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I remember from the movie that the crew was suspended in a liquid that fills their lungs to protect them from the high acceleration of the ship (I think 20 or 40 g were mentioned?)

This made me curious. Given that the problem with space drives normally is that the more effective ones give only poor acceleration, what did they use? I'm not sure, but I remember that the crew is only suspended at the start and the end of the journey. So acceleration is only at the start and the end.

Does this make any sense? Wouldn't it be much more effective to use fewer "engines" and a decent acceleration throughout the whole journey (with face changing in the middle)? The journey time wouldn't even be much longer — or even shorter, because fewer engine means more space for fuel which means higher end velocity, which will break even higher acceleration and lower end velocity soon.

Out of universe I think they need a reason why the crew was not able to question Dr Weir during the voyage. (But that would as easily be done by hibernation because of food resources, boredom, etc.).

But is there in-universe information about the propulsion technique they use and why they use such high acceleration?

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The original script indicates that the massive drives at the rear are 'ionic'

THE ION ENGINE at the aft of the ship begins to glow a deep red.

The high acceleration (and requirement for anti-gee mechanisms) appears to be a result of the oversized engines seeming to only have two settings; off and on, with 'off' providing zero acceleration and 'on' providing over 30 gees of acceleration.

The Lewis and Clark races SILENTLY past. The engine at its aft holds a sustained fusion reaction like the sun.

There's no indication that the engines can be used in a lower setting mode, to provide sustained acceleration.

  • That means they couldn't build the drive smaller (seems plausible) and it cannot be throttled below a minimum (probably to be able to sustain the fusion reaction). Normaly you would put a huge ship in front of it to get a good price/performance ratio (and decent accelerations). But for a rescue ship, it makes no sense to build it the size of an oil tanker. Ok. I could buy it. – Hothie Jan 30 '17 at 12:59
  • @Hothie - It's a ship of exploration, one that might need to return to Earth orbit in realspace if their gravity engines break down. A sustained 30 gee acceleration would allow them to get up to lightspeed (or as near as dammit) within a few weeks of travel. – Valorum Jan 30 '17 at 13:11
  • @Hothie - I was in an electric golf-cart a few weeks back. It only had two settings, on and off. It also had a small brake, allowing you to make fine adjustments to stopping distances. – Valorum Jan 30 '17 at 13:13

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