Technology 103 - The CRM Systems

A starship's propulsions systems are complicated and rely on each other for the most part to actually move the ship. The workhorse of these systems is the Constrained Repulsor Manoeuver System.

Essentially the CRM System is a collection of repulsors distributed around the ship and tied to a powerful computer and the sensor systems. These CR beams are able to lock onto objects within the local area (anything up to around a billion kilometers for really big ships) and generate alternating attractor / repulsor energies which effect a centripetal energy exchange between the two. With this beam in effect the ship is able to impart motion and movement in several different planes.

CRMS commonly lock on to as many sources as they can reasonably do so as to minimise the amount the target ship is sympathetically affected. To assist in countering this effect on the ship itself, CRMS also detect incoming CRM beams and attempt to compensate by 'anchoring' themselves. This means, in effect, that a group of ships will be interconnected to a large degree by many more CRM beams than there are ships. In a pitched space battle this can get dangerous as the time needed to adjust to changes can become so small even the powerful navicom can fail. Ships have been lost due to unexpectedly hitting a strong CRM beam and consequently being propelled by it.

To mitigate these situations a number of conventions have evolved. These have been observed by every civilised species in the history of the Empire since they're invariably a safety precaution that applies to all. On entering battle most fleets will opt for a frequency band to denote friendly ships. These are often known well in advance, for example the Galactic Empire uses the range 1,000Gzc to 1,350Gzc and has secured this band solely for military use. On detecting enemy ships a scan will determine which frequency range the enemy are using and allow the fleets to mutually adapt their systems to avoid clashes. This includes fine tuning their systems if neccesary and establishing the weak 'blocker' field that tend to make enemy CRM beams 'slip off' friendly targets.

In addition smaller vessels have software that allows them to 'latch' onto larger vessels, and opt to use CRM beams on that target alone. Larger vessels need fear no buffeting from the smaller as they're too small to make noticable changes, and the fighters etc are able to use a very stable and predictable surface. Small ships attacking larger enemy ships tend to also lock onto that ship.

The CRMS is powered by the SIR and one of its main advantage is it only uses SIR energy, and hence doesn't expend the ship's fuel supplies. CRM emitters come in many shapes and sizes. Some of the more common are the planar emitters of many starfighters, perhaps the most well known being the six triangular emitters on each wing of the TIE fighter. Planar emitters can create a wide beam of repulsor energy and can therefore hop from target to target more quickly, increasing agility. Many couriers feature lobe type emitters capable of generating a narrower beam of greater strength and thus create a smoother transition. Capital ships tend to have several huge emitter units typically on the ventral surface. Larger ships tend to use CRM by directly 'tagging' a planet rather than other ships, which can force them to adopt a less agile behavior than they might otherwise be capable of performing.

One side effect of the prevalence of CRMS technology is that the centripetal energy link between two vessels imparts vibrations from one to the other, which in turn creates sound within the ships. In effect two ships linked by a CRM beam can hear each other.

To get your head around this, think about Spiderman, specifically the mechanism he uses where he swings from one web strand to another, and 'flies' on these strands between the buildings. The strands are like CRM beams, he 'locks' onto point A and swings along. Were he to be able to shorten and lengthen the strands as he went, he'd be able to move at a constant height and speed.

Now, imagine many spidermen, all doing the same thing. Whilst travelling, spiderman A sticks a strand onto spiderman B and is able to swing off A. Obviously, this would screw up spiderman A's own swing. To balance that out, each spiderman is using not one, but six to seven strands, so any effect of the others swinging off the individual is minimized. Each spiderman can also brush off the strands of another, but would tend not to as the more starnds connected, his own and any others, allows a greater control of his own movement AND provides data back about other spidermen. You may be able to see that as we increase the number of spidermen to say two dozen, and, for now, move the buildings further away, that these webslinging people can end up moving around connected only to other spidermen.

We can stretch the analogy a bit further and say that the buildings are themselves big ships, and they each have a single strand that connects them to the ground. A spiderman that gets close to a building may find it better to attach only to that building, as it offers good enough control on its own, and he can disregard all other strands as annoyances and concentrate.