Mass Altering Gravity (MAG) drives are the only engine design humanity has discovered that allows them to travel faster than light. These drives employ a combination of technology operating on principles similar to the theorized Alcubierre drive. Developed by Doctor Koji Katsumi and Doctor Marisa Sapp in 2185, the MAG Drive was key in bridging the gap between mankind’s scattered colonies across the stars, giving birth to the modern star nations that stretch across the vastness of space.
Table of Contents
THE PROPULSION TRAIN
DARK MATTER REACTOR
The Dark Matter Reactor (or DMR) operates on the principle of dark matter and dark energy existing in dense fields around normal matter. During sublight operations, ships use collector assemblies (Note, due to dark matter and dark energies transparency to conventional matter, these collectors are usually internal to the hull) to consume dark matter and dark energy. During normal operations, bunkered dark energy collected during sub-light operations is compressed in the reactor using focused anti-gravity units. At high compression rates, dark energy neutralinos undergo mass to energy conversion. The energy annihilation is regulated by containment units powered by ancillary fusion cores. The energy produced in the core is sub-divided into energy groups of s specific frequency and ported to the generator assembly for follow-on use.
Discrete string energy, known as strands, leaving the DMR are collected into various compression chambers of the generator assembly. Strand energy, divided into 6 unique frequencies in 3 distinct inverted pairs (Alpha-Omega, Beta-Gamma, Tau-Zeta) are focused in the generator assembly under laser based and anti-gravity based focusing elements. These produce a combination of exotic matter (EM) and standard matter (SM) depending on the string energies compressed.
During sublight operations, Beta-Gamma compressions dominate the generator cycles, producing mostly standard matter for the ship’s sublight engines (in the form of low mass ions such as Hydrogen) and even some of the containment reactor’s fusible material (in the form of Helium-3). FTL and Boost operations depend predominantly on Alpha-Omega compressions generating mostly exotic matter. Tau-Zeta compressions – which produce equal SM and EM – are used mostly in military-grade engines to recharge either standard matter or exotic matter-energy banks. If either bank is full, the residual energy is either ported directly to the injector for use in the current mode of propulsion or ejected as exhaust. In civilian engines, Tau-Zeta strands are frequently not used.
The injector assembly is series of mass and energy accelerators buried in a ship’s hull. Using a combination of laser focusing, anti-gravity and magnetic acceleration, these units super accelerate the ship’s exotic matter into the Phase Coils.
Each phase coil in the FTL assembly has a number of injectors with the number dependent on the engine size and efficiency. Military grade injectors are usually paired closely with the generator assembly to minimize energy losses. However, this design is more susceptible to feedback overloads from transients in the phase coils themselves and thus require more frequent maintenance and larger engineering team to monitor engine operations.
Civilian ships will frequently space the generator assembly further from the injector-shift coil assembly and build in regulators which will shut down an injection path if feedback is felt coming from the Shift Coil. This results in a degradation in engine efficiency and limits the field effect of the shift coil. Subsequently, Civilian ships are not able to approach the same superluminal speeds possible by high end military ships.
Phase Coils are the primary component of any starship’s faster than light and near light engine trains. Comprised mostly of exotic matter, they amplify the field effect produced by the opposing, accelerated exotic matter streams.
In there most basic forms, phase coils operate in pairs. Referred to the Alpha Coil (or Compressive Coil) and the Omega Coil (or Expansion Coil), these two units work in tandem with their injectors to produce a compressive field effect in front of the ship and an expansion effect behind the ship. The net effect is to suppress the mass of the ship felt by the surrounding universe as well as produce a gravitational gradient or ‘wave’ which the ship rides.
Frequently, ships will incorporate additional coil assemblies behind the Alpha Coil and Ahead of Omega Coil that help regulate the Alcubierre effect. These follow on coils are called Beta Coils (Semi-Compressive Coil) and Delta Coils (Semi-Expansion Coils). The greater number of these coils, the more efficient the engine. However, this also increases the cost and the engine complexity. Again, military grade engines tend to use Beta and Delta coils to a greater extent than their civilian counterparts allowing military ships to reach greater superluminal speeds.
MODES OF OPERATION AND LIMITS
FASTER THAN LIGHT (FTL) – “HYPER”
Faster Than Light Mode or FTL – referred to colloquially as ‘Hyper’ – is the drive mode used for faster than light travel. In this mode, the ship’s drive coils produce a normal space bubble around the ship as space is warped by the field effect of the Phase Coils. As explained previously, when this occurs the ship’s apparent mass drops as the gravitational gradient builds. As the ship’s apparent mass drops to zero and the gradient increases, the ship accelerates near instantaneously to superluminal speeds.
THE LIGHT LIMIT (L-LIMIT)
FTL mode is a very sensitive balance between the output of Alpha (and Beta) Coils versus the output of the Omega (and Delta) Coils. Consequently, ship’s cannot enter FTL within the gravitational influence of a star system. This limit is referred to as the Light Limit or L-Limit of a star. The L-limit of a star – and any interstellar body for that matter – is given by multiplying the stellar objects apparent mass in kilograms by the Hawking Constant (7.0387129e-22 or Hc) which gives you the objects L-Limit in kilometers.
L-Limit (in KM) = Object Mass (in Kg) * Hc
Were a ship to attempt to go to Hyper within the L-limit of an object, then that ship would be torn apart by the torsional effects of its own MAG drive. Consequently, ships are constantly monitoring for potential gravitational sources using their sensor arrays. Additionally, ship’s will steer clear of charted gravity wells in order to remain at hyper for the duration of their cruise.
Some military ships use artificial gravity fields to simulate the effect of an L-limit in a local region, thus preventing starships from escaping their grasp. These special types of ships, known as interdictors, are the bane of pirates and enemy warships alike.
SUB LIGHT – “BOOST”
Conventional fusion drives on starships do not provide the necessary acceleration and velocity for a ship to travel to the edge of a star system at any reasonable amount of time. The acceleration and deceleration phase takes years for any sort of interstellar speeds and is further complicated by unforeseen hazards that the ship may encounter. Surprisingly, the answer to the question of short range intersystem travel came in the from the MAG drive itself.
In near luminal configuration – colloquially referred to as Boost – the ship’s Alpha and Omega coils are charged alone. This produces a partial fold of space-time – a spatial wave which the ship rides; the apparent mass of the ship is minimalized to improve the efficiency of sublight engines. By controlling the output of the coils, the ship can achieve fractional luminal velocities within the L-limit of a star. This allows for travel between planets in the system.
While not needing to resupply fuel, MAG drives do need to occasionally ventilate off excess heat, which is stored internally, and continuously radiated off the hull of the vessel. How frequently each ship will need to ventilate heat is dependent on each individual ship and how much power is generated and consumed; ships running at lower speeds will be able to travel much further than those focusing on speed. The need to rid themselves of excess heat is the primary reason why nearly every ship is capable of suborbital atmospheric flight.