|Future of Transport?|
The problem, of course, is that solar wind only blows in one direction: rimward. This means that cutting across the system, past the sun, is impossible. That is, it's impossible unless a secondary wind source can blow you toward the Sun.
The other main mode of transport in The Black Desert is the L-Drive - a form of laser propulsion. Lasers can be used to propel solar sail craft as well; it would just take a whopping huge laser, on the scale of a mini-Death Star, to pull it off across distances measured in AU. That's okay with me. After all, The Black Desert has Dyson Swarms, AI and Space Elevators, so what's a few Death Stars among friends?
In order to make sense of how this would work in practice, I will now be revealing the official map of The Black Desert. The image below was made using an animated orrery for reference, and is set for January first, 2210.
|One hex = 3 million kilometers. 1) Mercury, 2) Venus, 3) Terra/Luna, 4) Hektor Node, 5) Paris Node, 6) Mars, 7) Agamemnon Node, 8) Achilles Node, 9) Odessyus Node, 10) Jason Node||3)|
As you can see above, Terra and Mars both have Trojan objects; in this case, these object are asteroids that were towed into position and mounted with the largest solid-state laser arrays ever conceived. These lasers are used to push IPVs against the solar wind and onto their destinations across the system. To go from Terra to Mars on the date above, an IPV would need a boost through the orbits of Venus and Mercury from the Achilles Node Navigation Laser, like this:
You may notice that the IPV reaches Mars' orbit a couple of pips ahead of the planet itself in this diagram. There is a real simple explanation for that: Each of those pips (on every orbit) represents one Terran month. It takes, according to my calculations, about 70 days of travel. Therefore, Mar's will be there to meet the IPV when she finally arrives.
Now, there are more than a few problems with using these lasers to shortcut the Inner System. The two main ones are physical and political, respectively. Physically, we're talking about a laser that can fire across interplanetary space for weeks on end. That will take a lot of power. In addition, a laser that strong will fry the sensors of any spacecraft for a distance substantially greater that it can fry metal. There will have to be a "no-fly" around the laser beam for thousands of kilometers to prevent unfortunate accidents.
This leads us to the political problem: That laser cuts through the orbit of Venus, a planet held by the Dyson Federation in The Black Desert. The Trans-Humanist Dysonites are, if not actively hostile to the rest of the system, at least not friendly. The solution in the context of our setting is the aforementioned Aerospace Transport Authority. AsTrA basically exists to provide neutral administration of the Navigation Lasers in Terran and Martian orbit. Representatives from every polity in space, including the Dysonites, are present at each of the Nav Lasers to insure that they are not used in anger. The cost of maintaining these stations, and AsTrA itself is paid for by a toll system; you have to cough up in order to ride the beams.
This leads to our final problem: the practical one. At first blush, it would seem that AsTrA, the Nav Lasers, and all the costs and expenses associated with them only exist in order to make IPVs possible, and IPVs are used primarily to fund the Nav Lasers, AsTrA, and their expenses. It seems like circular logic, when looked at out of context, but the main reason for such a huge infrastructure is this: If just one nation has spacecraft that can travel between planets in weeks instead of months, the rest simply can't afford not to invest in the technology as well.