Superluminal Travel

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Magister Militum
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Superluminal Travel

Post by Magister Militum » Mon May 26, 2008 2:02 am

Superluminal Travel

The universe is truly a vast place. Empires and nation-states, ranging in size from the tens of millions of star systems that a Great Power can control to the hundred systems that belong to a small, young interstellar power, have spread themselves all across the width and breadth of the Milky Way, and they continue to expand. The satellite galaxies, once unconnected with the events of their dominant cousin, have now become the next frontier, as the civilization, culture, and politics that dominated the Home Galaxy have spread themselves into several nearby galaxies. Needless to say, the sheer scope of the civilizations that inhabit the Southern Cluster, let alone the Local Group, means that faster-than-light travel is crucial for society; from the great engines of commerce to the terrible instruments of warfare, all elements of intergalactic society rely on superluminal travel. The following technologies represent some of the most common forms of superluminal travel, but are by no means the only methods available.


Gravitic Warp Drive

An ancient staple of interstellar transit, the Gravitic Warp Drive essentially warps the space around and in front of a Warp Drive-equipped starship (hence its name), creating bubble of subspace. Once the drive has been activated, the starship is capable of traversing large distances of space at an instant within its bubble without the negative effects of time dilation and other hazards. Because of this, a starship in warp is capable of interacting with anything in realspace , although the opposite holds true as well. The system, however, is not perfect. Although one can enter warp from any point in space, one can only exitwarp from a sufficient distance from a gravity well (a phenomena identical to hyperspace that is known as the Hyper Limit). The use of the Warp Drive in tactical FTL is also limited to the fact the gravitational anomaly that the Warp Drive creates would light up on every nearby sensor. Regardless, Gravitic Warp Drives are still extensively used as a back-up form of superluminal travel due to their small, compact nature and minimal energy expenditure. In addition, many planetary defense forces, which have no need for long-range warships, often will mount Warp Drive’s on their first-response warships, as will many civilians who aren’t in a hurry.

Mole Drive

Another concept that became highly prolific since its first use, the Mole Drive is the natural evolution of the Wormhole Gate concept that was common throughout the galaxy. Rather than using a system of fixed gates, however, the Mole Drive allows for the starship in question to create its own wormhole that allows for a fast and straightforward method of travel from one point to another. Although initially restricted to only the largest ships (the rest were restricted to the use of wormhole gates) due to the massive amounts of energy needed to operate, the Mole Drive have since been improved to the point of being able to be installed on any type of ship; indeed, even people can make use of their own personal Mole Drives for short-range travel, as can objects such as missiles or naval rifle shells. Mole Drives are currently being used by certain polities as their primary from of FTL, such as the Greater Empire of Japan and the 6th Imperium. The Japanese, in particular, have devoted intense research into improving the Mole Drive, which has yielded the most advanced, and fastest, Mole Drive in the Southern Cluster, which they jealously guard.

Galactic Gate Network

The ubiquitous form of superluminal travel for the average citizen, the Galactic Gate Network (GGN) is a galaxy-spanning (although the conquest of the satellite galaxies is beginning to change that) network of gates that provides for near instantaneous travel from one gate to the other. The Galactic Gates makes use of the realm that this Slipspace (or alternatively, the Slipstream), whose very nature allows for the reaching of incredible velocities. The only problem, though, is that slipspace is incredibly difficult to navigate; indeed, there exist stories of ships who have attempted to navigate slipspace only to have strayed off course and disappear. To provide a safe and reliable method to access slipspace, the Galactic Gate Network was created, which allows for transit between two fixed points via slipspace without the inherent risks of flying off course. Galactic gates can vary in size and nature depending on who are their primary users. Less crowded/important paths often have only one gate, while routes to major systems or other galaxies have massive Galactic Gate Hubs, which group a multitude of gates varying sizes together. And then there are the military-grade Galactic Gates, which are some of the largest and most fortified around, and have, on occasion, played host to one of the most brutal and intricate forms of warfare: the Gate Assault.

Hyperspatial Travel

The most popular form of superluminal travel, hyperspace is a vast, complex dimension where distances between spatial bodies are significantly shorter when compared to their actual, normal space distances. As such, it is possible to cross one end of the galaxy to another in as little as a few days, or make intergalactic-scale journeys more easily when traveling by gates is out of the question. Modern hyperspace drives work by opening a window into the realm of hyperspace for a brief moment, allowing the starship in question to pass through the window and travel through the multiple levels of hyperspace in order to reach its destination in a rapid fashion. However, there are two problems with hyperspatial travel. One is that hyperspace is filled with extremely dangerous hyperspatial anomalies and ‘mass shadows’ (the impression of a gravitational mass in hyperspace), which can be lethal for those who do not take the right path. Luckily, eons of travel via hyperspace have led to the establishment of safe hyperspace routes that take advantage of its topography to minimize travel time. The other problem is that ships cannot enter hyperspace when near or in a significant gravitational mass, which has led to a whole school of tactics involving the denial of hyperspace use to others (see: hyperspace inhibitor fields).

Space-Fold Jump Drive

Born out of the research conducted by the Union of Scandinavian States, the Jump Drive is a relatively straightforward method of travel. By folding the space around the starship in question, the starship is capable of making instantaneous jumps over vast distances of space. While undeniably fast, Jump Drives (which can go by many names, such as the French Pelletier Drive) are unable to make jumps of unlimited duration and thus must make a series of multiple jumps in order to reach their intended destination. This itself is further confounded by the complex calculations and demanding start up procedures (known as ‘spooling’) needed in order to prepare for a series of jumps, as well as the energy requirements needed (Jump Drives are the most power intensive forms of FTL around). Unlike other forms of superluminal travel, though, Jump Drives are incredibly precise in plotting their jumps and are not affected by their environment; indeed, a starship is very well capable of jumping into the atmosphere of a planet, something that Warp or Hyperdrive’s cannot manage. It’s unsurprising, then, that several nations and organizations, such as the Third French Empire and the Federation of Prosperous Indian Republics, would make use of the Jump Drive and the technologies that have inevitably evolved from the system.

WIP?
Last edited by Magister Militum on Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:01 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Superluminal Travel

Post by Ford Prefect » Mon May 26, 2008 7:41 am

Ah, the return of Slipstream travel. :D

What I like most is that this is a work in progress, meaning we may see you inventing some new and fun ideas in future.
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Magister Militum
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Re: Superluminal Travel

Post by Magister Militum » Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:10 am

UPDATE: This article was an ancient holdover from the original incarnation of TEG, so I've decided to start from scratch and rework the article.
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Re: Superluminal Travel

Post by Heretic » Sat May 29, 2010 11:54 pm

Gravitic Warp Drive
Man, why haven't I thought (heard) of that? It sounds so simple and saves time fretting over how FTL could possibly work.
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Re: Superluminal Travel

Post by Siege » Tue Jun 01, 2010 6:30 pm

Apart from the mechanism, are there any functional differences between Mole and Jump drives?
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Re: Superluminal Travel

Post by Magister Militum » Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:16 pm

The Jump Drive's can make its jumps a lot faster than the mole drive, but can only make relatively small jumps. The mole drive, on the other hand, takes longer to spool up and such but can cross much greater distances. If you were to imagine the jump drive as a tactical drive and the mole drive as a strategic drive, then you would be on the right track, though, obviously, that isn't written in stone.

Actually, now that I look at the article, there are a few tidbits here and there that need updating. I'll get to work on that.
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