My theory on the history of FTL travel in the elite Universe or why quirium was just a brand name

Hi all

Just some food for thought, as whilst we have received a Galnet new article on the history of hyperdrives here which was a recap of a summary I recall reading on Drew Wagars blog but cannot find now but Canonn has a backup

however reading it I have some disagreements with Sima Kalhana's history

Primarily that of Quirium

Quirium is the fuel that Galactic Cooperative provided, allowed for quick jumps, and the formula for its production was a closely guarded secret and that was eventually lost causing a regression in jump tech and travel times.

I have a problem with this as the Elite Manual for the Cobra MkIII says the fuel tank holds enough Quirium H-4 fuel for 7 light years.

This Quirium H-4 fuel was purchasable from all Galactic Cooperative stations

This same ship can be fitted with a fuel scoop, and the Quirium H-4 fuel tanks can be refuelled by a fuel scooping from stars.
Fuel scooped from stars results in the same performance as station bought fuel.

Thus I find it an impossibility that Quirium H-4 was a special fuel produced from a secret formula produced by the Galactic Cooperative and that it could be lost if any ship with a fuel scoop could obtain more and it was ubiquitously sold in every station

what event could cause the loss of such a fuel formula from every star port and remove every fuel scoop from existence.

Instead I posit that Quirium H-4 was just a brand name for Star ship grade Hydrogen fuel we still use, and that the "fast travel" we see in Elite was just a gameplay conceit and in lore the use of either time compression ala the Star Dreamer or the player simply didnt need to play out the travel time.

Again I point to the Cobra Mk.III manual which states it had all sorts of amenities for long duration travel, cabins, galleys and the Fer-De-lance was noted as having luxury accommodation for long journeys and stalking of prey.

Elite Manual said:
THE LIVING AND HYGIENE SECTION is below the main bridge, and reached through a descending gravity well. Two bunks, food dispensing facilities, waste disposal (including high-tox copper exudate for Aonians), SynPleasure relaxapads, and videos.

THE EQUIPMENT LEVEL runs throughout the ship, and houses all energy banks for lasers, plus the missile rests, with dispatch shafts to the lower hull. The communications center is here, and the escape pod (with a separate entrance from the bridge) life support systems, cryogen tanks (two) and 40 cubic meters of FacsEnvironment for emergency use.
Equipment you would not fit a ship with the quick travel capability see in the Elite game

I believe we have the following progressions of hyper-drive tech.

The Faraway Drive which was the first hyperdrive:
This allowed a Ship to transition from real space to witch-space.
As stated The Faraway system was far from perfect, however, depending on a complex network of monitoring satellites, branch lines, stop points and rescue stations – which took hundreds of years to establish – to operate smoothly

There was still a travel time in witch-space as one travelled the lanes, then exited.

This drive used by ships in the Elite Era, as since the jumps were limited to 7 light years, not due to the drive but as this was what the beacons and jump lanes between inhabited systems allowed with the infrastructure on them.

At no point does one travel to uninhabited system off the lanes and beacons, which would have been the dangerous job of explorers going off beacon, or a certain Cmdr J Jameson taken a Cobra.MkIII to a Thargoid hiveship going beyond the 7 light year limit

And the Drives used Hydrogen Fuel, which like in FE2 FFE and ED, can be purchased at star ports and scooped from certain starts and bodies.

The Skip drive is just another earlier version of the star dreamer as you skip the travel time.

Between stars the Ship uses the Faraway jump, into Witch space, follows the lanes and beacons and the skip-drive makes it seem like an instant.
In system, the ship uses standard sublights the skip-drive makes it seem like an instant, or a few minutes.

But the actual travel took days and weeks, thus explaining why the ships, even the Corba Mk.III put in Service in 3100, when the Quirum drive was long had crew full long term habitation amenities

the Frontier Elite 2 Era 3200

The breakthrough of the 2b drive of the Frontier:Elite 2 Era was three fold
  1. It was smaller so ships like the Sidewinder, previously a parasite, could fit a Hyperdrive.
  2. The Jump ranges were longer since they didn't need to stay to the lanes where had beacons at most 7 light years apart
  3. Probably not a drive improvement but navigation, ships could travel in Witchspace off the lanes and beacons, so could visit systems without human settlements

Between stars the Ship uses the 2b drive to jumps into witch space and travel to the destination, under its own navigation, and the star dreamer make this appear as seconds, when the journey took up to a week at max range for that given ship.
With in system travel Ship uses the sub-light drives, and the star dreamer make this appear as seconds when in reality hours days and weeks pass.

The Fuel was Hydrogen, and scoop-able from Stars (and gas Giants), just like the Elite Era technology

During the FE2 and FFE Eras, there were also Military drives.
They used a non scoop-able military fuel, that generated ratio-actives as a waste by-product, but this was produced by Sirius Corp and still us (see Galaxy Map)

Aside from being smaller and thus allowing a greater jump range if you put a high class drive in the same sized ship they again followed the same general mechanism

Between stars the Ship uses the Military 2b drive to jumps into witch space and travel to the destination, under its own navigation, and the star dreamer make this appear as seconds, when the journey took up to a week at max range for that given ship.
With in system travel Ship uses the sub-light drives, and the star dreamer make this appear as seconds and minutes when in reality hours days and weeks pass.

the ED era from 3290

The frame shift Drive alters the paradigm, but allowing in system travel at multiples of c, removing the need for the star dreamer.
I assert the reason why current ships can jump between systems is less than a minute is they still enter hyperspace as per the 2b drive and Faraway drive, but can then use the FSD in witch space, to quickly travel there.

But these drives are again fuelled by Hydrogen scoop-able from stars.

all the Human drive techs thus
  1. Use Hydrogen fuel to power them, which is common enough to be scooped from stars and Gas Giants (with the exception of Military drives which used an engineered molecule with anti matter atoms suspended in it that just allows for a smaller drive to push a bigger mass)
  2. Allow the ship to enter witch space

Advanced in Human Technology resulted in
  1. Smaller drives so smaller ships could jump to witch space
  2. Self Navigation of ships in witchcraft, from Mass Gravity shadow to Mass Gravity shadow, ending the reliance on lanes and beacons.
  3. Faster methods of travelling in real space, FSD that then could be used in witch space as well.
But still all using the same hydrogen fuel, no need for a special fuel to be developed and a secret formula to be lost.

Ships in Elite were designed for long duration operations as journeys though witch space then real space would take weeks or months for far binary systems, so thus explaining why in the ED era of the FSD such ships can go for weeks and months between docking at Star ports on deep space exploration expeditions.

And I would also see ED Era ships still fitted with star dreamers, Silastoplaston seats and beds, and capable of non supercruise cross system journeys at sub light using Hohmann transfer orbits and brachistochrone orbits either, with either 1 g burns over long duration for easy living onboard ship or max burns up to 20 g for the Cobra Mk.III as an example , for the fastest brachistochrone transfers in system, just as they did in FE2 and FFE and Elite according to my theory
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