Beam Propulsion

A means of spacecraft propulsion based on imparting momentum to a target ship through the use of beams projected from a remote station. As a form of open-cycle propulsion it is not subject to the rocket equation and hence ships using it can achieve incredible efficiencies and travel times.
  Ships relying on beamed propulsion are termed beamliners or beamriders, other ships can mount beam-catching equipment to augment their regular propulsion, this typically consists of a large reflective sail deployed from the ship and magnetic field coils to reflect the beam. The beams are projected from a fixed installation usually built on something like an airless moon or large asteroid, useful as both a momentum sink and source of raw materials for beam particles. Typically consisting of tiny particles held collimated by a laser, the propulsion beams are fired from accelerators to track ships, imparting a force on them as they reflect off ships' beamrider sails. Ships using them pay a fee to cover the cost of energy and materials for the beam, plus station upkeep and other such ancillary charges.   Beamed propulsion can be extraordinarily efficient, by bouncing the beam off the ship and back to the station its momentum can be recovered, plus or minus that which was imparted to the ship. In this manner, an incoming ship being decelerated by the station actually adds its momentum to the beam, which the station can reflect at another ship which must be accelerated, accomplishing both tasks for much less energy than if the two ships had to run their own torch drives. Beam stations and beamliners are thus a crucial part of travel in developed regions of Starweb space. Stations are constructed in new systems as part of starweb wormhole expansion, where they will be used to push traffic to and from stargates and other locations.   The Star Patrol maintains its own parallel beam network throughout Starweb space, enabling it to move its ships rapidly without being caught up in civilian congestion. Patrol ships have special transmitters to interface with their beam stations and authorize a boost, and some cases other vessels traveling on Patrol business can be equipped with this as well. Patrol beams are also made available for responses to natural disasters and other emergencies.

Cover image: by Vertixico

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