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Common ship equipment

If you've seen any of my ship-related articles, you'll have seen the various types of equipment on display. In this article, I'll explain what they are and what they do.  


Most weapons are mounted on turrets on a ship. These turrets can be moved and shifted along the ship's hull to whatever location is necessary.

Mass drivers

Railguns are the most common starship weapon. They use two paralell rails to generate Lorentz force in order to accelerate a projectile to very high speeds. They are most often found mounted on starship sides, on turrets. A railgun has good damage and is easy to maintain and supply, and thus they are found nearly everywhere. The larger, spinal-mounted railguns, often nearly the entire ship's lenght, can destroy a large ship in a single shot at the reactor, smashing through even multi-layer Carbon-Interlaced Aluminium Alloy, into the reactor, which, if antimatter, would destroy a large part of the ship, if not everything.
Coilguns are similar to railguns, in that they use electromagnetism to propell a slug. They just use sequential coils that change current to either pull or push on a slug, which propells it forward. These weapons are most often found on an infantry-scale, and not often in bigger size. They do exist, but railguns are more common.  
This here is a standard issue Type-52 Wiln coilgun with a holographic sight, aim assist, a powerpack, and the magazine, filled with fifty rods of stainless steel, ready to tear through an unsuspecting target. Easy to maintain, cheap to make, and could be operated by a blind and deaf man, this baby is the spine of any military.
— Sergeant-Commander of the 361st infantry platoon Croe Shimm
  See Mass Drivers.  


Lasers are high-powered, concentrated beams of light, capable of heating up and cutting through armour. There are many varieties, all of which are often found on turrets. They vary in intensity, and the more intense, the more powerful and expensive. Often used in extremely long-range engagements, as the beams travel at light-speed. Most lasers are generally weaker than most other weapons, but make up for by travelling at light-speed, making deploying shields on time impossible unless somehow predicted.
Point defense lasers
Point-defense weapons are just that. They defend against slugs, missiles, and debris. Low-power, high-rate-of-fire lasers evaporate targets that get too close, within a couple hundred kilometers.  

Plasma Weapons

These weapons heat up matter, most often hydrogen, to extreme temperatures via nuclear fusion. The plasma is the shot out, and confined within an electromagnetic field. These weapons are generally very advanced, and take a fair effort to maintain, but their destructive power is massive.
Plasma cannons
Plasma cannons shoot plasma. They superheat gas, which is the shot via electromagnetic fields. The gas is often taken from the ship, unless in atmosphere. Coincidentally, most ships do not have plasma weapons for that reason. Plasma weapons are very powerful if hit, but the projectiles can be diverted via, say, another electromagnetic field.
Particle beams
Where plasma cannons shoot globs of plasma, particle beams shoot, well, beams. These high-temperature, high-power particles can rip through an unprepared ship and melt the interiors. Often used in very long-range engagements, not practical in-atmosphere. These weapons are very large, and often only mounted in big ships or orbital platforms, as spinal weapons. Also as planetary guns, albeit on ones without atmosphere.  
That's a planetary particle beam cannon. It can rip through a heavy cruiser and hit several other ships along the way. As long as that's operational, there's no chance we're getting off this moon.


Larger missiles, essentially ICBMs, are common among larger ships sizes. They are launched in swarms of several hundred at a time, and can guide, manouver, and dodge themselves. Often these are loaded with either antimatter or, in lower-tech areas, nuclear bombs. The main purpose is to survive and dodge the incoming fire with armour and speed.
Massive swarms of thousand of missiles are commonly used in ship-to-ship combat. Launched from smaller craft, these missiles are packed either with antimatter or chemical explosives. These seek to overwhelm point-defense and smash into a target as a sheet of damage.   See Missile Weapons.  

Armour systems


Hulls are composed of Carbon-Interlaced Aluminium Alloy, often layered in multiple layers with water or ice inbetween. The water serves are both an insulator, a buffer, and a storage for air and fusion/plasma fuel. The hull can often be several meters thick, and even tens at larger scales.


Shields on spaceships are made out of hardened plasma, a material that isn't actually plasma, but supercompressed gas kept together by a magnetic field. It's very tough, the toughest, and is generally used in layers, deployed right before impact.
See Hardened plasma, shields section.

Other defense measures

Distractions and disruptions

Most ships carry with them various methods of disrupting enemy attacks, missiles and whatnot else. The most common is electronic jamming, often used against missiles. Chaff-type jamming also exists, harming both lasers' focus and radar systems.


Ship heat up. They heat up a lot, especially in combat, especially if they're being shot at. Being in space, the heat can't dissipate very easily, and has to be radiated, which is slow, too slow. There is a solution, however. Heatsinks. Very heat-conductive objects, which collect ship heat, then are launched away from the ship.

Point defense

See point defense.  

Other systems

Functionality-related stuff. Comms, sensors, crew compartments.


Laser radars
Ships use lasers for long range scanning and analysis. Since lasers travel at the speed of light, they make an ideal radar-type system for long ranges. A general radar is a general radar. Pointed at a large area, it detects all kinds of objects and targets. The directed version is used to get specifics, emissions, shape, details.
Other sensors
Basic radars are also used occasionally, and a very long-range scanning method is sending probes. Many larger ships also have gravitational wave detectors, to detect even small vessels, especially if they're being sneaky or far away. Not that being sneaky is very easy. Most ships can also detect various wavelengths of radiation, like the neutrinos from antimatter engines or the thermal radiation emitted by ships.
The two main types of comms are radio and lasers. Radios are used in broad transmissions and general messages. They work in essetially the same way as modern radios, albeit more powerful. Lasers are used for private, long-range communications.
Big ships need big thrusters, and the most common thrusters are fusion thrusters. These work by essentially forcing the fusion products out of a nozzle, like a regular thruster. Nuclear fission was used for propulsion in low-tech enviroments, even until the 2590s, but as fusion became so accessible, they faded out. Chemical thrusters, however are still in use at times, mainly as initial thrust to leave a station or ship, as fusion and especially antimatter thrusters have a long tail, which could potentially damage a station or the like. The ultimate form of thrust available to humanity is antimatter. Antimatter thrusters can be risky, as the antimatter containers, if damaged, could potentially allow large amounts of antimatter to collide with matter, producing an apocalyptic explosion. In the past, these were used as the only methods to get from star to star, but with FTL travel, only the biggest ships need this.
Ablative ice
Back in the day, before faster-than-light travel was invented, ships had to travel at high speeds, near 70% of lightspeed. Because the interstellar medium becomes a lot more noticable at those speeds, and small debris can impact with the force of an asteroid, something had to be done. Thus, ship crews decided to stick a barrier between the ship and space. Then, what to make it out of? Well, there just so happens to be a molecule consisting of the two most common elements in the universe. One present in massive quantities in any given solar system. Water. Or rather, ice. Easy to gather, abundant, and can be used for oxygen and fusion fuel. This practice is not common anymore, as FTL became available. It does exist, as not everyone has FTL drives, but it is rare.

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