The Multiplarity trilogy mentions several different spacecraft. It might be interesting to see the real-world examples that inspired these craft.
The first is, of course, the US Space Shuttle. While there are many good reasons why it never fully achieved its potential, the fundamental shape was the result of more than twenty-five years of airframe development. The Shuttle was such a good basic shape that the USSR copied it with their Buran Shuttle. A great deal has been written on both designs.
Behind the Creation Part 1 can be found here.
When I pause to consider it, Multiplarity not only has multiple plot lines with dozens of characters, but it required the detailed creation of four different fictional worlds. The first third of the book deals with a near future version of our world. The second part follows the founding of a lunar colony called Port Heinlein. The last part involves the reader with a rapidly maturing lunar colony and the colonization of two alien worlds. One is virtual and the other circles another sun.
What the heck am I talking about?
Ray Kurzweil and Vernor Vinge’ have written a great deal about the ‘Singularity’, but few have paid much attention. It has been called “the rapture of the nerds”. While the Singularity makes for interesting reading and conjecture, I don’t see it as totally transforming the entire human species.
At this writing, there are naked humans walking jungle trails and smearing frog snot on arrowheads. Within a few thousand kilometers, there are laptop computers, cellphones, aircraft carriers, and rockets able to lob men into orbit.