Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

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Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

Postby ConnorY71 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:34 pm

Anything to do with FTL engines should probably go in this post. This thread is concerned with sublight engines, both for travelling large distances, but not large enough to need FTL, and for maneuvering.

Let's see what we have, or at this early stage of development, what we can have:

Rockets:Work both in-atmosphere and in space (better in space, but aerospikes could be a cool feature to increase performance in air. Think N-1 starfighters from The Phantom Menace). Fuel efficiency isn't a rocket's strong point, but high speeds (compared to airplanes) can be reached fairly quickly. I was thinking a cheap way to produce solid hydrogen would allow for inexpensive and compact fuel. Plus, H2 is the best rocket fuel. The problem with rockets is that they also need an oxidiser, so rocket-fueled ships would need a large space for engine related stuff.
A similar device to the chemical rocket is the nuclear thermal rocket, not the same as the nuclear rocket listed below, which is a nuclear pulse rocket. (more info:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_rocket#Terminology)

Ion Drive: Like rockets is a reaction drive, so when building you ship this needs to go at the back. Properties include very good fuel efficiency but horrible thrust. To get somewhere in space at a reasonable time it is recommended to keep your ion drives on for the whole trip, or until you need to start slowing down. I wouldn't advise using this on your own ship as it is very slow, but certain niche uses definitely exist. Ion drives are too weak to work in-atmosphere, so don't put them on landing craft either. (more info:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_drive)

Diametric Drive:Covered in the thread linked above, as it involves negative mass, reactionless drives do not require fuel. They do, however, require energy. To balance out having no need for fuel, I'm going to say a lot of energy. Since they are purely fiction, we're going to have to make up the performance of the diametric drive. Like I said, check out the above link.

Nuclear Rocket:Involves blowing up a nuke behind your spaceship, to put it simply. Both fission and fusion devices exist and both are very powerful. In the game fuel would probably be expensive, though. (more info:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_pulse_propulsion)

A ship needs to be able to both rotate and move in 3 dimensions, not just go forward. Moving and rotating can be done by well positioned rockets. Rotating can also be done by a control moment gyroscope, which is a device that can be housed inside the hull of a spacecraft. As far as I know the spacecraft would rotate around the center of this machine during operation, something that would be of importance to the developers. Note that a ship rotates around its center of mass when rotated by rockets.

Please comment with your own ideas and improvements. Thanks for reading.
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Re: Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

Postby Zardoz » Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:56 am

My thinking about no FTL engines :

- Chemical (aka Rockets) : High trust, high fuel consumption
- Plasma rocket (V.A.S.I.M.I.R. this is real!) : Adjustable trust and better fuel consumption. Can adjusts the trust to be low trust, very low fuel consumption (like a Ion Drive), or get high trust, with mid fuel consumption.
- Bielfeld-Brown reaction less units ( http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi. ... 178266.pdf ) : Use electric power to generate trust, low to mid trust.
- Nuclear Fission rocket : It's a nuclear fission reactor that heats the propellant and ejects it a high speed. Better that the Plasma engine, but generates radiation. Generates some electric power.
- Nuclear Fusion rocket : It's a nuclear fusion reactor that heats the propellant and ejects it a high speed. Better that the fission variation, with less radiation, and more easy to obtain fusion fuel (Hidrogen, H³), but is bigger. Can be improved with Gluon catalysis.


I not like the idea of the Diametric Drive, as I say is a "Nyan cat engine". Or better comparative, it's like building a endless motion machine with magnets.
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Re: Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

Postby VladVP » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:16 am

Zardoz wrote:I not like the idea of the Diametric Drive, as I say is a "Nyan cat engine". Or better comparative, it's like building a endless motion machine with magnets.

You also have to keep in mind that the energy consumption would be very high. (We do not just have to keep the negative mass in place, but also prevent it from collapsing.)
Even if people manage to overcome that, the speed capabilities of a diametric drive would be very limited, but as the famous E=mc² implies, speed increases mass which increases speed, so you can still generate a satisfying amount of acceleration, if you have the patience.
And if all of that weren't enough, we still don't know of a way to acquire negative mass. Especially not enough to have any good use for it. Please, if you have ideas please suggest them in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=727
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Re: Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

Postby ConnorY71 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:35 pm

VASIMR is definitely one to include. Something very similar to a VASIMR engine (minus the accelerator) could be the shield generator for my passive shield concept. I still think ion drives should exist in-game, for stabilising space stations and other low power uses. VASIMR, since it is more on par with rockets than ion drives, has a place in ships.
Has nuclear pulse propulsion gone out the window? I admit it is a wacky and dangerous concept, but it definitely has a place among sublight engines because of its power.
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Re: Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

Postby croxis » Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:54 am

Considering the ships can manipulate gravity fields for artificial gravity it isn't unreasonable to extend this to moving the ship itself.

Regardless of the sci-fi window dressing the gameplay will need to provide a large delta-v budget. I am interested in gameplay where the player has to be mindful of their resource for the jounry they are taking, but not to the degree where the player is stranded for even small variations in their destination.
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Re: Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

Postby Zardoz » Thu Dec 19, 2013 6:32 am

croxis wrote:Considering the ships can manipulate gravity fields for artificial gravity it isn't unreasonable to extend this to moving the ship itself.

Regardless of the sci-fi window dressing the gameplay will need to provide a large delta-v budget. I am interested in gameplay where the player has to be mindful of their resource for the jounry they are taking, but not to the degree where the player is stranded for even small variations in their destination.


We need to know at what scale will be game. A travel from Earth to Mars with the best engines that we can have in the real world (VASIMIR), will take 3 moths in the best case. We can't have a player waiting 3 moths that takes travelling these distances if we uses a scale 1:1. A solution is using a intra-stellar FTL engine, so going from a planet to another only takes 10-20 minutes. The other is using a scale of ~ 1:10000
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Re: Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

Postby ConnorY71 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:42 pm

croxis wrote:Considering the ships can manipulate gravity fields for artificial gravity it isn't unreasonable to extend this to moving the ship itself.

There's something called a disjunction drive that could work if gravity generators existed.

Zardoz wrote:We need to know at what scale will be game.

I agree. I don't want to spend my time coming up with a concept that ultimately doesn't fit into the game. That being said, figuring out the scale of the game is a tricky to get right. A related matter is whether the passage of time in-game will move faster than real time or not.
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Re: Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

Postby Zardoz » Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:27 pm

ConnorY71 wrote:I agree. I don't want to spend my time coming up with a concept that ultimately doesn't fit into the game. That being said, figuring out the scale of the game is a tricky to get right. A related matter is whether the passage of time in-game will move faster than real time or not.


Not time dilation like Kerbal. Remember multi player game... many people running in a server. You can't make that one run the time faster that the other.
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Re: Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

Postby ConnorY71 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:33 pm

I didn't mean for one player. I meant the passage of time in the whole game runs faster, like every hour in the game is 5 minutes in real life.
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Re: Sublight Engines and Ship Maneuvering

Postby croxis » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:47 pm

With planets and moons having dynamic orbits their speeds will need to be accelerated as well so they can have some impact on gameplay without needing time acceleration. Somewhere in the 1:50 to 1:100 range would be enough imho. Travel times could be scaled to the same ballpark (although 1:100 would take 22 hours to make a real life 3 month tripe.)

I want space to feel big. Being able to visit 10 planets in 3 minutes or flying over 30 star systems using ftl like the US midwest doesn't make space feel big. The advantage is that the player is able to do other gameplay on their ship while they are traveling, so it wouldn't be as boring as a run across high sec in eve online in a freighter. Moving to another planet (or planet/moon system) should take just enough time so the player feels like they are committing to something and plan on staying there for at least a while. And make orbit transfer windows meaningful in some cases. Sure something like Earth to Mars might just be a couple minutes, but WhiteSun core world to a BlueSun world I think should be up there on the time commitment.
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