Drive Systems

Two types of propulsion are available during this era: chemical rocket drives for system ships and ion drives for starships. As of 100 PF atomic drvies are merely in the reasearch phase and will not be made available to the public for at least another few decades.

Chemical Drives

Chemical drives burn solid oxygen, available at any docking station or SCC at the cost of 5Cr per unit. Fuel cost is doubled when taking off from a planetary atmosphere, and external tanks must be purchased for such duty. One external tank is required per drive in order to double the fuel capacity, price of the external tank is 250Cr per unit plus fuel. Tanks can be retained and refilled rather than disposed with no penalty, or removed and stored once docked at a space station. Note that when taking off from a planet, the entire external fuel supply is utilized in order to reach orbit (speed:0 hex/turn) and then the main supply is used for space travel.

As such, a ship equipped with chemical drives will have a maximum safe velocity, which can be calculated by figuring half the fuel capacity allocated per drive divided by the fuel consumption rate. This figure represents the number of 10,000km hexes the ship may travel per turn when using the fold out map from the KH boxed set. Note that if a ship accelarates beyond this maximum safe velocity, it will not have enough fuel to decelerate at its destination.

MSV = ½fuel capacity / FCR

Internal fuel capacity can be upgraded three times in sequence, the first time costs 10,000Cr and doubles the original fuel capacity per drive, the second costs 30K and triples the original capacity, and the final upgrade is 50K and quadruples the original capacity. Thus, it would cost 40K credits to triple the original capacity. External tankage can not be increased, as this is solely for lifting off from an atmosphere. However, ships launching from an orbital station may factor the external tankage into their MSV.

Note that the ADF for a ship equipped with the specifed amount and size drives will be 1. This can be increased by a factor of 1 by doubling the number of drives when applicable (no more than eight drives of any type are permitted, so in cases where doubling the number of drives exceeds eight this increase is not possible), which increases fuel capacity and consumption. Also, supercharged chemical drives have been recently made available which increase ADF by a factor of 1, which can be consecutively figured in (re: a ship that requires two A drives can have four SC drives with an ADF of 3). SC Chemical drives are only available through a military contractor and are double the standard price. Note that doubling the number of drives can only be performed once for increased acceleration by a civilian contractor, further doubling will have no effect unless performed by a military contractor. Again total number of drives must be observed for such increases. Due to the high cost of these perfromacne modifications, unless the players are operating under a corporate or military contract, for the most part any chemical thruster powered civilian vessel will have the standard allotment of drives and corresponding ADF of 1. These game mechanics have been introduced to depict what is possible in the absence of atomic drives rather than what is probable for common use.

Also noteworthy is the deck arrangement of system ships. Streamlined craft (available for system ships up to HS:5) will typically have their decks parallel to the main axis so as to permit movement when on the surface. Larger craft will typically (but not always) have the decks arranged perpendicular to the main axis. The bulk of a system ship's travel time will be spent coasting at zero G, as it will spend less time accelerating to the maximum safe velocity (or any other desired travel speed) than it will coasting along to its destination. Larger craft boasting higher fuel capacities will spend a little more time accelerating than their smaller counterparts, and as such at ADF:1 the crew can travel about the craft under such conditions...but once the desired travel speed is reached it will spend the bulk of the trip in zero G coasting.

Also note that if a ship accelerates past 200 hexes per turn, it will enter the void...but this is unlikely to happen on system ship designs considering the enormous fuel capacities and consumption rates. However, assuming if those prohibitive fuel capacity modifications could be made (remember, it would need fuel to decelerate on the other end), it would possible to convert a system ship into a starship. Realize this is merely a theory, not a rule. Also note that even if the theory could be realized, it is much more cost efficient to use the Ion drives for such duty.


EngineSize Fuel Capacity     Fuel Consumption Rate  Cost*
         A12u x HS per drive1u per ADF point expended per drive 25,000Cr
         B16u x HS per drive2u per ADF point expended per drive 50,000Cr
         C20u x HS per drive4u per ADF point expended per drive100,000Cr
* price is the same regardless of SCC size


Ion Drives

Ion drives burn liquid hydrogen (aka L-Hyd), available at any docking station or SCC at the cost of 5Cr per unit. However, an ion drive can burn pretty much any other fuel source incurring a penalty of ½ the base ADF (under most conditions, that translates to accelerating by one hex every other turn unless performance has been modified).

All Ion drives burn L-Hyd at a rate of one unit per ADF point expended. Thus, an interstellar trip would take a minimum of 402 units to complete: accelerating up to the sub-jump velocity of 200 hexes/turn, nudging the craft into the void by accelerating once more, followed by void exit decelration of one, and then resuming normal deceleration of 200 hexes thus coming to a complete stop.

As with Chemical Drives, doubling the number of Ion drives can increase the ADF by a factor of 1 (can only be performed once by civilian contractors, and the same maximum number of drives must be observed regardless of contractor). Prototype ion drives are in the works that can scatter the ion field around the ship's entire hull rather than directing it aft as thrust, creating a radar jamming window. However, this hasn't been made available to the public yet as it is still in the experimental stage, there are still a few bugs that need to be worked out. Like the chemical drives, these game mechanics illustrate what is possible rather than probable...in no way should a party have access to the modified "window" ion drives.

Engine Size  Fuel Capacity  SCC:I price  SCC:II price  SCC:III price
       A    1,000u  50,000Cr  75,000Cr  100,000Cr*
       B    2,500u  75,000Cr 100,000Cr       n/a
       C    5,000u 100,000Cr      n/a       n/a
* applicable only to Streel, Inc. owned/produced vessels, treat as n/a for any other application