(UAS/UTN/ATIS) Helium-Fusion Plasma Impulse Drives
Nuclear-impulse type reactive drive using Helium-Hydrogen Fusion to create propulsion.
(Image 1: Fusion Impulse Primary Drive System of a UAS Navy (AFN) Vengeance (VE-AX) class Heavy Cruiser is located in the central stack, the satellite drives are secondary / auxiliary drives that are engaged for Hyper Cruise, or for short bursts of speed in Impulse Cruise. In addition, the plasma cyclers for the Auxiliary drive system are completely independent of the primary reactor - drive system coupling. In stead, the auxiliary drives are linked to the ship's secondary powerplant. This provides mobility in the case of catastrophic damage to the primary powerplant or drive system.+
Reactive drives based on Nuclear Impulse are the standard starship propulsion in use by the United Aquarian Systems and the UTN before them. The technology was popularised by developments in the early 23rd century, to create a cost-effective way of recycling energetic plasma released by Hydrogen-Helium Fusion Reactors typical of starships of this time. The technology has been updated and improved, with greater efficiency many times and remains in use on all known starship designs of human origin.
The Fusion process begins in the ship's primary reactors (often Helio-Barycentric Cold Fusion with Hydrogen-Helium), which releases powerful electromagnetic radiation. A by-product of this process is Helium, which is then pressurised and delivered to the drive array. Thermoelectric compressors in the drive core induce triple-alpha fusion, converting helium into carbon, releasing immense energy and heat which used funnelled outward into space by electromagnets on the drive nacelles, creating thrust. Recyclers at the drive level can recycle some of this carbon for reverse-fusion back into usable helium with a low but still considerable efficiency increase.
|| Note on Starship 'Max Speed':
Newtonian Physics doesn't set a limit on the maximum speed of an object, as force = mass * acceleration. Given enough acceleration, any ship - of any mass - can reach theoretically extreme speeds, potentially even near the speed of light if given enough time.
'Max speed' as per ratings on Military Starship propulsion is provided by the ship's board computer for Helm Control; and specifies the maximum recommended velocity in a set direction; while allowing the ship to deaccelerate quick enough to perform combat manouvers. For example, if a ship were to accelerate to 10,000 KM/s on Hyper Cruise, which is possible, it would take potentially several hours for the ship to deaccelerate to change course, as such limits of around 2000 KM/s are imposed, depending on the mass of the starship and the energy output of its primary drive system.