KK-Drive Spacecraft Technology

The posigravity, or KK-drive, was invented on Terra by Alex Kurita and Sumako Kinoshita about the year 2280 A.D. An equivilent system was invented by the Thranx and the AAnn about 100 years before Terra. Some evidence indicates other races developed the drive independently. After the historic first meeting with the Thranx, it was discovered the human version of the drive was more powerful, and had a higher power-conservation ratio, making the system less costly to operate.

Soon humanx teams of scientists made a number of improvements, and the modified drive was installed on all ships. Other races began ordering parts to make their own improvements. Spurred by the Humanx-Pitar War of 2365-68 A.D., the scientists made several major breakthroughs in the system. Along with this the Thranx made a major modification in the system, producing the SCCAM shell. In 551, an improvement made by the natives of Ulru-Ujurr which would allow a KK-drive ship to land on a planet's surface without the widespread destruction that would normally occur. The actual circuitry of the drive and the SCCAM shell are very closely guarded secrets.

All KK-drive spacecraft have the general look of a balloon stuck on the end of a plumber's helper. The "suction cup" of the helper is a generating fan for the drive field. The ship's ultimate speed depends on how deep the fan is: the deeper the fan, the higher the speed.

The "handle" of the plumber's helper connects the fan with the "balloon". In the handle is housed the hydrogen sparkplug that provides the initial power for the gravity field. As the field can be channelled to a certain extent, the sparkplug also provides the ship with internal power for things like the artificial gravity and lighting. In the event of total drive failure, provisions have been made to convert the sparkplug and fan into an ion drive.

The "balloon" is the ship's habitation section. It contains the controls, living quarters, cabins, cargo hold, and so on. Also housed in this section is one or more shuttlecraft for transport to the surface of a planet. The framework and hull of a ship is made of Duralloy. Individual modifications can be and are made to ships, according to the needs of the owner.

Initial ship's power is from the batteries. Power is fed to the ignition radioactives and the hydrogen "sparkplug". Once this is started, the enormous power requirements of the drive can be met. The power is channeled to the Caplis generator at the bottom of the generating fan. This in turn creates a small spherical gravity field just in front of the fan. The strength of the field is allowed to increase until it exceeds the ship's natural gravity. The ship is allowed to move towards the drive field, then the field is moved back to its original position. The ship moves toward it again, again the field is moved. This process is repeated indefildtely to pull the ship. So actually the ship moves in a series of rapid jerks so close together it seems to be one unbroken pull. The ship's velocity is determined by the strength of the drive field. At the usual interstellar velocities, the field strength is the same as a small sun.

When a ship reaches the speed of light, the drive field becomes teardrop shaped, with the point in the direction of travel. This warping creates a cone-shaped field of stress in which matter acts differently, allowing post-light speeds. Exceeding lightspeed is called "changeover". The acceleration rate goes up enormously after changeover. At post-C speeds, the ship is said to exist in "space-plus", as opposed to the near-instantaneous "space-minus" of stellar communications. Beyond the speed of light, the doppler shift makes the stars appear as prismatic lines, distorted by the field of stress. The glow of the drive field is purplish in color due to the bending of light waves.

A KK-drive ship goes off inter-stellar drive beyond the boundries of a solar system to prevent the possible modification of planets' orbits. For maneuvers within a system, the drive field is turned way down in strength. A ship cannot land on a planet, especially an inhabited one, while on drive. The results would be major destruction: a chunk of the planet's crust gouged out, tsunamis, superhurricane winds. There are severe legal penalties for those who do so and survive. The dangers to the ship are as follows:

The computers must keep the field centered with respect to the fan and generator. If it gets too close, or too far ahead, the ship must be stopped and the drive field restarted.
If the field starts oscillating, the resultant vibrations could shake the ship to pieces.
A piece of matter impinging on the field at the moment of activation could result in a field inversion, turning the ship inside-out.
The computer handles these situations, and runs the ship. The humanx pilots are aboard to make decisions and troubleshoot.
The drive field can be channelled somewhat and provides electrical power to the rest of the ship. These systems include:

Artificial gravity; posigravity (tractor) beams for handling cargo; a sophisticated sensor network, force screens for both stellar debris and defense; and the interspace weaponry.