Transportation Methods

Before the advent of the AI wars the most common forms of transportation relied either on internal combustion or entirely electrically-powered vehicles with limited range. For space travel there was only the option of solid or liquid-fueled rockets with limited use of ion engines as well and the technology used in them was mostly archaic at best. Post-AI War technology had advanced to the point that long range, fully electric vehicles became the norm on the ground and advancing engine technology in space travel such as the ion engine and the invention of the plasma burst drive were gaining increasing use throughout the Federation. While some of these methods can still be found today they have mostly fallen by the wayside due to the creation of the Rammed-Plasma Fusion Drive, though the current research that is underway could serve to replace this long standing technology in the very near future.

Conventional Drive

Missiles and small drones still tend to rely on the conventional rocket drive that was created before the AI Wars. Essentially a controlled explosion within a tube, they are fueled by combustible materials in either a solid form or sometimes a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen format. The burn time for these is extremely short, sometimes mere seconds but in the middle of a dogfight that is typically all one needs for a missile to track its target and make a successful impact. Another key advantage of the liquid fueled drive is the extreme abundance of hydrogen and oxygen in all reaches of space.

Ion Drive

Another ancient form of propulsion that was created pre-AI War but unlike the conventional drives it saw an increase in use for at least a few hundred years after as their advancement led to them becoming a mainstay of space travel for quite some time. In effect, the ion engine is a very slow firing energy weapon that is used to push a spacecraft forward. Typically fueled by Xenon gas, a set of electrically charged plates are used to accelerate atoms of the gas to near light speed, the result being a gradual nudge that serves to build up speed in the ship. The level of efficiency in the ion drive is unsurpassed even to this day but its major weakness is the fact that building up speed takes a matter of hours or even days to peak. This is a far cry from the first generations as they took upwards of months to reach their maximum velocity and just as long to slow down from it when needed. The ion drive is still commonly found on large stations as the high level of efficiency is the only practical option for moving them any great distance. Smaller ships such as fighters and corvettes always require the use of a fueling station onboard of a capital ship to supply their needs, however capital ships themselves are typically capable of producing their own fuel plasma as a result of their reactor's operation.

Plasma Burst Drive

Invented in the year 763 TSC the plasma burst drive revolutionized space combat by allowing the use of fighter craft for the very first time. Before this, any conflict in space was limited to large capital ships with limited armament plinking at each other as they passed by. Maneuvering was improved a thousand-fold and reason for increasing the armor and shielding on ships became a sudden priority for every major faction at the time. The concept of the plasma burst drive is simple in theory but quite difficult to perfect in practice which is the reason it took so long to develop. At the heart of the system is a contained core of superheated plasma that is pumped into tiny chambers. A piston in each chamber then compresses the plasma until it reaches sub-criticality (partial fusion) and proceeds to expand rapidly. A valve at the back of the chamber opens to let this gas quickly rush out while some of the energy goes into pushing the piston back into place. The level of power is quite substantial though lacks in the sense that controlling acceleration involves turning on and off the entire assembly at different rates. A ship at full stop suddenly turning the engine to maximum could be torn to shreds from the sudden jolt the engine gives, though more harm would be done to the pilot inside who would experience G-forces in excess of 20 times Earth gravity. The plasma burst drive fell out of fashion as a primary mode of transportation some time ago, however, they are still used to a great extent as the maneuvering engines on fighters, corvettes and frigate class vessels which allows for quick and responsive movements in any direction.

Rammed Plasma Fusion Drive

Similar in concept to the plasma burst drive, the rammed plasma fusion drive is what some might call the next logical step in drive technology. It was first theorized only some 50 years after the creation of the plasma burst drive, however it took technology over 800 years to catch up to what the design called for. In 1622 TSC with the advancements in several areas of metallurgy and computing there was finally the possibility of putting a continuous fusion powered drive into use. The principle of the design was to feed sub-fusion plasma from a chamber into a narrowing tunnel at a controlled rate. The magnetic bottle of the tunnel closed in and compressed the plasma until a limited amount of it was able to reach the point of fusion. A tremendous amount of power was generated from this and the resulting hot trail of gases provided powerful but very smooth thrust forward. Computers were needed to monitor the point at which the plasma was actually reaching its critcal state as straying the point too far inward could cause a sudden backfeed that would very quickly destroy the drive and most of, if not all of the ship attached to it.

Eisener Drive

A byproduct of particle weapons research was the invention of the Collapsing Eisener Field Drive, or Eisener Drive for short. Simply put, the drive is a massive array of modified type 1 particle weapons that have been arrayed so that their outputs all interact into a forming a single, massive engine. The fact that a type 1 particle beam generates zero recoil is the main principle behind the drive. The array of beams essentially are fired at the ship itself and knockback effect plus a sudden expansion of gasses creates a sudden and tremendous burst of speed. Special care must be taken into the location the beams fire which is always an ultra-hard fullerine/tungsten carbide matrix designed specifically to deflect the particle beams. The matrix is extremely difficult to produce and should weapons fire ever hit the plate or the area around it, then the drives automatically go offline until it can be confirmed the plate was not damage or misaligned from the strike. Capital ship are the only vessels capable of supporting the drive system as they are currently the only platform that can power an inertial dampening system. Otherwise, the use of the drive would completely shred the entire structure of the vehicle and crew would be tossed about like ragdolls. Eisener Drives are in no way designed for maneuvering but rather for quickly moving from one planet to the next as the system is capable of pushing a ship to 20% of the speed of light. In other words, a trip from Earth to Uranus would take only 10 hours to complete whereas before it was at least a two day drip under fusion drives.

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