The dimensions of a Heighliner

in design

Spacing Guild Heighliner

(Warning, contains mathematics!)

The Heighliner is Dune is (to me) one of the more iconic starships in science fiction, as as such I want to feature it in my next drawing. A couple of variations exist:

  1. In Dune and its sequels, the Heighliner wasn’t described at all. It was, I think, just a cool-sounding plot device to get Character A onto Planet B.
  2. In David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation, a Heighliner was presented as massive and cylindrical.
  3. The The Dune Encyclopaedia showed us Heighliners that were little more than bubbles of tinfoil demarcating the area of space affected by their space-folding drive.
  4. And then, yeah, SyFy’s 2000 adaptation had what was actually a fairly cool interlocked, revolving network of modules and girder segments that was open to space.

SyFy's Heighliner

I’d consider the cylindrical design more canon: Kevin J. Anderson went and used it in his otherwise-terrible prequel novels. Mr. Anderson also went and did me the good favour of providing the length of a Heighliner: Twenty kilometres.

Spacing Guild Heighliner

With that in hand, I went and screencapped Dune, brought it into Photoshop and took some measurements. The Heighliner was 309.92 pixels long and 86.77 pixels wide. Let us apply…math!

(86.77 / 309.92) * 100 = 27.998

Rounded up, a Heighliner’s width is 28% that of its length. Yeah, I know. My on-screen source isn’t that great. However, it is all that I have available and therefore it suffices.

A further bit of math delivers the Heighliner’s approximate width:

20000 * 0.28 = 5600

For comparison’s sake, you could fit two Babylon 5’s facing each other end-to-end inside of a single Heighliner:

Babylon 5

Fanwankery aside, all I really need is the ratio so I can draw this bloody thing in Photoshop:

20000:5600 = 25:7

in design

Mark Grealish

Dashing brigand, handsome rapscallion, father, crazy cat lady and the world's greatest lover and liar, living in Galway, Ireland.

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