Difference between revisions of "Starship Engine Systems"

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=====Ion Drive=====
 
=====Ion Drive=====
The erroneously-named Ion-Drive is a similar variant to the ion-vacuum engine that essentially works without the "vacuum" part. Instead of a Bussard collector, the ship caries a reservoir of material to "burn" in the engine to produce thrust. The rest of the operating principle is the same.
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The erroneously-named Ion-Drive is a similar variant to the ion-vacuum engine that essentially works without the "vacuum" part. Instead of a [[Bussard Collector]], the ship caries a reservoir of material to "burn" in the engine to produce thrust. The rest of the operating principle is the same.
  
 
Typically, some type of gas is used. Xenon is a popular choice, being gaseous and heavy, though hydrogen and helium are not uncommon due to their plentiful nature. Less "clean" fuel sources are also used, such as waste material from the ship, or essentially "whatever we can find".
 
Typically, some type of gas is used. Xenon is a popular choice, being gaseous and heavy, though hydrogen and helium are not uncommon due to their plentiful nature. Less "clean" fuel sources are also used, such as waste material from the ship, or essentially "whatever we can find".

Latest revision as of 22:11, 20 March 2020

Engine systems fall into one of two categories: Normal Space and Faster than Light

N-Space

N-Space is the colloquialism for "normal" space and refers to any time a ship is traveling at none relativistic speeds.

Drive Systems

  • Ion vacuum drives are the most common for a wide array of vessels, and offer high efficiency, reliability, and longevity.
  • Gravitational Mass Displacement Drives are typically used aboard very large ships and operate by projecting an artificial gravity field in front of the ship, which the vessel then falls towards. Mass drives are reliable but have a low acceleration curve and a short operational lifespan.

Similar Technologies

Several other drive systems exist, most sharing heavy commonality with the Ion-Vacuum technology. The basic principle and operating functions make it one of the most effective N-space designs possible.

Linear Drive

The Linear Ion Vacuum Drive is actually the closest to ion-vacuum technology. It works on identical principles, but with no moving parts. Collection, compression, expulsion, all happen very fluidly. Also unlike a typical ion vacuum drive, there is no spiral, the engine is a straight line.

Linear drives offer some advantages over a typical ion-vacuum, such as much faster start up times and higher delta-v. Actual thrust levels are lower, but it takes a linear drive less time to reach maximum output, giving a basic version of the drive an Acceleration curve matched only by the highest-performance ion-vacuum kits. For their output, the linear drive also requires less power.

However, the drives suffer from numerous drawbacks. They are much more costly to manufacture, requiring more exacting standards, exotic materials, and calling for a number of components that cannot be replaced once failed. This results in a high maintanace cost and lower operational life-span. Compared to ion-vacuum drives, which can sometimes last the lifetime of the ship, linear drives have a total use life measured in thousands of flight hours.

Usage

Due to their drawbacks, the Linear Ion Vacuum Drive sees very little actual usage.

  • They are primarily found on the racing circuit, where their high degree of performance and augment-ability provide a serious edge. Race ships, typically little more than a cockpit with engines, can afford to use a drive system that only lasts the life of the race.
  • The Reliant Robin class of scout ship was the most widely-built user, with millions constructed during the Kamian Succession Wars. Robins used an effectively hot-swap-able version of the engine and typically saw less than a thousand flight-hours per drive. These ships also had a conventional ion-vacuum engine as a backup.
  • The Sahar Jusenkyou-Class Carrier was the first large spacecraft and first capitol-class warship to employ the technology, though in a heavily modified form. Little information was publicly released about the engines, but they have been reffered to on official documentation as "MK IX Linear Ion Vacuum Drives". Since the Foundation would never field an engine with so many problems on a warship, its clear that they overcame any issues.
Ion Drive

The erroneously-named Ion-Drive is a similar variant to the ion-vacuum engine that essentially works without the "vacuum" part. Instead of a Bussard Collector, the ship caries a reservoir of material to "burn" in the engine to produce thrust. The rest of the operating principle is the same.

Typically, some type of gas is used. Xenon is a popular choice, being gaseous and heavy, though hydrogen and helium are not uncommon due to their plentiful nature. Less "clean" fuel sources are also used, such as waste material from the ship, or essentially "whatever we can find".

Ion engines are common in very large-scale operations where precision is important. A engine fueled by a reservoir of a pure substance will have a much more consistent output than one fueled by whatever the collector picks up. Of course, in a pinch, these ships can burn anything. In order to re-fuel en route, they will employ either ram-scoop collectors or bring along an escort of much smaller ships that use standard ion-vacuum drives to gather fuel.

Since the fuel is ultimately being converted to plasma, literally anything works, but when other materials are used it defeats the purpose of the drive.

Deuterium Drive

A further variation used deuterium as the fuel-source. Much like the ion drive: the operating principles are the same, with deuterium being added to dry plasma where it under goes a fusion reaction. The rest of the operation is the same, except that like the ion engine there is no collector. This variant is popular because it requires less power to operate and produces substantially more thrust. Many ion-vacuum drives are even augmented with deuterium fuel injector for increased performance.

Deuterium Drives are popular for small vessels and large high-performance ships. On smaller vessels the increased output and low power requirement make up for the fuel availability and endurance concerns, while the similarity to existing ion-vacuum technology makes them easy to maintain.

Larger applications benefit from higher thrust-to-weight ratios, allowing a smaller fraction of the ship's mass to be made up of "engine". For cargo ships plying a well-established route, this is ideal.

Deuterium Drives are also a favorite engine for torpedoes, as they scale extremely well and retain very high thrust-to-weight ratios.

FTL Drives

Python Reactor

The Python Reactor is the most widely used FTL design, employed by every major power.

Python Inverter

The Python Inverter is an ancestor to the Python Reactor. It was never actually called a python inverter during it's operation, the name has been applied retroactively.

Slipstream Drive

The Slipstream Drive is another type of FTL drive. Its principles are not much different from Python reactor technology, but the implementation is radically different. Slipstream drives are favored by the M'KHaren's.

Shoten Jump

Shoten Jump drive allows for instantaneous transport, but has energy requirements that cannot be met by most ships. Should not be confused with an FTL jump-drive.

Hyper Drive

An unrelated type of FTL technology, the Hyper Drive shares nothing in common with python reactors. Though used by the Foundation at one time, hyper drive technology is not widely employed. It is considered both more complicated and more dangerous than python reactor technology; and while the drive systems themselves are much smaller, Python reactors are considered the more desirable technology. Hyper drives should not be confused with hyperspace or hyperspace window generators.

Hyperspace

The Hyperspace window generator invented by the Satyarans allows access to hyperspace.