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-   -   Stutterwarp as a WMD? (http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discuss/showthread.php?t=39651)

Brandon C December 14th, 2018 10:49 AM

Stutterwarp as a WMD?
 
On another board, a poster was looking for a non-abusive FTL drive for his campaign. I brought up the stutterwarp drive, with a brief description of what it was and how it it worked.

Another poster chimed in and said that, like all pseudo-velocity drives, a ship could be accelerated to useful fraction of c and flown into a planet.

When I asked how, he said that once the ship was in orbit around a world, let the ship fall in, turn on the drive to regain orbit, turn it off, let, the ship fall, etc:

Quote:

Falling builds velocity. You gain altitude with the stutterwarp drive, which does not change your velocity. Then you fall again... Now, doing this in the band where the stutterwarp is effective will be fairly slow, but you can do it in a different star system from your target, then warp in, line up, turn the drive off, and your now fractional-c spaceship is a weapon of very massive destruction.
If this was possible, it should have already been done in the ~150 year history of the stutterwarp by a military or terrorists, but I don't remember any references. Did the game designers just not consider this or is there an obvious technical reason it wouldn't work?

My first guess would be power plant duration: I don't think a ship with a fuel cell or MHD turbine has enough fuel to build up a dangerous velocity and then reach the target world in another star system explorations ships might, but I'd have to work out how long it would take the ship to reach, say, 0.1 c). Ship with nuclear plants tend to be large military ships and very large commercial ships.

McPerth December 14th, 2018 12:44 PM

I guess it would work, if you avoid your ship to be disintegrated in the atmosphere reentry.

In 2300 AD setting ,most ships are not streamlined, nor able to enter into atmosphere, and those that are must be very careful about the reentry vector, and all those details that IRW avoid your ship to end up as the unfortunate Challenger.

And even in those latter cases, I guess the reentry speed they can sustain wothout disintegrating is limited, and probably at a level where this danger is also limited.

Those are, IMHO the main limitation to use a ship this way as MDW. This does not avoid, though, to be used as a kamikaze with a fission or fusión plant working (if it has so, as most comercial ships work on MHD power plants), nor to carry (as an example) steel ingots or balls (that I guess could reach the surface, albeit dimished in size due to atmosphere friction) to be released at those speeds, producing less damage tan a full ship, but that equivalent to small meteorites (even more, as their speed could be higher) along a large área if they are released as "shotgun pellets", so to say...

The, again, the main reason not to use those tactis would be the political effect they might have.

See that in the several wars that have affected colonial powers (e.g. CAW or German Reunification War) no orbital facilities have been attacked, nor have colonies have been bombed or space bombardment used. Not even a colony invasion has ever been tried (see this thread, specifically post #5, about my view on this issue).

AnotherDilbert December 14th, 2018 01:00 PM

It would take quite some time to accelerate a ship to relativistic speeds at less than 0.1 g.

E.g.:
To accelerate a ship to 0.1 c ≈ 30 000 km/s = 30 000 000 m/s at 0.05 g ≈ 0.5 m/s² would take 30 000 000 / 0.5 = 60 000 000 s = 16 666.67 h = 694 days ≈ two years.


This leaves the defenders plenty of time to react. A well-placed bucketful of gravel would trivially destroy the attacking ship.

(Technical detail taken from FFS.)

mike wightman December 14th, 2018 01:05 PM

If you attempt this tactic your ship's stutterwarp builds up a charge as if it is travelling the LY distances it can in a low gravity region.

Long before it achieves a real universe velocity that even gets close to a small fraction of c you have a choice - discharge in a gravity well or risk explosion. Your chance of drive explosion increases exponentially the longer you go past the discharge limit.

This ties in with my theory of why stutterwarps build up such explosive potential in the first place.

AnotherDilbert December 14th, 2018 01:24 PM

In my example above the ship would only have travelled distance = At²/2 = 0.5 × 60 000 000² / 2 = 9 × 10¹⁴ m ≈ 0.03 Pc.

Energy charge buildup shouldn't be a problem?

McPerth December 14th, 2018 01:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mike wightman (Post 596545)
If you attempt this tactic your ship's stutterwarp builds up a charge as if it is travelling the LY distances it can in a low gravity region.

Long before it achieves a real universe velocity that even gets close to a small fraction of c you have a choice - discharge in a gravity well or risk explosion. Your chance of drive explosion increases exponentially the longer you go past the discharge limit.

This ties in with my theory of why stutterwarps build up such explosive potential in the first place.

IIRC, the tantalum coils don't explode if the range limits are exceded, they just decay quickly and irradiate the whole ship, killing al lthe crew (and bing left useless), but I havenever read in the rules that they explode.

Nonetheless, as you're not the first one (and some of you with extensive 2300AD knowledge) to tell or hint they explode, could you please tell me where it is said they do?

McPerth December 14th, 2018 01:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnotherDilbert (Post 596546)
In my example above the ship would only have travelled distance = At²/2 = 0.5 × 60 000 000² / 2 = 9 × 10¹⁴ m ≈ 0.03 Pc.

Energy charge buildup shouldn't be a problem?

No, it would not, as the limiting factor in this case is distance (7.7 ly), not time. Fuel, though, could be a true problem if your power plant is MHD (or fuel cell)...

This could be done, time allowing (it would need to be quite planned) at another system and then move to the target, as the ship keeps its speed and momentum when stutterwarping.

Brandon C December 14th, 2018 01:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnotherDilbert (Post 596544)
It would take quite some time to accelerate a ship to relativistic speeds at less than 0.1 g.

E.g.:
To accelerate a ship to 0.1 c ≈ 30 000 km/s = 30 000 000 m/s at 0.05 g ≈ 0.5 m/s² would take 30 000 000 / 0.5 = 60 000 000 s = 16 666.67 h = 694 days ≈ two years.


This leaves the defenders plenty of time to react. A well-placed bucketful of gravel would trivially destroy the attacking ship.

(Technical detail taken from FFS.)

Yeah, someone would notice a ship playing yo-you with a world in that time. Add to that that few ships have fusion reactors with sufficient endurance, which someone would notice was missing ...

whartung December 14th, 2018 01:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnotherDilbert (Post 596544)
It would take quite some time to accelerate a ship to relativistic speeds at less than 0.1 g.

I was about to say.

This is like a blimp attack.

"AH! The blimp is attacking! Run for your lives!" ... checks his watch. Looks at the ground. Lights a cigarette. Sighs. Looks up. "Ahh! It's still coming!"

Mind if SW preserves velocity, then you can build up velocity at some other planet, then SW over to the target, and drop SW on top of it.

Brandon C December 14th, 2018 01:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by McPerth (Post 596541)
I guess it would work, if you avoid your ship to be disintegrated in the atmosphere reentry.

If the ship gets in the atmosphere, it's well within the Wall: the stutterwarp can't get it out and the ship will crash.

Quote:

Those are, IMHO the main limitation to use a ship this way as MDW. This does not avoid, though, to be used as a kamikaze with a fission or fusión plant working (if it has so, as most comercial ships work on MHD power plants), nor to carry (as an example) steel ingots or balls (that I guess could reach the surface, albeit dimished in size due to atmosphere friction) to be released at those speeds, producing less damage tan a full ship, but that equivalent to small meteorites (even more, as their speed could be higher) along a large área if they are released as "shotgun pellets", so to say...
Outside of large military ships and very large commercial ships, I don't think any other starship uses a nuclear plant, and if pirates or terrorists steal one of those, someone *will* notice and the search for it will be extensive.


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