From Acw

Taken from an address by Rear Admiral Charles Thornton to the SBE Officers Academy

Current military shipboard wormhole generators are able to transport a ship and all mass in the immediate vicinity across a distance of slightly more than 47 light years. Commercially available generators and older models usually peak around the 30 light year mark. Because of this, and because of the expense of creating and running a wormhole generator, in much the same way that late 20th century USA fleets focused around the aircraft carrier, space fleets of the 24th century focus around the Wormhole Generator ship.

Accompanying ships each are designed to perform a specific function, relying upon the Wormhole Generator to provide interstellar locomotion. Indeed other than the addition of a wormhole capable ship, fleets today resemble the ocean going fleets of the 21st century.

Wormholes whilst being a two hundred year old technology are still not an entirely risk free means of transportation. The first issue involves the energy necessary to create a wormhole. To regularly generate the power to produce a wormhole, most Wormhole ships use an array of dedicated fusion reactors. Rumours persist that several governments have experimented with anti-matter reactors, but for the moment that is just idle speculation. Nevertheless, the production of so much energy is a risk in and of itself. Whilst fusion reactions are relatively safer than fission reactions, things can and still go wrong.

The second risk comes with the wormhole itself. Wormholes are notoriously sensitive to gravity wells which are generated by all matter. The more powerful the gravity well the more interference with a wormhole. At best, this interference will cause a deviation of the destination of only by a few meters, at worst, a gravity well can rip apart a wormhole and destroy a ship mid transit.

Of course it should be said that energy itself does not suffer serious loss from this interference. Thus interstellar communication requires only significant amounts of energy rather than the obscene levels it takes to transport matter. Upon this basis, most of the great powers of today have established networks of always on wormhole communications arrays that ensure that say the colony on Hydra can provide instantaneous communication to their superiors back on Earth.

Additional energy can be used to augment an existing wormhole stabilising it’s path, and indeed most of the research into wormholes of the last century has been spent in developing this aspect. Thus, whilst some ships theoretically have the power to produce a wormhole, they may lack the additional energy requirements needed to make the wormhole stable enough to be safely traversable by life.

You see, this instability leads to the deterioration of matter. Micro gravity wells causing barely discernible gravity fluctuations are still enough to cause damage at a microscopic level. One or two jumps might be safe enough, but after thirty the damage to microorganic life is in nearly all cases fatal. Thus, the energy required to generate a safe wormhole goes from one or two dedicated fusion reactors to somewhere between ten and fifteen.

Despite the advances of technology, the most accurate wormhole (aboard we believe the HMS Thatcher) is still only capable of reaching 650,000km from a Earth size planetary body. Any closer and a generated wormhole increasingly - at an exponential rate – runs the risk of a catastrophic failure.

As an example at full acceleration, a Void Fury is capable of reaching and sustaining five gees. At such an uncomfortable pace, it would still take the Fury nearly an hour and a half to reach the planet. But, by the time it got there it would be travelling at over 450,000km/h and thus shoot right past the planet. So, instead, the ship accelerates for around half the trip, and then begins to decelerate as it approaches the planet. This more reasonable pace still takes two hours to reach the planet.

And let us not forget that both accelerating and decelerating both require the use of energy. And of course let me tell you from personal experience that 5gees for even a few seconds is quite torturous. Here we are talking about two full hours of that sort of acceleration. Whilst bioengineering has to some extent been used by all to harden the human body to the rigours of both high and low gravity, that does not make such a trip any more comfortable.

Remember this is assuming we are travelling by Fury, most capital ships are only capable of reaching two and half to three gees which ladies and gentlemen put an approach time to the planet of around three hours.

Anyone want to volunteer to work for three hours in a three gee environment?

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