The Sabre goes into orbit through the use of a seven-stage rocket whose technology seems similar to standard tech existing today, while other crafts or vehicles such as the Pillar of Autumn or Pelican, for example, employ much more advanced propulsion technologies.

Why is that?

Is it solely for the sake of dramatization of the Sabre launch video sequence?

1 Answer 1


It seems unclear that the Sabre does not have the same 26th century propulsion technology, just that its thrusters may only be designed for travel outside Earth's atmosphere, so there need not be a discrepancy.

Your situations seem to describe the difference between igniting engines in space versus in atmosphere, in which case different propulsion technologies would be employed to deal with the prevalence or absence of oxygen. Note how even the Pillar of Autumn is supported by multiple rockets during its escape of Reach.

Since you are referencing the Sabre found in Halo: Reach, a prequel to the original Halo: Combat Evolved, it is also possible that humanity has reverse engineered some covenant technology or has undergone some upgrades due to Cortana's arrival on the Pillar of Autumn. It had already received two upgrades by the time of Master Chief's arrival, placing the Autumn with state-of-the-art technology and a new fusion reactor. This is also a time where many Sabres were being destroyed in the defense of the inner colonies.

If you are instead wondering why older technology looks shinier, well this is a question for George Lucas.

  • I agree with your points generally, however, though the launch of the Pillar of Autumn is assisted by additionnal rockets, they look quite small in comparison to the relative weight of the ship, when compared to the Sabre's launch system.
    – julien_c
    Mar 23, 2011 at 8:13
  • 1
    Yes, but dynamite does come in small packages. The rockets only had to lift the Autumn enough so that her engines didn't scar the earth and her belly didn't become damaged since the Autumn is not capable of a vertical take-off. Mar 23, 2011 at 14:16
  • 7
    Then what about Pelicans? They clearly have the tech to make small craft that can go between atmosphere and space.
    – user1027
    Mar 23, 2011 at 15:49
  • 3
    I would point out that based on the timeline here, the launch of the Sabre predates the launch of the Autumn by only 16 days - hardly enough for the vast leap in technologies
    – The Fallen
    Nov 26, 2012 at 20:01
  • the sabres were experimental ships from a shutdown programme. the launch equipment may have simply been bodged together in a hurry
    – IG_42
    Aug 9, 2014 at 0:15

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