A while back, I decided I wanted to get a picture of Swiftwind actually doing hir job, rather than just the scattered pin-ups most of hir image history has amounted to thus far. Now, I could have simply gotten a picture of hir in front of a Star Trek style helm, but shi likes flying things that go way too fast, so it had to be something that shi could fly manually. Which then led to the thought of just what would be a fitting cockpit design for a taur!
My first thought was a simple taur couch, with a backpad that swung into position for upper back support. While it seemed like it could work, I realized it also didn’t solve the problem why we use chairs as bipeds on our fighter craft and zoomy things – the back provides cushioning against the thrust. Supply enough thrust on a craft with a taur in that position, and they’ll quite possibly strain their midjoint, or possibly slide completely out of position.
My next thought was of the Starfury from Babylon 5.Rather than the typical seat, they looked at what would make a good craft for -space- and came up with using a standing cockpit. Thrust form behind would be evenly distributed, and thrust on any other direction would go evenly across the body rather than unevenly like a seat might from certain directions. Only problem is that a taur sitting on their butt to “stand” in this fashion would be rather awkward. It’s not out of the realm of possibility but that led to my next idea, pictured int he image above.
Much like in Zoids Genesis, the cockpit seat works like that of a motorcycle. This keeps the spine fairly level and provides most of the advantages of the Starfury-style cockpit, but in a much less awkward position for a taur to get into and out of easily. The rearward thrust might still be a slight issue in that it will send their blood towards their butt, but taurs have a lot more body for the blood to move through and given we’re dealing with Star Trek level technology, I don’t think that would be enough of a problem to write it off. In this case also the spine would only compress a bit, rather than stress the midjoint with the spine experiencing thrust differently in two different directions.
Of course, I don’t think that position would be super comfortable for long trips, so ideally the couch would slide into the floor to allow the taur pilot to operate the controls sitting or laying normally when in what I termed “cruise” mode. The full couch would only be necessary in “high maneuver” mode, where you might run into instances of inertial overbleed from the dampers. You know, those moments when the bridge crew gets thrown around because people in the future forgot seatbelts!
As a side benefit, since chakats can use their forepaws as hands, you could have extra controls for handpaw use when the couch is deployed, though it’d have to be something that doesn’t require fine control like a throttle, or a few big, important toggles that could still be reached by hand in an emergency.
Ultimately, it depends on the physics in question. In a Star Trek situation, which is what I was using as my design constraints, I feel it would come down to either a basic taurcouch for larger craft like your cruisers, or something like the above for smaller craft more likely to go into extreme maneuvers that could cause overbleed.
Something more like Babylon 5’s setup where they fully play fair with Newton, I don’t think there’d be any real options other than to go completely vertical, despite it being much more awkward and time-consuming to get in place and strap in. The cockpits would probably have to have entryways on the floor rather than the wall, and the taur would have to lower themselves into it and climb out after. Not ideal for larger craft, but those would presumably not be dealing with heavy acceleration in the same fashion.
The other main case that doesn’t completely ignore intertia would be something like the drive systems in the Honor Harrington books. The ships there use a gravity wedge to propel the ships at 600-700Gs, and as the wedges involve gravity control they also act as a sump pump for intertia, so the occupants don’t deal with that level of acceleration. (Of course, if that system breaks, everyone in it shortly becomes pink mist.) Apart from that cheat, they still have to play fair with Newton, so course changes, while sudden, still have to deal with the inertia of the ship itself. In that sort of piloting environment I would imagine the taurs would just strap into something like my initial thought, and the straps would help absorb the shock of any impacts from weapons fire, as the compensators are not designed to catch the momentary burst of energy from that hitting. (Not to mention explosions inside the ship if any laser warheads penetrate the armor and set something off.)
And space fantasy like Star Wars? Well, whatever looks coolest and seems to make sense visually! (aka don’t think too hard about it – MST3K mantra applies here!)