I know that colonial society was fairly advanced (as shown in Caprica). However, besides the advances in AI, it does not seem that their technology is that much more ahead of ours. Yet they have spaceships, many of them capable of travelling faster than light. They also seem to have technology like artificial gravity. Yet space travel, at least to us, is incredibly complex. How do the colonials have such good space travel capabilities?
The three things that make space travel easier for the inhabitants of Battlestar Galactica's universe are:
- Artificial gravity.
- Some massively power dense conventional engines.
The first two are thought to be impossible by mainstream physics. But supposing they are possible, it's not entirely impossible that once you learn the secret they are simple and cheap. Some whackier gravity concepts suggest it is just some higher order function of electromagnetism, such that with the correct device, passing current through it will create gravity (see this in alot of James P. Hogan's books, but those can border on whackadoodle).
A chance discovery isn't completely absurd here. Nothing fundamental would suggest that it should take 2000 years to go from Euclid to Newton. In other circumstances, we might have made that jump in just a century or two. So perhaps we are going through a similar period now with regards to AG/FTL. Maybe once you do discover the principle, it's dead easy.
The technology that is more difficult to believe are how easily their ships lift off, in my opinion. Even the Raptors must weigh what, 6-7 tons easy? We can put such in orbit, but only with a rocket's worth of fuel underneath it. These do so effortlessly, with self-contained fuel tanks and engines that don't turn the ground to white-hot magma underneath. Did you know that the Harrier jets can light the ground on fire during vertical take-off and landing if the pilot isn't careful how he does so?
That's some incredibly powerful "power density" going on. You can go read about that if you like, I'm not sure I understand the finer points of specific impulse and all that.
They seem to do so without visible propellant, they seem to do so without outrageous nuclear contaminant precautions (probably rules out fission engines of some sort).
All in all, I rate the first two technologies as "go ahead and suspend disbelief", but on this last one, I just don't see how it's remotely possible.
Relativity drive: The end of wings and wheels?
"...The device that has sparked their interest is an engine that generates thrust purely from electromagnetic radiation - microwaves to be precise - by exploiting the strange properties of relativity. It has no moving parts, and releases no exhaust or noxious emissions. Potentially, it could pack the punch of a rocket in a box the size of a suitcase. It could one day replace the engines on almost any spacecraft. More advanced versions might allow cars to lift from the ground and hover. It could even lead to aircraft that will not need wings at all. I can't help thinking that it sounds too good to be true."
[NASA's] Eagleworks Laboratories: Advanced Propulsion Physics Research
"...The difference arises in the fact that a [b]Q-thruster uses quantum vacuum fluctuations as the fuel source eliminating the need to carry propellant[/b]. This suggests much higher specific impulses are available for QVPT systems limited only by their power supply’s energy storage densities. Historical test results have yielded thrust levels of between 1000-4000 micro-Newtons, specific force performance of 0.1N/kW, and an equivalent specific impulse of ~1x1012 seconds. Figure 4 shows a test article and the thrust trace from a 500g load cell."
Findings on "Levitation in Earth's E-field" Technology
“The bottom line is that a sufficient charge accumulation on a capacitor, or any object for that matter, of sufficiently small mass, would be accelerated more by the earth’s electric field than by acceleration due to the earth’s gravity field. It would fly.”
The propellant used to lift ships off in BSG is tylium, a fuel similar to Helium-3 (perhaps the way the Colonials spell the word 'helium'.) It also seems to be what powers their entire civilization as well (fusion reactors work on Helium-3, or will work if we can get enough of it.)