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Old 24-05-2008, 07:35 AM   #1
Bishop
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Default Eagles in space

A question for those who know. We see a lot of flying and fighting from craft in space in the many movies on our screens. How realistic is it all. Could one actually have the ST dog fights or the eagles swooping here and there and turning on dimes etc. Could the small ships actually maneuver that easily in the vacuum. I remember seeing the mini ships in 2001 having to be rather careful about it all, and we all know what happened to the army guy trying to repair the satellite in the TBs. You don't stop easily and it takes time to swerve... so any ideas?
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Old 24-05-2008, 09:40 AM   #2
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Ever played the game 'Asteroids"? That's a good two dimensional representation of how a real spacecraft would have to behave. The only innaccuracy with Asteroids is there's a slight residual drag which slows the spacecraft if you take your finger off the thrust button. There's no significant drag in space. The ship would keep moving in the same direction and at the same speed until you told it to do otherwise or it came within the influence of another external force like gravity. Star Wars is bunk when it depicts spacecraft 'flying' Battle of Britain style but it ignores this in favour of telling the story they want to tell.
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Old 24-05-2008, 09:43 AM   #3
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As I suspected... yes, I have played Asteroids, most frustrating.
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Old 24-05-2008, 09:44 AM   #4
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Yeah, "ASTEROIDS" came to my mind too. Forget about dogfights in space, the brutal accelerations and deccelarations involved wouldn't be bearable for human beings.
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Old 24-05-2008, 09:54 AM   #5
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Ironically an X wing could turn around and fly backwards to shoot a bad guy behind.
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Old 24-05-2008, 10:03 AM   #6
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Does one's head in really. So apart from 2001/2010 has there ever been a sci-fi/ space movie that's really captured it properly?
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Old 24-05-2008, 10:11 AM   #7
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The only SFX shots that come to mind are some of those in Babylon 5 with the small fighters often just rotating and firing at passing ships while still travelling on their original trajectories. Just because you turn in one direction doesn't mean that you would travel that way.
I do get tired of always seeing s/f spacecraft travelling perfectly forwards, like aircraft, when they could and should be seen to be at an angle and trying to correct their direction - more like helicopters.
The Ultraprobe in Dragons Domain does a tight turn when they decide to investigate the dead ships and that always bugged me as being too fake looking, the ship should turn and fire its engines for a while to counteract its forward velocity or have a much bigger turning circle.
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Old 24-05-2008, 10:35 AM   #8
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Anyway, a spacecraft like the Ultraprobe, with a perfectly defined trajectory, and meticulosly calculated orbital navigation, couldn't change trajectory drastically without missing its end target. It would need so much fuel to retake the original trajectory again.

Enough theory. Download the "ORBITER" simulator (it's free) and try if you dare. You even can fly an Eagle! You'll notice the astounding complexity of space navigation. It's difficult, but fascinating.

Last edited by akoenig; 24-05-2008 at 10:36 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 24-05-2008, 10:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
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The only SFX shots that come to mind are some of those in Babylon 5 with the small fighters often just rotating and firing at passing ships while still travelling on their original trajectories.
I was just going to say the same. I remember Ron Thornton's star fury fighter craft flying (fairly) realistically. And they were a very nice design too.
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Old 24-05-2008, 09:32 PM   #10
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I seem to recall that the SA-43 Hammerheads in Space: Above and Beyond also followed correct orbital paths
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Old 24-05-2008, 11:47 PM   #11
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Control! Must... control myself... Must avoid... criticising... Space: Above and Beyond... Argh... Control... I can do this! Yes!
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Old 24-05-2008, 11:58 PM   #12
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CR I thought you were trying to fly an Eagle in space....
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Old 25-05-2008, 10:47 AM   #13
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I'm not sure about the Cylon ships, but in the new BSG, the Vipers tend to use thrusters for flipping etc. Maybe they are using the thrusters in addition to the main drives for those graceful large-arcs in space.

I remember in a StarWars novel (yes, I read about 3 in my time) fantastic SciFi author Timothy Zhan talked of an "etheric rudder", but he did not expand on it. They must have had a lot of interesting technologies back then; pity they couldn't stop the Millennium Falcon from rusting!
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Old 25-05-2008, 10:47 AM   #14
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Oops - DP
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Old 03-06-2008, 12:09 AM   #15
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It is possible to see bending and twisting flight in a spacecraft like one is in an atmosphere. But the main engines have to be running the whole time and swiveling. Cut the thrust, then you can turn all you want but you won't alter your direction at all. Against a heavy gravitational body, that could be a bad thing (just ask Red Leader in SW when he crashed on the Death Star, or Alan Carter in every other episode of Space: 1999). The Hammerheads in Space Above and Beyond sort of utilized both methods of flight and even when they were turning and banking, you saw thruster puffs. The drawback to it is with constant thrust in space you have constant acelleration and nobody has gotten that down except for Babylon 5 with the Starfuries.

One advantage I might see for flying a spacecraft as if it were doing atmospheric flight is if you had a rookie pilot at the controls who knew how to fly atmosphere better then space. Thus flying one way might seem more intuitive then doing it another way until he gets the hang of more advanced manuevers. Altering a trajectory this way could also be beneficial in a craft with limited intertial dampers. So putting the breaks on suddenly might be bad, while doing a trajectory change like a turn over a period where the pilot is feeling a reduced number of gees at a constant rate would potentially make more sense. Plus, the craft could theoretically keep more of its velocity in such a trajectory change, as opposed to stopping in one direction, then going in a different one.

One compromise that might work would be whenever a turn is initiated, the engines power up to give just enough thrust to do the turn and get the trajectory right. Then when the craft is on its new course, they power down and go into coast mode again.
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:02 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark42 View Post
The only SFX shots that come to mind are some of those in Babylon 5 with the small fighters often just rotating and firing at passing ships while still travelling on their original trajectories. Just because you turn in one direction doesn't mean that you would travel that way.
I do get tired of always seeing s/f spacecraft travelling perfectly forwards, like aircraft, when they could and should be seen to be at an angle and trying to correct their direction - more like helicopters.
The Ultraprobe in Dragons Domain does a tight turn when they decide to investigate the dead ships and that always bugged me as being too fake looking, the ship should turn and fire its engines for a while to counteract its forward velocity or have a much bigger turning circle.
Interestingly, some years ago the reusable SPAS satellite got a movie of the shuttle doing maneuvers in space. It looked like a toy; or kind of like the animated shuttle on the view screen in Airplane 2 when the kid was spinning around in a losing video game. The quick moves it made were exactly the kind of thing the average film maker would avoid for "Realism"! A long way from 1999's aerodynamic moves!
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Old 03-06-2008, 10:30 AM   #17
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Quote:
Interestingly, some years ago the reusable SPAS satellite got a movie of the shuttle doing maneuvers in space. It looked like a toy; or kind of like the animated shuttle on the view screen in Airplane 2 when the kid was spinning around in a losing video game. The quick moves it made were exactly the kind of thing the average film maker would avoid for "Realism"! A long way from 1999's aerodynamic moves!
I think you'lll find that footage has been speeded up!

When the shuttle flips in front of the space station for photography, it takes roughly 3 minutes to complete 180 degrees.

Keith
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:38 AM   #18
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Maybe they are using Liquid Schwartz? Like, you can skid 180 in space with that stuff!
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Old 03-06-2008, 12:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Maybe they are using Liquid Schwartz? Like, you can skid 180 in space with that stuff!
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Old 04-06-2008, 09:06 AM   #20
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Oh I love that movie.... Ludicrous speed.... we break for no one
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