- 1 Talk
- 2 Vehicle propulsion tech
- Is SPEC a form of Alcubierre drive? -- 2005-06-07 19:34 GMT CoJL
Vehicle propulsion tech
Taken from the Return of the Grab Bag: July 18th thread (2004)
FIXME Should be embedded into the database somewhere anyway;)
Someone (the existing sophonts are all fairly convinced it was The Ancients, although there's no evidence that it wasn't the TWHON - if said group believes in the TWHON) incredibly weakened a number of points in space by unknown means, allowing for low cost wormholes to be punched between specified pairs of points in a large network of interstellar jumps. The key to cheap and rapid FTL is the inelegantly named jump drive which, using grav technology not intrinsically different to that found in shields, cloaks, and the SPEC and Sofono drives, creates said wormhole.
SPEC (Spatial Partitioned Expansion Contraction) drive
The other FTL technology, the SPEC drive (and its alien equivalents) warps space around the vessel such that the vessel may move at normal speeds though compressed space, generating an effective movement rate much higher than otherwise possible. However, the top speed attainable from this method is limited, and the energy costs much higher than jumping, so SPEC is used for interstellar travel only when exploring outside the jump network or when launching a military expedition (as going through the "front door", so to speak, is a good way to get butchered) However, for insystem travel, the development of the SPEC drive (which, excepting the Aera, actually greatly post-dates the development of the jump drive in the known species) is a great boon.
Sofono drive: (as it is known to humans)
One of the most important breakthroughs ever in gravitics, this drive allows for a vessel to obtain low accelerations based purely on the generation of shaped, non-uniform gravitational fields. While initially very difficult to merge with SPEC drive use, advances in understanding have allowed even ships using only grav drives to accelerate during SPEC use. The Sofono drive is paradoxical in many regards, but none so amusing as its relagation to use in the near vacuum of space - the higher the density of the surrounding material, the more acceleration the Sofono drive can pull - but the higher the density of the material, the higher the likelihood that a fluxuation will cause particles of said material to bombard the vessel at excessively high energies - thus, while the theoritical bounds on atmospheric flight accels with Sofono drives are much higher than that in vacuum, ships must automatically throttle down lest they destroy themselves, rendering performance (at least for so long as control of gravitic fields and their interactions with the vagueries of fluid dynamics remains in something similar to the current VS state of affairs) equal in such media as the ship may pass through in the first place. The Rlaan are the only extant group known to use only Sofono drives for normal space flight, being capable of producing higher acceleration yield devices than any of the other sapients. All other groups use auxilliary drive technologies for vessels that need to operate at more than a few Gs of acceleration.
Auxilliary drive tech: (or, kick the tires and light the fires )
You've got deuterium on board to fuel your deut-deut reactor - it's not a quantum leap to use it as part of your propulsion system too. Goodbye hydrogen, hello helium, goodbye helium, thank you very much momentum!
Inertital compensators: (or, how to live through acceleration)
The inertial compensators in VS, with the exception of very high end rigs for very small craft, are not craft oriented, but crew oriented, always putting the most advanced gravitic technology to use in keeping any crew in their designated areas from doing the raspberry jam.
Neither fusion exhaust drives nor high powered shaped gravitic drives are considered particularly friendly to one's neighbors. While the spaceport and skyways may tolerate both (to some extent), personal and public ground based transportation cannot use them in the same way as spacegoing craft.
With modest temperature superconductors, cheap energy, and inertial compensation, there has been a revival of train travel, of the subsonic maglev variety. These, and other public transportation systems, have greatly gained in favor relative to the present day on all but the most individualistic planets, as most cities have been designed from the ground up for "public" transportation (strictly speaking, many of the systems employed by certian meme-groups are not public in that they are local monopolies, but, cost of fare aside, it looks much the same to the user and the city planner). Advances in automation and control systems have rendered the personal vehicle an eccentricity on many developed worlds, with ubiquitous on-demand hover-sedans (simple, almost anachronistic, but highly reliable craft with small fusion plants driving numerous turbines). The more stylish, frontiersman-like, or hurried may opt for a personal VTOL craft utilizing intake ionizing solid-state electro-magnetic fluid acclerators for thrust in atmosphere or oceanic environs for longer trips point-to-point on planet, there's always the sub-orbital puddle jumper.
While there are heavy lift craft that can ferry massive loads by air, the decision as to whether to use good old fashioned fusion generator powered electric motors driving treads or to use an upward bound drop shuttle is a per situation decision based on cost, area, and the relative need for speed. Big trucks are still a lot cheaper than big shuttles.