Bussard Ram Jet, Starship Wanderer

To give you something new to look at... I realized this evening I haven't done any new drawings on Starship Wanderer, its on my Traveller site.

So here is a cut away view of the Bussard Ram Jet engines used in it. 17 miles long by 2 miles across. I may put some color areas in to show general locations of living quarters, machine shops, etc. But I don't think they would show up easily at this scale.

So, here ya go. This png is at half-size. I'm giving you all first look, not on my site yet.


  • Well, it certainly all looks very impressive... but please can you briefly label the parts of the engine, even if you don't keep the labels? I don't know what any of the parts are to be able to say anything specific about them, other than just referring to the green bits, or the circular thingummies... which isn't very respectful of your drawing :)
  • MonsenMonsen 🖼️ 43 images Mapmaker Administrator
    Living quarters inside the engine, doesn't sound like the most prestigious place to live ;) I'm guessing it is mostly for the engineering crew?
  • edited September 2016
    Yes they live in there, well, it is 2 miles across. As to what to call them, a Bussard pulls in hydrogen gas, compresses it, and then fires lasers into it. The resulting plasma gas is ejected out the back of the engine for thrust.
  • edited September 2016
    Added some labels. I hadn't actually thought this bit out last night so here it is.

    Green rectangles are work shops and berthing compartments. Those would be sleeping, eating, etc. compartments. The two reddish rectangles with yellow borders are work areas only. Radiation suits required due to the lasers firing at the compressed hydrogen gas.
  • Ah! Thank you Jim :)

    Now I can say that it all makes perfect sense, and that I love the shade of green in the Firing compartment :)
  • Really Cool JimP!! :-)
  • I love seeing your ships JimP. Your symbol choice is perfect for this!

    I'm not familiar with the Traveller rules. Is this just the engine or is it a ship in itself? What is the fuel on the intake?
  • edited September 2016
    This is just the engine. The intake is hydrogen atoms.

    The Bussard was a common faster than light ship for several years in science fiction. But substationally smaller.

    It has a huge cone made of magnetic fields out in front that is used to gather the atoms together. Then they are compressed in the engine. The lasers turns them into plasma and they are fired out the back.

    Nothing to do with Traveller. That game has huge ships, but smaller than this one. I thought of this ship years before rpgs had been printed. It was in the early 1970s. I didn't hear of Traveller until 1980. Maybe 1981.

    edit: I've decided to go with a more block diagram approach than lots of detail for the entire ship. I just moved this ship from its own sub-domain over to the travellergame sub-domain to make for fewer sub-domains... hasn't stopped me from making more sub-domains though.
  • Very cool! Thanks for the explanation JimP. I haven't played much in SciFi games but my oldest son is pushing us that direction so I'm trying to get a feel for mapping ships and planets and such. :)
  • Project Rho is a fantastic resource. Scroll down to the bottom and look over the links there. Space ships, starships, solar systems, space suits, etc. writing believable orbits, planets, etc.
  • That site is awesome! Thanks JimP!
  • You're welcome. I think Remy should add it to the resources sticky.
  • MonsenMonsen 🖼️ 43 images Mapmaker Administrator
  • @JimP, is this a multi-generational starship?


  • Yes, as Bussards aren't known for FTL speeds. They get close to the Tau Zero limits. JUst below the speed of light, so time dilation does happen. Jump ships in Traveller are much quicker. A light year per Jump. I think its two weeks in Jump. There are Jump -1, -2, -4, and -6 starships. Which means a large empire, it would take a year for an X-boat messenger to cross 1,000 light years. Thats if I remember correctly. So, border wars could be over before Capital of an empire found out it had started.

    I decided for my site, and future game purposes, that Wanderer could travel about one quarter or one third as fast as a Jump ship. I may tweek that as I have time to sit down and work on it.

    One problem though, the local interstellar medium, like around Earth's solar system, there isn't enough hydrogen cloud to sustain a Bussard. but our gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn, could be skimmed for Jump fuel.
  • edited October 2016
    You're forgetting the solar wind, my friend. That's a lot of charged plasma coming off of the sun!


  • I have read the solar wind doesn't work for solar sails. Which means the catch phrase I came up with when I was a kid doesn't work, 'Bring her into the solar wind pilot !'. Referring to a sailing ship that goes between planets I dreamed up.

    While I'm not a Bussard expert, from what I have read it needs hydrogen atoms to be above a certain density, and the solar wind wont work for that. I'm not a physicist, so I have no idea on details.
  • Got done. Now to rest my eyes a bit.
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