Blakes7 In Character – Space Flight

In this special episode, Ian and Eric discuss the concept of space travel in the Blakes 7 universe.

Check out more from Eric on the world of movie and television special effects in the NEOZAZ series Effectively Speaking!

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Blakes 7 In Character

The show that takes an in-depth look at the classic BBC Series “Blakes7” on character at a time!

One thought on “Blakes7 In Character – Space Flight”

  1. I have copious notes on B7 speed and distance. Se below:
    The speed of the liberator
    So how fast were we whizzing between planets and star systems? I will leave aside the practical issues of the massive distances between stars in real life (although we will get pretty close) and just stick with context from the show. The terminology for the Liberator was Standard by.. that I will shorten to StdX followed by the appropiate number. The Federation ships used the Time Distort terminology I will refer to as TD followed by the appropriate number.
    The first we hear of Liberator speed is in Cygnus Alpha where between Jenna, Blake and Zen we first hear of standard speed. We are not told how fast this is and the issues of time and distance in this episode (we are told in TWB that it takes 8 months to get to Cygnus Alpha but this isn’t what happens either for the Liberator or the London) I am inclined to draw no conclusions.
    I will start by using the limited info we have to speculate on what Std and TD might be then support my assumptions/estimates by looking at examples from many episodes.
    There are two key episodes:
    1. In Mission to destiny we know that the journey for the sub-light Ortega would be about 5 months. But the Liberator could do it in four days. waving hands a little – if we think the ortega could do the trip in 4 months at light speed then the Liberator is about 30 times faster at a quoted StdX6. If StdX6=30 times light speed then StdX1=5 times light speed. Assuming a linear scale then StdX2=10 times lightspeed, StdX3=15 times.. and so on…
    2. In Duel Travis and the mutoid tell us their approach speed is TD6. Jenna says that StdX2 would enable Liberator to make a run for it, therefore StdX2>TD6. If TD = lightspeed (which has a nice symmetry to it) then StdX2=10 times light speed which is greater than six times light speed. So far the assumptions hold together.
    3. There is more confirmation in Horizon where the Liberator is at StdX2 to follow/track the freighter at TD6.

    StdX6 appears quite a bit as velocity that allows Liberator to escape:
    In Duel StdX4 does not allow escape from Fed ships, but Stdx6 allows escape. This implies Fed ships have a max speed between 20 and 30 times light speed TD20-30.
    In S-L-D interceptors can be evaded at StdX6. Implying the same Fed tech. max. speed of TD30.
    In Deliverance is is again implied that StdX6 means the Liberator sill get away.
    In Harvest of Kairos StdX6 allows escape.
    In Moloch StdX6 again allows escape.

    How fast can the Liberator go? Most evidence points to StdX12 or 120 times the speed of light:
    In Trial StdX12 is used to “get us out of here”
    In Redemption StdX12 is OK but StdX14 pursuit cannot be outrun by the Liberator.
    In Breakdown at StdX12 the Liberator can no longer prevent distortion effects – implying this is the maximum speed – i.e., the limit of control.
    In Harvest of Kairos Zen sees the sopron enhanced vessel as capable of StdX12.203. In the episode it is said that the sopron reflects something just a little more powerful than what is viewing it back to the viewer. This again supports the maximum Liberator speed of StdX12 that is just a little less than StdX12.203
    In Yawn of the Gods StdX10 is the limit for correcting course. If we assume that this is close to the maximum speed, then a maximum speed of StdX12 is reasonable.
    In Star One they increase the speed of the Liberator from their Federation evasion maximum of StdX6 to StdX12 when rushing to Star One – implies StdX12 is as fast as they can go – and its maybe safer/easier to do so in intergalactic space where there is less to hit (?).
    In The Keeper, when trying to get back on station as fast as possible they do so at StdX12.
    In Hostage StdX10 and StdX12 are used to evade plasma bolts. If we think they could evade them easier at higher speeds, but do not do so, then the max speed is StdX12. Also, at the end when in a rush to escape they use StdX12.

    Some intermediate speeds:
    In Killer StdX10 is used to get away and spread plague warning.

    Inconsistencies and other notes:
    In Breakdown Blake says at StdX20 they will be out of control. This is contradicted later in the episode when we find that StdX12 is the actual control limit. Did Blake made a mistake or misspeak?
    In Stardrive Vila says its not possible to beat StdX12 “In real time”. But this could just be his interpretation of having been in the fastest ship anyone knows of and it could only control the time distortion effects up to stdX12 as shown in Breakdown. Also, in HoK the sporon claims a speed greater than StdX12 and no-one says this is “impossible”.
    In Terminal they travel at StdX8 for almost 97 hours. This implies a distance of 7760 light hours, or nearly one light year. This is the right order of magnitude for interstellar distances. Our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 light years away. Though not definitive, this lends more support to the StdX scale. It also implies travel times in days/weeks/months for most interstellar travel – which fits in with much of the rest of the series – where the crew complain about how long they need to be on alert and the boredom of travel.
    In Moloch they travel at StdX3 for 27 days – thats more than a light year…. could be realistic for interstellar travel?
    In Moloch the time shift discussion implies that if they travel in real time they are subject to relativistic effects and that Zen can only correct for this up to a maximum of 159 years. I like this concept that the key to FTL travel is to correct for timeshift so that at near to or supra-light speeds you don’t miss out on tens or hundreds of years of activity for non-travelers. A nice trick.

    In summary:
    std speed is multiples of 5 times light speed
    Time distort is just light speed
    The fed ships cant beat StdX6 or 30 times light speed.
    Max Liberator speed is SdtX12 or 60 times light speed – but it is possible to go faster (the system ships do it)
    Liberator speeds are reasonable for the distances they travel in the time available (with a little hand waving).

    Distance in B7
    Miles tend to get used on the ground and spacials in space. That’s Terry “space” Nation for you!
    In stardrive we get a hint about “spatials”. They are at StdX1 and close on the asteriod at about 10,000 (units of distance) in about 10 seconds. This implies that 5 times light speed (see my other notes in Liberator speed) is about 1000 Units/sec in real time. In one second at 5 times the speed of light (300E06 m/s) we travel 1500E06 m. Therefore one “unit” is 1.5E06m or 1500km or *gasp* about 1000 miles. Miles are used several times in B7 so its possible miles are a standard unit and that a spatial is 1000 miles.

    How does this look when we find uses of spacials:
    Smallest unit is 50 “surface” spacials that is used in Harvest as surface area to be obliterated. I am inclined to say this is miles.

    Next is the asteroid in Voice FTP at 0.102 spacials or about 100 miles which is right on for a big asteroid.

    100’s of spacials are used when getting close in space for detailed observation (and in several battles) : Mission to destiny the Ortega, Time squad projectile, Horizon. Who knows if this is reasonable??? Its half way to the moon from earth.

    For planet orbit its either 1000 (Time Squad, Cygnus Alpha, Duel, Ultraworld) or 2000 (Redemption, Moloch). This would be about 1E06 miles. This seems like a long way out. Geosynchronus orbit for earth is about 22,000 miles or only 22 spacials. the moon is at about 200-250 spacials. So the standard orbit is well outside moon trajectories.

    In Harvest stellar orbit is 8 million spacials or 8000 million miles. 1 AU (astronomical unit – distance from earth to sun) is roughly 100 million miles. So this orbit is 80 AU. That’s far out beyond the planets, more than double the distance from Neptune to the sun. It would be a good distance for a system orbit. Maybe this is just terminology here stellar – stellar system?

    In Dawn of the Gods the jamming range is 10 million spacials – this is double the size of a solar system – so a pretty fair distance. How fast could jamming range be crossed at StdX6 (typical Liberator speed)? StdX6 is 30 X speed of light = 1E10m/s. 1E07 spacials = 1E10 miles = 1.6E10km = 1.6E13m. This implies about 1.6E3 seconds to cross jamming range or about half an hour – sounds reasonable.

    Interstellar distances are on the order of ten thousand million spacials.

    As someone famous once said: “Space is big.”

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