18 December, 2009

relative sizes

When designing a spacecraft or a spaceship, you want to make sure (if you care about the technical side of things and prefer to avoid later complications in a story, that is) that the sizes of your space going vessels is feasable. Unfortunately, there is much and yet little research on the area, so it's not easy to work out the tech-y side of things. Especially when you're not good at maths. Then there's the logistical side of things and the manning power, tonnage...

I don't like stories that contradict, but it's so easy to do. Then after working out what sizes of ships you may want, you want to work out what sort of FTL drive you want to give your ships so that the story doesn't end up spanning thousands of years. Faster than light travel is confusing and choosing a method of travel measurement isn't any easier.

When going with the jump drives, you need to look up folding space and instant teleportation, with something to do with warping the space-time continuum.

Warp drives and slip-stream drives are similar to jump drives as they bend the space-time dimensions around themselves.

Then you've got the hyperspace drives, where normal space is n-space, hyperspace is either h-space or z-space. It's confusing. Like wormholes, space-time is warped.

Whichever drive you choose to go with, you'll end up with massive problems such as where is all the energy requirements going to come from? How big a battery, reactor, engine, etc? Fusion or fission? Efficient solar cells? Dark energy or dark matter energy collectors? Fuel cells? Most likely, you end up having to create your own energy source, large enough to power the spaceship... but then how something small enough can produce such large amounts of energy? Well...

Doing stuff like this is a little hobby of mine. It's not important, but it's fun to do in spare time. Especially cos I'm no good at maths and don't understand a bit of spherical trigonometry, not to mention high school circular trigonometry. Extrapolating all my limited knowledge beyond the stars just skews everything. It's a nice challenge to try and make myself learn more maths.

I like to think. Our solar system is such a size and it took some of our satellites years just to reach its outskirts. If you are talking of travel between systems... How many hundreds of thousands of years you could be talking if you are travelling at light speed? Then if you want faster than light communication, is gravity a possibility? Anti gravity a possibility? Most electromagnetic waves would still move at approximately light speed.

The easiest thing to do is... well, not mention all these things in a story. BUT then the story would be all the poorer for it or so I believe.

There's still the matter of what shape a space ship should take. Should it be sleek, triangular and reduce drag? Comet shaped? UFO shaped? Amoeba shaped? Some of the coolest spaceships would probably be those based on sea creatures or micro-organisms. They just look cool. Circles and flagella and cilia.

Should a space force be based on the navy or air force or a mixture of both? Should they include marines? How many people are required to man a certain sized ship? How big is the payload?

I haven't read that much space opera or science fiction. I've only roughly followed Farscape and Firefly and Doctor Who and Stargate and the Honor Harrington series. That's plenty enough for food for thought right? Anyway, I will work away at these little questions and maybe have myself and self-made answer in two decade's time.

Here is a site I found on relative fictional space craft sizes:

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