Capital 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. Weapons


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 high acceleration.

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.

Unfortunately, during 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 a theory.

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.


All related indicia of "Battlestar Galactica", is trademark of "MCA Universal Picture Corp.", LP. ©1978-2005. All Rights Reserved.