As I’ve stated many times before, I am in the midst of writing a Science Fiction novel, Project Destiny – the first book in The Legacy Series. It’s been a long, arduous process with many changes in form, plot, content, title, and character. One of the major changes over the whole process has been the ships propulsion systems. Now, it’s not an FTL drive system, but a sub-light system. My universe hasn’t achieved FTL – yet. In this process I’ve been doing a great deal of research on space ship propulsion systems – both sub-light and FTL. I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned.
As I alluded to in my opening paragraph, propulsion systems can be classified into two distinct categories: sub-light and Faster Than Light. However, anyone who has done any amount of reading and watching of Science Fiction can add a third category – instantaneous travel as seen in space folding (moving without moving).
What is propulsion?
The word is derived from two Latin words: pro meaning before or forwards and pellere meaning to drive. Propulsion means to push forward or drive an object forward. A propulsion system is a machine that produces thrust to push an object forward. On airplanes, thrust is usually generated through some application of Newton’s third law of action and reaction. A gas, or working fluid, is accelerated by the engine, and the reaction to this acceleration produces a force on the engine.
Sub-light Propulsion Systems
As its name implies, sub-light travel is moving at speeds below that of light (300,000 Km/s). From the earliest days of rocketry, we have endeavored to master a speedy and efficient means of sub-light travel to explore interplanetary space before making the leap to faster than light travel and exploring the stars. We have learned to harness the forces of chemical and nuclear energy to propel vehicles and missiles through space. One of the earliest challenges in space travel was finding a means of propulsion that was more efficient in its use of fuel, so those early vessels could accelerate to greater speeds and cover distances in shorter durations.
Faster Than Light Propulsion Systems
Once we have mastered sub-light speeds our next goal is the creation and mastery of Faster Than Light (FTL) travel. As its name implies, FTL is traveling at speeds Faster Than Light. There’s just one problem. According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, FTL is impossible. I’m not going to get into all the physics and such here. That is not what this post s about. I will say that in all of Science Fiction there have been few ships that have traveled at the speed of light let alone faster than light. Most of the FTL systems in science fiction don’t actually travel FTL. Instead, they find some sort of short cut such as warp bubbles, hyperspace, Stargates, wormholes, and such.
In the following weeks I will post a blog on a different Science Fiction propulsion system. Each week I’ll cover something different from chemical rockets and ion drives of sub-light travel, to warp bubbles, boom tubes, and KF Drives of FTL.
So stay tuned! Next week, because it’s been in the news recently, I’ll cover the Impossible EM Drive! Please share with your friends! The links are below!