A Treatise on Interstellar Travel

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  1. PrivateNomad

    PrivateNomad There goes my hero, watch him as he goes Staff Member Technician Gold Donator Event Builder

    Jun 25, 2017
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    A Treatise on Interstellar Travel
    (Above: Dr. Victor Marcovici, "Dr. Marco”)

    By Dr. Victor Marcovici

    [[ The following is a document explaining the ins and outs of space travel, written by the famed "Dr. Marco” of Haven's Gaia University, an augmented engineer that spearheaded Haven's technological prowess when it first formed. Now, he is one of the leading minds behind the EBS program, advising the Senate on matters of technology. The text written here is but a summary of the short book. Text in bold is important information for OOC use.]]

    Ever since the birth of civilization, the sapience species of this galaxy each gazed up to the stars in infinite curiosity. What they saw once as gods and mystery is now illuminated as an entire galaxy, ripe with exploration, commerce, and unfortunately battle. Throughout time, those we call ‘Spacers' honed the guidebook of interstellar travel, new technologies bringing to light new forms of travel. Where man once rode the fields of Earth with horses and chariots, now he rides the stars in marvels of engineering. With this, I summarize for you generations of Spacer and scientific knowledge.

    Chapter 1: Erchius Fuel and FTL Travel
    How to Break Physics with the Miracle Fuel

    (Above: A sample of crystalline erchius.)

    Erchius fuel is the key to faster-than-light travel without the usage of antimatter. It can be found in a crystalline or liquid form in airless moons or asteroids, common around many stars. It is known as the "miracle fuel” because of its sheer utility, leading it to become a very important resource. When supercharged and ionized, erchius fuel plasma can be directed by superconductive toroids to warp space, condensing it in front of the user's ship to cause them to travel faster than light. This type of FTL drive is known as the Warp Field Drive. Most ships possess auxiliary warp field drives to travel to places out of reach of any Hyperlanes, which are streams of normality webbing through the dimension of Hyperspace that greatly increase the speed of space travel. Most early ships utilized solely warp field drives before the discovery of Hyperspace. Auxiliary warp drives are also used for sublight travel, when standard thrusters are too slow.

    The most common form of FTL drive is the Hyperdrive. The hyperdrive supercharges erchius fuel into a large toroid to accelerate the ship to almost .90c before discharging it into a large burst of negative energy that creates a very brief "tunnel” or portal at the nose of the ship into a stable hyperlane. The ship flies into the tunnel and it closes, allowing the ship to travel through the hyperlane via their auxiliary warp field drive. Hyperdrives are programmed to only jump into hyperspace while on a stable hyperlane, and typically only have enough energy to enter just that. While a ship could hold enough energy to tunnel into outside hyperspace, it would certainly cause the demise of the entire crew. A disadvantage to this is that it takes time to "charge” your jump, at a rate of usually 5 seconds per ship category. While a subcorvette will only take 5 seconds to charge its drive, a destroyer would take around 20 seconds to charge. If a ship does not use a hyperdrive, the charge time is reduced by half usually. Hyperlanes are also preset paths, with some star systems being inaccessible hyperlane. Most major star systems can have at most 2 or 3 hyperlanes connecting them, a phenomenon that seems to be related to their gravitational well, as higher mass stars tend to attract more hyperlanes. While this trend seems to prove true, it does not explain how systems with habitable planets seem to, on average, connect more hyperlanes.

    Fuel is a very valuable resource. As a traveller of the galaxy, it is very likely that you will have to purchase your own erchius fuel from various fuelling stations near the most populated star systems of the Fringe. The average price of refined erchius per gallon is 5 pixels, though this price can shift depending on certain factors. A gallon, for most corvettes, will allow a non-auxiliary warp field drive to travel for 100 Ly (20 Ly per pixel). This will allow one to travel from Haven to the capital of the Caliphate, Maladh (44,000 Ly apart), for 440 gallons of erchius fuel, or around 2200 Px in costs. Use hyperlanes, and you lower this cost by 10x, or to 220 Px in cost. Hyperlanes are fairly economic, though have their own disadvantages of being less safe and usually not going to your destination in a straight path. The larger a ship is, the more fuel it requires, by a factor increasing by 0.2x every size category up in gallons of erchius. So while a corvette would travel from Haven to Maladh with 440 gallons of fuel, a frigate would use around 528 gallons. A destroyer, 616 gallons. Naturally, a sub-corvette would use a fifth less, at 352 gallons. In addition, breaches in and out of hyperlanes usually cost around 10 gallons of erchius per ship size up.

    Chapter 2: Travel Time and Commerce
    How Long Does it Take?

    (Above: An example of a Havenite cargo ship.)

    The galaxy is a very large place. In diameter, it spans over 100,000 ly (lightyears), for a human seeming to be an impossible distance - because it is. But you own a marvel of engineering called a space ship, that can break the limit of light itself. The speed at which you can travel, which Spacers usually measure at ly/d (lightyears per day), determines how quickly you can get to one place from another. Ships that are frigates and larger tend to travel at a rate of around 1000 ly/d, allowing them to cross the entire fringe in around just 15 weeks. Hyperlanes, however, reduce that distance by a factor of 10. Divide 15 weeks by 10, and that trip is reduced to just 10 days. Ships smaller than frigates usually travel at 1400 ly/d, reducing the travel time to around 10 weeks, or around a week if using just hyperlanes. There are numerous disadvantages to using hyperlanes, however. In a hyperlane, you are more exposed to attack due to the decrease in space, and you also suffer from an inability to communicate with anything in realspace. Hyperlanes are also a popular form of travel, making them susceptible to blockades by various empires that wish to control it.

    As such, time is a very valuable resource when travelling in space. Because it is very cost inefficient to teleport bulky materials over for commerce, they must be transported by ship, akin to how goods were transported across seas in the olden days. As a trade ship's destination rises in distance, so does the cost to transport its goods.

    Chapter 3: FTL Detection and Radar
    He Who Wishes to Fight Must First Count the Cost

    (Above: A ground-based lunar tachyonic radar.)

    Whenever erchius fuel is discharged as a plasma into negative energy, a burst of tachyon particles can be observed. This tachyonic burst, or "wake”, can be detected by a radar to sense any ship entering or leaving via FTL. Most ship radars have a short range, not able to cover an entire system, while many small ships do not have radars at all. Many colonies have larger tachyonic stations in orbit that can detect jumps from anywhere in the entire star system to even dozens of lightyears beyond. These tachyonic bursts can also be parsed with mathematics to even determine where a leaving ship's warp destination is, making it possible to chase ships beyond star systems. While larger vessels have much stronger tachyonic bursts due to their larger warp drives that make them easier to detect and trace, smaller ships are much harder to notice and tend to be difficult to trace. Many smaller ships, if stealth is a priority, will jump into a system out of a colony's radar range, and then enter via their sublight drive. Range of tachyonic radars is usually used to determine the "territory” of any interstellar empire, as they will be able to detect any incoming ships inside that range.

    Closer to a colony, a tachyonic radar can detect ships beyond their jump trails, by simply bouncing tachyon particles off of ships and back as a radio radar would work. The range on this is much lower than FTL detection, only being able to detect ships within the sphere of influence of a planet - this makes it advantageous to place multiple radars across one's system. Some certain ships however, are able to avoid radar detection by either using a stealth aegisalt coating in their hull at the cost of armor, or using a powerful cloaking device at the cost of their energy. Such ships can usually be detected once they enter a planet's orbit, however.

    For much shorter ranged applications such as in combat or within a planet's own sphere of influence, heat-based radar systems can be cheap and effective. These work by detecting a ship's outputted infrared radiation, usually from their sublight drive or thruster. Heat radars are usually used to obtain quick visuals on targets during battles, but are not able to tell the shape or size of a ship, rather its engine output. In addition, it is ineffective against ships designed for stealth, which usually use anti-gravity methods of propulsion. The range on most ship-based radars is around 1,000,000 kilometers, or 5 lightseconds (Ls). The accuracy of the radar decreases over this range, weaker engines not being able to be detected at the higher ranges. Another fault of this system is its vulnerability to being prone to have false positives due to decoys deployed by any enemy that send out heat signatures similar to ships.

    Chapter 4: FTL Relativity and Interdiction
    How Do You Race in a Warp Field?
    To begin to understand the physics of motion in a warp field, you must understand the concept of warp in the first place. To begin, faster than light speeds as you know it is not actually faster than light. Rather, by contracting space, instead of actually moving physically faster than light, you simple arrive to your destination in a shorter time span. The warp field that your warp field drive creates is what allows this phenomenon to happen, using the anomalous properties of supercharged erchius fuel to warp space itself to your bidding. Taking this into consideration, that would mean that it is also physically possible to move at the same speed as a ship in warp.

    A smaller ship could certainly warp onto the same path as a larger ship and match speeds with it by fine tuning its velocity. This leads to a whole window of opportunity, particularly for those with more malicious intent that dwell among the stars.

    (Above: A basic Warp Field Disruptor, also known as an Interdiction Drive.)

    As piracy soon became commonplace, especially among the Fringe, the eager criminals of the galaxy began looking into the best ways of intercepting and boarding vessels. The sheer speed of Warp Field Drives proved to be a big obstacle in this endeavor, as it made any ship-to-ship interaction almost impossible. Unfortunately, it took only a few decades of reverse-engineering by tinkerers after the creation of Warp Field Drives to bring up the Warp Field Disruptor, also known as Interdiction Drive. By using the same technology as a Warp Field Drive, it creates an Erchius plasma torus within itself which emits a powerful, directional counter-field that can destabilize and even disrupt a warp field. With the use of this crafty device, pirates have been able to chase down their victims even at sublight or FTL speeds and essentially knock them out of it, turning them into an easy target. And although it is a powerful tool, it requires just as much skill to be effectively deployed. The counter-field is directional and short-ranged, which means that the pilot will have to close in on their target, position their ship correctly and match their target's speed and maneuvers for a decent amount of time for it to disrupt their warp field. Should their target manage to stay out of the counter-field, it will end catastrophically for the user as the accumulated warp energy is released from the Warp Field Disruptor uncontrollably in a burst, causing a disturbance in their own warp field. Overall, Warp Field Disruptors are viewed as black market technology because of their frequent use by pirates and legally unattainable in Civspace. Even in many Fringe territories, Interdiction Drives are illegal. Their use in the Haven Federation are outlawed.

    (Above: Havenite ships stationed in orbit of Haven.)
    (Above: A standard particle thruster for atmospheric flight.)
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