have a hull reinforced with ceramic heat bricks. However, It has a “hot” side, which is preferably turned towards the sun equipped with old fashioned golden thermal blankets and solar panels for economy and safety.

navigations Instruments in front: telescope, radar, lidar, laser com, radio
4 emergency braking solid powder rockets in front (in order to limit high-G maneuvers for belter crew).
8 cameras on the central beam, maybe more in front and rear
2x4 corners thrusters in both front and rear
mounting for up to 12 containers

to do:
a front working platform with two robotic arms, one for Containers, one for work

In comparison with the Rocinante, the Shikata is about two thirds of the Roci length, and a third of its weight.