Star Wars Day 2023 – Airbus Protect’s challenge
For Star Wars Day, we invited employees of Airbus Protect to invent a new and sustainable mode of transportation in the Star Wars Universe. Here are the winning answers from our contest:
ANSWER 1: 3 options for all types of travel by Leo Picou
I’ll start by splitting the type of trip into three categories :
- Inter-system (long range) : For travelling between solar systems
- Intra-system (short range) : For travelling inside the solar system (planet to planet) or inside the planet, from a city to another
- Intra-Urban (very short range) : Inside a city
The only viable way of transportation is the superluminic thingy (also called hyperdrive). It uses hypermatter as a fuel (like Coaxium). We do not know the economy nor the physics related to hypermatter fuel, a part for which it seems to be very rare and sought after. It seems that there are multiple hypermatter fuels available, the efficiency of the different fuels unknown.
The other deprecated option was using a slower speed starship in combination with Cryo-cycle stasis. People were put in artificial sleep for hundreds of years, the length of the journey. Once the hyperdrive has been developed, this mode of transportation has been abandoned.
Winner : Hyperdrive
Multiple sublight engine exist, and the main one known are :
- Ion engine : Energy efficient engine, but produce heat and mild radioactivity. Known to be forbidden to use near the atmosphere
- Chemical rocket engine : Traditional combustion engine.
Ion engine generates thrust by ionizing a gas such as xenon and accelerating the ions using electric fields. Ion engines have much lower thrust compared to chemical rocket engines, but they are much more efficient and can achieve much higher speeds over long periods of time. Ion engines are perfect for missions that require long-term propulsion, such as deep space exploration. Chemical rocket engines on the other hand are better suited for missions that require short bursts of high thrust, such as launching spacecraft into orbit.
To lift to the atmosphere, repulsorlift engine are used, and once the orbit is reached, Ion Engine is the most sustainable motor.
Winner: Ion Engine
Now we have a loooot of different choices ! Among all the planet and all the existing cultures in Star Wars, we can list :
- Animal : A lot of animals are used to transport people in several Planet. It seems to depends of the technological level the planet reached ?
- Repulsorlift engine : Anti gravitational repulsor, like a bike speeder. Can be personal or public transport, to decrease footprint by person.
- Special Guest : For Jedi, the use of force speed ! Jedi can increase to a huge amount their speed by using the force, but it exhaust them very fast. If the force is a quantifiable supply, the consumption of this mode of transportation could be defined as “kilometer per unit of force used”….
For more technologically advanced planets (e.g. Coruscant) people use repulsorlift technologies, and for poorer planets (Tatooine), people use animals and pedestrian transport.
Among all the ways of transportation, one of the most sustainable inside a city would be through the use of repulsorlift technology. Speeders are commonly used for personal transportation, and they can be powered by a variety of energy sources, including solar, electrical, and plasma.
Winner : Repulsorlift engine!
A part from the fuel, the engine and the distance traveled, other parameters must be taken into consideration :
- Repairability : We do not have any data on star ship repararability, but we do know that it is possible because we see several garages in the movies (even the little Anakin repair its own vehicle in the first movie!)
- Size and weight : Large battleships will require tremendous energy to be moved, but seem to hold thousands of people inside. The “per person” footprint needs to be taken into account.
- Materials : We do not have any data on recyclability and/or green-sourced material for the fabrication of starships
In conclusion I would say that sustainability is not a concern in the Star Wars universe. Not because of the fictional, or action-oriented type of movie, but rather that they seem to have inepuisable source of supply.
On Earth, we are concerned about sustainability because if we mess with our planet, we mess with our children and the future evolution of humanity. In a paradigm where you can mine and exploit a new planet, where there are 0 form of life, without worrying to impact humanity, would we really consider sustainability as a first concern ?
- YT-1300 Millennium Falcon Owners’ Workshop Manual
- Rebel Starfighters Owners’ Workshop Manual
- TIE Fighter Owners’ Workshop Manual
ANSWER 2: displacement-activated spore hub drive or transporter, by Simon Disclaire
Here is my answer in a few steps:
Let acknowledge that the Star Wars universe is always expanding. What was impossible a few years ago may become possible in the future. For example: Princess Leia becoming a Disney Princess.
In an Era of Multiverse let’s imagine a crossover between Star Wars and Star Trek. Be open-minded. Let your imagination run wild… it’s an open universe after all.
Use one of the most advanced experimental technology: Displacement-activated spore hub drive. The displacement-activated spore hub drive, commonly shortened to spore drive or s-drive, is an organic propulsion system. This technology used mycelium spores harvested from Prototaxites stellaviatori to “jump” or “leap” across the mycelial network. During such jumps, the ships were not in normal space but in the mycelial plane. The technology allows us to travel across the universe instantaneously.
“Imagine a microscopic web that spans the entire cosmos. An intergalactic ecosystem. An infinite number of roads leading everywhere.” (Captain Gabriel Lorca, Star Trek)
Transporter: the transporter is a type of teleportation machine, or simply teleporter. It is a subspace device capable of almost instantaneously transporting an object from one location to another, by using matter-energy conversion to transform matter into energy, then beam it to or from a chamber, where it was reconverted back or materialize into its original pattern.
ANSWER 3: The Force as an amplifier, by a brilliant Jedi
In the Star Wars universe, there are a multitude of means of transport, from the simple motorbike to the interstellar destroyer.
These different vehicles seem to be powered by at least an engine, and at best a nuclear reactor to allow them to move, and if necessary escape gravity and travel at the speed of light. There is never any mention of fuel or energy sources in the films, but one suspects that machines of gigantic proportions must be an energy drain.
A more sustainable and permanent solution might be to use the Force. Indeed, since the prequel, it is known that micro-organisms called midi-chlorians are present everywhere in the living world, and that they are the vectors of the mastery of the Force, this energy field created by life and present everywhere.
The variable concentration of midi-chlorians in a living being is the key factor in determining the sensitivity of the host to the Force, even if no absolute value is known to determine the sensitivity of an individual to the Force, it seems to remain variable.
One could therefore imagine a device, let’s call it a Force amplifier (or Force inducer), which would increase the potential of the midi-chlorians present in an individual, and thus make him more sensitive to the Force.
This device could increase the powers of an individual who already has mastery of the Force tenfold, allowing him to move a large ship on his own. It is recalled that during Luke’s training, Yoda trains him to move an X-Wing by the power of his mind, and demonstrates it to him. One can thus reasonably think that with an amplifier, a seasoned Jedi is able to make move a destroyer for example.
And for an individual with no initial affinity for the force, it is reasonable to assume that the amplifier would give him the ability to move objects of a more limited size, a personal transport or a dozen people at the most.
Of course, giving control of the Force to almost anyone or increasing someone’s powers tenfold can be dangerous if they decide to abuse it and use it for personal gain (cf Darth Sidious, Darth Vader etc). We can therefore imagine that this Force amplifier, which would be embarked in the largest ships, would be subject to a security device (we exclude small and personal transports, considering that they are private transports, under the responsibility of their owner/pilot). This safety device could consist of 3 or 4 co-pilots who could, following a unanimous decision, switch off the amplifier to stop the main pilot. And these co-pilots would also have to be protected from the pilot by Force jammers (an inverse device to the amplifier that would cancel the hold and use of the Force in a given area, or for a given person), as without this an ill-intentioned pilot could could attack his co-pilots to prevent them from switching off the amplifier.
Similarly, amplifiers on ships should have a safety feature that prevents them from being removed from the ship, so that anyone who wants to use it outside of its normal scope is stopped.
An amplifier would of course require energy to operate, but the advantage is that this energy would be a fixed and low cost, as we are talking about stimulating an individual’s body to improve their Force sensitivity, regardless of the size of the vehicle. It is also conceivable that it would be made of a material that would facilitate the conductivity of midi-chlorians (if such a material exists) to optimise the energy output of the device.
And May the Force be with You!