ships and fighter craft in "Battlestar Galactica" have three
basic types of propulsion systems - "Ion" engines and "Inertialess"
gravity engines for traversing real space, and for faster
than ligth travel the use of Jump Corridores to travel
between stars. Using these three forms of propulsion the ships
and vessels of the Galactica universe can traverse the great
expanse of space and the far reaches of the heavens.
Ion engines are the
primary means of propulsion found in the Galactica Universe. This
is due to the fact that Ion engines are
far more propellant efficient than either plasma or chemical propulsion,
as it expels molecules from the engine at a much higher speed.
A chemical propulsion engine has an exhaust velocity of 10,400
miles per hour while normal ion propulsion exhaust is 70,200 miles
per hour or greater.
Basic principle of
an Ion engine is to use an electromagnetic field to strip an atom
of its electrons, accelerating and expelling the positively charged
atoms from the engine exhaust port at a high velocity. Unfortunately,
Ion propulsion as we know it now, lacks the thrust to provide
Fuel used in a Viper
or Raider's Ion engines most likely consist of a heavy liquid
such as mercury, mixed with the highly explosive waste from the
fighter's main reactor called Solium. Combination of these two
compounds would create a very explosive combination, allowing
a fighter craft to use a minimal amount of fuel to create the
maximum amount of thrust in excess of a normal Ion engine.
Galactica's short lived run on television, we heard pilot and
crew constantly refer to their vessels having the ability to accelerate
to the speed of light using Ion engines. Commander Cane, Adama
and Colonel Tigh made comments about the Galactica being able
to "Accelerate" to light speed, and in the episode "The
Long Patrol" it was even stated that a modified Viper
could reach the speed of light and be controled manualy.
It is, of course, impossible
to accelerate a given body to the velocity of light without completely
altering the laws of physics. Thus logic dictates that some other
explanation is needed. Without delving into the far reaches of
theoretical physics, the most likely rational for some of the
comments heard in the series, is that the ships themselves were
not accelerating to the speed of light, but rather the ion particles
being discharged from the engine nozles were being expelled at
the speed of light.
This theory is supported
by what was seen in "The Long Patrol" as Starbuck
was able to maintain controle of his Viper at "light speed",
as was his Viper's advanced AI, C.O.R.A. It would appear that
the Colonials and Cylons do not simply use a standard Ion engine,
but rather a "Particle Thrust" Ion engine that possesses
an additional firing stage. Simply put, Ions are filtered through
a particle accelerator before being discharged. As such, the velocity
of the craft does not reach the speed of light, rather the exhaust
velocity of the Ion particles is nearly that of light.
Ion engines are very
stable, fuel efficient and thanks to the additional stage of a
particle accelerator, quite powerful. Their stability and high
endurance would make them the Sub-light engine of choice for any
space faring race.
Unlike the Colonial
Battlestars, the Cylons used an Inertialess gravity drive system
for sub-light propulsion. As many Cylon ships, including fuel
transports and fighters used Ion engines during the show's run,
this advance in the mechanics of zero-point energy fields is most
likely a recent advance in the design of Cylon capital ships.
This gravitic drive system would appear to be accomplished by
the use of the aforementioned zero-point energy field.
Esentualy a three dimensional
representation of the quantum objects known as 'superstrings', believed
to be the key building blocks of both matter and energy in our universe,
the zero-point field is essentially a leakage on the quantum scale,
of energy in process of being translated into this reality. Normally,
this leakage involves the creation and dissipation of energy such
that the result is an almost zero increase of energy.
Through their limited
use and understanding of the principles of zero-point energy fields,
humans and Cylons have been able to exploit this phenomenon in
order to create energy fields, artificial gravity and improve
weapon range and efficiency. It would appear however, that the
Cylons have discovered a way to manipulate zero-point fields on
a larger scale, providing their vessels with gravitic propulsion.
This form of propulsion is much more efficient, leaves no detectable
fuel traces and provides Cylon capital ships with a greater obtainable
speed and superior acceleration.
Faster than light travel
in the universe of "Battlestar Galactica" was never clearly stated.
After the show's cancellation their staff members commented on
the Colonial / Cylon forces being able to, perhaps travel through
Hyperspace but there is no cannon evidence as to exactly how the
ships of Battlestar Galactica were able to travel from solar system
to solar system.
Some have asserted
that Galactica had no FTL capability of any kind, but the logic
of this argument is laughable as both the Cylon and Human forces
must have had FTL in order to wage a 1000-year war across the
cosmos. Still, there are some things we know with regards to the
Galactica's abilities, which may come in handy in establishing
First of all, the
Galactica had no long-range FTL sensor technology. If Galactica
had such technology, there would not have been any need for Viper
patrols as the Galactica could scan ahead for any/all dangers.
Given that Vipers quickly found themselves out of communication
range of the Galactica, it also appears that they had no form
of FTL communication.
Given these facts,
whatever form of FTL used must not have required these aforementioned
technologies. Thus a space warpage, like what is seen on Star
Trek, would have been impossible for the Galactica. This lends
support to the Hyperspace theory.
A hole in the Hyperspace
theory exists however as the Galactica was not able to journey to
predefined points in space. From what we can see, it appears that
the Galactica emerges somewhere near or in a solar system, then
must travel all the way across the system before jumping to another
star. During the course of this trek across a lone solar system,
Colonial vessels must launch Viper patrols to scout out and chart
the entire area. Reason for these patrols cannot stem just from
tactical reconnaissance - it is almost as if looking for something.
Given the aforementioned
I have formulated a theory as to how FTL works in the universe
of Battlestar Galactica. It is my opinion that the ships of Battlestar
Galactica use what I call a Jump Corridor. By using a concentrated
graviton/tachyon beam, ships can form a wormhole like effect between
two gravitation null zones, creating a bridge between one star
and another. Using this system Cylon and Colonial forces are able
to leapfrog from one solar system to another.
Such a means of FTL
travel would fit perfectly with the Galactica universe. A Battlestar
sits at a Lagrange point and opens a corridor to another system.
Said Battlestar moves through the corridor and finds it's self
in a new solar system. In order to travel to another system the
Colonial/Cylon vessel must send out scouts to search for that
Lagrange point in a solar system where the offsetting tugs of
all the planetary bodies and star created a null zone - that one
and only point where a Jump Corridor can be produced which will
spirit the ship to yet another solar system.
I feel this idea fits
perfectly with what was seen in Galactica, as it would explain
why the fleet had to traverse entire solar systems, why Viper
patrols had to scour the system and how it is the scope of the
war was limited.