Interstellar Transport

Image from Anders Sandberg

Interstellar transport technologies include all those technologies related to the movement of cargo and passengers between star systems, distances of half a light year or more: true relativistic interstellar ships capable of making the entire voyage on their own, shorter range vessels made to travel via wormhole link that have a range measured in mere light hours or weeks rather than years, the network of traversable wormholes, the beamrider network, and all of the systems that power, support, or propel interstellar traffic.

  • Antimatter Catalysed Fusion  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Steve Bowers
    Propulsion using fusion boosted by relatively small amounts of antimatter.
  • Antimatter Propulsion  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, Mark Mcamuk, Chris Shaeffer, updated by Ithuriel
    Propulsion using antimatter rockets.
  • Archangel Corvette  - Text by Darren Ryding
    One of a million transapient corvettes in the Archosaurian Empire, noted for the eerie cyan glow of their heat deflection armour.
  • Arterial  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Major wormhole gate designed for particularly high volumes of interstellar traffic.
  • Barnard Banger  - Text by Mike Miller
    Interstellar craft transporting volatiles to distant systems.
  • Beamed Energy Propulsion  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, Mauk Mcamuk, Chris Shaeffer and Steve Bowers
    Propulsion of craft using beamed energy, or by the use of mass particle streams.
  • Beamrider Network  - Text by Todd Drashner
    An interstellar mass beam propulsion network was first conceived in the mid first century AT (late 20th and early 21st centuries c.e.). Today there are more beamrider routes than wormholes in the galaxy as a whole.
  • Bioship  - Text by Steve Bowers and M. Alan Kazlev
    Bioships are either grown partially or entirely using biotechnology or by a close analogue to biological growth: they can be very similar in final composition to other ships but often look distinctively 'organic' in form.
  • Biostasis  - Text by Steve Bowers with comments by John B
    A means of preserving biological life in suspended animation over long journeys or in unsatisfactory environments.
  • Boostbeam  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Mass-beam based system used to accelerate or decelerate spacecraft without the use of onboard reaction mass.
  • Caretaker Seed  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Caretaker God ISOs are known to replicate quasi-neumann fashion using seed-like devices.
  • Cargo Ships  - Text by Steve Bowers and Damon Court
    Freighter spacecraft.
  • Colony Ships  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Terragens, and in the past some xenosophonts, have used a number of different kinds of strategies to establish colonies across interstellar distances. The resulting ships range from gigantic and slow generation ships to much smaller data-only ships.
  • Combat Carrier  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Class of relativistic warship designed to transport and support smaller combat craft over interstellar distances.
  • Conspicuous Delight  - Text by Chris Shaeffer
    Halo drive ship of the Utopia Sphere empire
  • Conversion Drive  - Text by Adam Getchell, Todd Drashner, Mark Mcamuk, and Chris Shaeffer, updated by Ithuriel
    Conversion drives (or monopole catalyzed fusion drives, as they are more formally called) use magnetic monopoles to increase the efficiency of a standard fusion drive up to nearly 100% if so desired. These systems were first developed by Second Singularity transapients. They are currently the most commonly used drive for interplanetary or interstellar travel.
  • CPNC Civilization Ships, The  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A massive ship holding vast amounts of data; originally designed as a protection against the collapse of civilisation.
  • Creihtership  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, modified from original concept by Kevin Self
    Slang term for Vedokiklek interstellar sub-relativistic (rarely relativistic) freighters (Klhkkteskkdv in the Vedokiklek language.
  • Cycler  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A cycler is a ship or mobile habitat that travels continuously along an orbit or interstellar route in such a way that it makes a regular series of rendezvous with other stations, orbitals, planets, or stars along the way. Cyclers may be small or large, sparse or luxurious, slow or fast. They may be interplanetary (also called an Aldrin Cycler) or interstellar (also called a Schroeder Cycler), and may be completely passive (simple ballistic orbit) or may have course-correction drive units.
  • Darter Series Inter-Nexus Skimmer  - Text by Ryan B
    Fast general purpose ship.
  • Displacement Drive  - Text by Adam Getchell, Todd Drashner, Mark Mcamuk, and Chris Shaeffer
    Spacecraft containing, and propelled by, miniature space-time warps known as Void Bubbles.
  • Dominator Class Ship  - Text by Darren Ryding
    One of the capital ships of the Archosaurian Empire, recognised by its dark, broad mothlike 500 metre wide form.
  • Dragonfly Class ship  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Interplanetary and interstellar spacecraft developed in Solsys during the First Federation; it was used as a pursuit ship in anti-piracy operations, as a System Control Ship in the Eridanus League, and on occasion as an interstellar craft for journeys of twenty light years or less.
  • Dyaushpitr Interstellar Colony Ship  - Text by Steve Bowers
    An early interstellar colony ship.
  • Einstein Gate - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Wormhole linking Sol System and Tau Ceti. It is the oldest macroscopic wormhole still in operation and, apart from a period during the Version War when it was shut down, it has been in continuous operation since the middle Expansion Age.
  • En'en Suifu and Tattoi Jueru  - Text by Chris Shaeffer
    Two famous bioships in the service of the Zoeific Biopolity.
  • Engenerator Technology  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Technology which allows uploaded personalities to be transferred into physical bodies, sometimes at interstellar distances.
  • Explorer Class  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Long range, rugged and reliable self-repairing amat-powered exploration vessel used during the First Federation period. Some remained in service as late as the Empires age, and even today Explorer Class vessels little different from the original design are popular among many minor and independent clades, especially in the outer volumes.
  • FTL - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Despite remaining a dream of mindkind since time immemorial, faster than light travel (warp drive, hyperspace, etc) remains as elusive now as it ever was. The oft-repeated assertion among some FTL proponents that traversable wormholes provide a form of FTL is incorrect. Wormholes do not constitute real FTL, but rather a local curvature in space-time, allowing an object to move between two distant points at normal (slower than light) velocity.
  • Fusion Plasma Rockets  - Text by Luke Campbell
    Propulsion using nuclear fusion energy.
  • Generation Ship  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Huge, slow, self-contained interstellar ships taking more than one lifetime to arrive.
  • God Web, The  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Steve Bowers
    That part of the Nexus and the Known Net which is used by archailects (SI:4 and above).
  • Grapeship Ownership  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev Anders Sandberg and Steve Bowers
    Grapeship ownership varies according to polity, situation, and local laws and regulations. There are big transport and passenger corporations, as well as ships run by clades and their organisations. Private ships fill in the gaps and run the odd errands and tourist lines.
  • Grapeships  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Grapeships are the most common wormhole nexus passenger and cargo liners in the Inner Sphere and along the main wormhole routes. The ship consists of a "stem" onto which bulbous shuttles are attached (giving them their name due to their similarity to grape bunches).
  • Halo Drive  - Text by Todd Drashner, Adam Getchell
    At Singularity level:5 Void Bubbles can be coupled to the craft using gravity and magnetic forces, and a halo of void bubbles can be established at the front of the ship, essentially dragging the vessel along behind it in real space.
  • Herders  - Text by Steve Bowers and Juan Ochoa
    Small or ultrasmall automated ships which accompany mass streams of neumanns and other valuable commodities through space to their destination.
  • High Road, The  - Text by Todd Drashner
    System using Metric Technology that rapidly transports spacecraft across the Wormhole Nexus and Godweb.
  • Interstellar Magnetic Catapult  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Large, sometimes megascale electromagnetic mass driver which uses a magnetic charge to accelerate cargo to high velocity.
  • Interstellar Singleship  - Text by ROM 65536
    A small, light duty interstellar craft that can be operated for long periods of time by a single individual.
  • Interstellar Spacetime Catapult  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Halo Drive based accelerators used to launch cargo to relativistic or near-relativistic velocity. The rarity of the S5 (or higher) minds needed to construct them and supply the necessary control interfaces means that only fairly developed and rich systems that are not part of the Nexus can afford them.
  • Juggernaut Class  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev;
    Excluding the Keterist battle-moons (which are more ISO than Capital Ship), these are the largest warships ever built in Terragen history. The approach of a Juggernaut Class vessel is an awesome sight: a cylinder some 280 kilometres in length and twenty five kilometres in diameter, accompanied by a swarm of giant autowars that are dwarfed to apparent mote-size by their parent vessel.
  • Kepler Arc - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Important wormhole connecting Djed and Kepleria.
  • Kuranaba Gate  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Originally 75 meter, now 150 meter gauge Wormhole connecting Kuranaba and Big Tor. There is talk of this being further upgraded to 250 meters.
  • Laser Sail, Maser Sail  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Very thin ultra-light multi-square-kilometer (up to several 100 km in diameter) sail-based propulsion system used to reflect beamed laser or maser energy (up to thousands of terawatts of energy), allowing a reasonable rate of acceleration with no on-board reaction mass.
  • Linelayer  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Specialised spacecraft used to transport wormhole mouths to distant locations.
  • Macoss Habitat/Ship  - Text by Ben Higginbottom
    Interplanetary age habitat with a culture heavily influenced by anime.
  • Magellanica  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    the first interstellar colony ship from the Federated South America Space Alliance (Gran Colombia, Federation of Brazil and the Argentinian States).
  • Magnetic Drive Sails  - Text by Todd Drashner and Steve Bowers
    Reconfigurable superconducting loop structures used to accelerate and decelerate spacecraft.
  • Muuh Iceship  - Text by Steve Bowers
    An interstellar spacecraft created by the Muuh from an icy object such as a comet.
  • New Brooklyn Beamrider Arrays  - Text by Mike Miller
    Boostbeam emitters set directly into the surface of the cool star Little Brooklyn.
  • Nexus, The - Text by Orion's Arm Editors
    The common term for the Wormhole Nexus.
  • Nuclear Pulse Drives  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, Mauk Mcamuk and Chris Shaeffer, updated by Ithuriel
    Propulsion using explosive pulses of plasma external to the spacecraft
  • Nullship  - Text by Liam Jones
    Virtual 'ships' that travel the Lightways carrying virtual sophonts
  • Plasma Magnet Drive  - Text by Tardigrada
    The plasma magnet uses a low mass generator to produce large-scale magnetic fields. This is useful for various applications, most notably in spacecraft propulsion in the form of the plasma magnet drive(PMD).
  • Podship  - Text by Thorbørn Steen
    A passenger spaceship that emphasizes short transit times at all costs; the engine is the fastest that the technology of the maker allows and passengers travel as inactive data to save mass.
  • Propulsion Performance Statistics   - Text by Mauk Mcamuk and Chris Shaeffer
    Statistics for various kinds of Propulsion Technology used in the Orion Arm
  • Pyrenian Klarion Explorer Seedship  - Text by Thorbørn Steen
    A data-only podship exploration design.
  • Ramscoop and RAIR ships  - Text by Steve Bowers, Tim Weaver and Todd Drashner
    The Bussard Ramscoop concept, Ram Augmented Interstellar Rocket ships and other Magnetic Scoop devices.
  • Reaction Mass  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, Richard Baker, and David Dye
    Fuel used by a conventional rocket ship.
  • Reactionless Drives  - Text by Todd Drashner and Adam Getchell
    Propulsion without reaction mass.
  • Red (Tau Ceti Colony Ship)  - Text by Original article by Anders Sandberg
    One of the oldest surviving spacecraft in the Terragen Sphere.
  • Relay001  - Text by Todd Drashner
    The first major wormhole plexus and relay system built in the Inner Sphere. Became the model for later Relay systems.
  • Scout Ship  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A small, long-range relativistic exploration vessel, almost always conversion or reactionless drive propelled, equipped and designed for extended relativistic travel, with excellent shielding, and generally some measure of self-repair (but not self-replication) faculties.
  • Seedship  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Interstellar vessel carrying embryos, gametes or digitised DNA in order to raise humans or other modosophonts on arrival using robotic parents.
  • Ship Design: Shielding  - Text by (Original article by M. Alan Kazlev, Mauk Mcamuk, Chris Shaeffer, suggestions by Anders Sandberg and Xaonon)
    Protection against radiation and particle collision during interstellar flight.
  • Ship Style and Decoration  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Anders Sandberg; additions by Steve Bowers
    Among the different interstellar empires and colonies, ship design and outer decoration varies widely.
  • Shipyards and Spacecraft Repair Facilities  - Text by Ryan B, Todd Drashner, rom65536, Steve Bowers
    Shipbuilding and spacecraft repair facilities.
  • Solar and Microwave Passive Propulsion  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Sail propulsion using reflected photon pressure.
  • Space Hulks  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Deserted shipwrecks in deep space, some becoming habitats for hider clades.
  • Stargate  - Text by Stephen Inniss and Steve Bowers
    Alternative term for a traversable wormhole.
  • Starlark, The  - Text by Steve Bowers
    One of a numerous class of ships built after the Great Expulsion, as the population of Earth sought refuge in the worlds and habitats of the Solar System and among the stars.
  • Subrelativistic - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Pertains to any interstellar ship, fleet, cargo pellet, or other object travelling at a reasonably slow rate (say 0.01 to 0.1 c) so that time-dilation and other relativistic effects do not become evident. Subrelativistic vessels may take centuries to bridge the gap between even nearby stars.
  • The Rannamaari  - Text by Liam Jones
    The oldest marine-habitat beamrider ship.
  • Torch Drives  - Text by Luke Campbell with updates from Ithuriel
    External plasma drives.
  • Tricorn Ship  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Interplanetary or interstellar ships that use a tension design.
  • Void Ships  - Text by Todd Drashner and Adam Getchell
    Reactionless craft developed and used by the Highest Archailects; the vessel is apparently entirely enclosed within a Void Bubble.
  • Weylforge  - Text by Todd Drashner
    A Weylforge is an array of devices handling different aspects of wormhole construction.
  • Worldship  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Huge nomadic interstellar ship, typically moving at 0.01 to 0.1 c, where relativistic effects are unimportant.
  • Wormhole Nexus, The  - Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev
    A modular and ever expanding network of artificial wormholes, which already spans much of Terragen space and is over six millennia old.
  • Wormhole Termini  - Text by Steve Bowers, Luke Campbell and Todd Drashner 2009
    Wormhole stations located near, and within, wormholes.
  • Wormholes - A Layman's Guide  - Text by Todd Drashner and Adam Getchell
    Technical details about wormholes.
  • Wormholes - Cultural Factors  - Text by Anders Sandberg; additions by Todd Drashner and Stephen Inniss
    The addition of a wormhole stargate to a system has multiple effects both on local culture and on Terragen culture generally.
  • Yi Sun-Sin (System Control Ship)  - Text by Aaron Hamilton, adapted by Steve Bowers
    The Eridanus League used System Control ships like the Yi Sun Sin in an ultimately futile attempt to maintain order and cohesion over worlds many tens of light years apart.
  • Ynity Gate Project  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Failed project to transmit wormholes across interstellar space
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 28 February 2009.

Additional Information