The Interstellar Vehicle Venture Star (also known as ISV Venture Star) transports supplies, equipment, personnel, refined ore, and data between Earth and Pandora; however, it never lands on Pandora's surface. Instead, it sends smaller vessels, called Valkyries, to rendevous upon the moon's surface. The Venture Star arrives at Pandora after more than five Earth years in transit: the hundred-plus humans onboard -- apart from the four man flight crew -- are in cryosleep for the entirety of the trip.
Its hybrid fusion/antimatter engines hurl out incandescent plasma over one million times brighter than a welding arc, with an exhaust plume twenty miles long. At the rear of the ship is a mirror shield, which protects the ship from the intense light of the beamed-power laser from Earth that the very same mirror uses as a man-made solar wind; used much like a solar sail for long term acceleration, and deceleration of the vessel without using on-board reactor mass. The mirror shield also acts as multi-layer interstellar debris shield during periods of flight in which the engines are not being used.
The engines are at the front, with the rest of the ship dragged behind; this reduces the structural mass penalty. The arrangement is based on the Valkyrie starship design.
The ISV Venture Star is just one of ten starships which the RDA operates utilizes for interstellar trade between Earth and Pandora. Interstellar starships such as the ISV Venture Star require unobtanium in their manufacture, due to unobtanium's role in providing containment for antimatter-matter reactions.
The ISV Venture Star is capable of carrying 350 tons of cargo. The cargo consisting of triple containers are filled with blueprints for the Stereolighography plant, micro-miniaturized components like micro- and nanoprocessors and other circuitry elements that cannot be manufactured in the plant. The ship also carries two Valkyrie landing crafts, 200 passengers in cryosleep, drugs and other medications that cannot be produced on site, avatars and their amino tanks.
On the return to Earth the ISV Venture Star carries mainly refined unobtanium but also Small Na’vi artifacts to be sold as collectables to wealthy individuals for extremely high prices. Sometimes data with molecular structure of Pandoran organic compounds that may have medical or other applications on Earth is also transferred. The data will be used to synthesize them for testing and eventual sale back on Earth.
Given the transit time of five years from Earth to Alpha Centauri A (a distance of 4.37 light years), ISV Venture Star's average velocity is approximately 0.874 the speed of light. Allowing for acceleration and deceleration time at five gravities (approximately 49 meters per second squared), its maximum velocity must be somewhat higher.
Also note that due to time dilation effects experienced at velocities higher than 0.1 times the speed of light, an Earth-time voyage of 5 years only seems like 2.43 years, or approximately 2 years, 5 months, and 5 days for the ship itself at a velocity of 0.874 c.