Mass Drivers Technology / Science in Milky Way | World Anvil

Mass Drivers

Mass drivers (sometimes referred to as coilguns, railguns, or gauss cannons) are a type of kinetic weapon characterised by their usage of electromagnets to propel projectiles. They are some of the most common weapons in the galaxy, used on starships, ground vehicles, emplacements, and as infantry weapons. Mass drivers were some of the earliest weapons used in space combat, and are some of the simplest to manufacture. In fleet engagements, their effective range can vary from 50-100 km, based on enemy evasive and electronic warfare capabilities.

While "mass driver", "coilgun", and "railgun" are often used interchangably, the latter two terms refer to two different technologies. Coilguns (and gauss cannons) are more complex devices, using coils of wire wrapped around a barrel to form a magnet. Groups of these coils are switched on and off to 'pull' a projectile out of the barrel at great speed. Railguns use twin magnetic rails to form a magnetic loop with the projectile, which then forces the projectile out of the barrel.

Most early mass drivers were coilguns, as despite their greater complexity, were smaller and wore out their barrels much more slowly. Later developments in material science allowed for railguns of smaller size and greater barrel strength, and they became the dominant mass driver type in the galaxy. Within the past decade, however, advanced models of coilguns (usually called gauss cannons to differentiate their new generation) have made a comeback due to even further improvements in their technology.

Macro Battery

Macro batteries are oversized mass drivers (of either variety) that are tuned to fire extremely large projectiles. Derived from reverse-engineered weapons found in archaeological dig sites, their main advantage over traditional mass drivers is their payload variety. Traditional mass drivers use specialised high-density projectiles made to fit their barrels. Macro batteries can instead shoot anything with a magnetic field, from scrap metal to metallic asteroid chunks. Although they fire at a slower velocity than mass drivers, they are more power-efficient, and are usually employed at closer ranges in massed fire.


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