Monday, November 28, 2011

The Black Desert Primer Preview: The L-Drive

The Black Desert Primer Preview:  The L-Drive

         With only a few days left before it becomes available, this week we'll be featuring short excerpts from The Black Desert Primer.  Today, we'll take a peek at one of the signature pieces of Tech from the setting, the L-Drive:
1) Water Tank, 2) Electrolyzer, 3) Turbofan, 4) Propellant tanks, 5) Fusion Plant, 6) Laser generator, 7) Thruster Bell

The L-Drive
One of the two breakthroughs in aerospace technology that made the modern solar system possible, L-Drive is a laser propulsion system that super heats the atmosphere under a rocket to produce thrust without the need to carry reaction mass. Unlike the laser systems proposed in the early twenty-first century, which involved using ground-based laser arrays to propel a spacecraft, L-Drives use lasers mounted in the stern of the rockets themselves. L-Drives only became possible after the Helium-3 boom on Luna, which allowed the mass-production of safe fusion plants in the 2050s. By the dawn of the twenty-second century, L-Drive technology had become as commonplace as the use of disposable, multistage chemical rockets became a thing of the past.
At its heart, laser propulsion is relatively simple. A laser, usually mounted in a ground installation, fires into a specially shaped bell in the tail of the spacecraft. The laser's ultra-high temperature instantly super heats the air in the bell, causing it to expand and push the craft upwards. By pulsing the laser, The air is replenished and the shuttle is boosted further and further up.
L-Drives are an evolution of this concept. An on-board fusion reactor produces the massive amount of power needed to fire a high frequency laser, allowing the spacecraft to take off and land anywhere. In addition, the air used to propel the craft is provided by a system of ducts and turbofans that compress and feed massive amounts of atmosphere to the thruster bell. This allows an L-Drive equipped rocket to launch much larger masses into orbit than conventional laser propulsion systems. Once in space, a ship with L-Drive can use stored propellant to accelerate and maneuver. While the thrust is less than a conventional chemically powered rocket, it is not necessary to punch through the thick atmosphere as fast as possible, as that very atmosphere provides the spacecraft's propellant. The twin virtues of unlimited air and nearly unlimited power make L-Drive the most efficient, and therefore cheapest, method of putting a ship into Low Earth Orbit.

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