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The quantum torpedo
is the first Starfleet follow-on weapon to replace the standard photon torpedo
first developed in 2268. During upgrade testing of the Mark-IX warhead, it
was determined that the theoretical maximum explosive yield of 25 isotons
had finally been reached for a matter-antimatter reaction. Existing and future
threat force conflicts drove the development of a new defensive stand-off
weapon that could be deployed on specially equipped starships, starbases,
and planetary-surface fortifications. Advances in rapid energy extraction
from the space-time domain known as the zero-point vacuum eventually led the
Starfleet R&D facility on Groombridge 273-2A to test a prototype continuum-twist
device with a calculated potential of 52.3 isotons.
As in the history
of laser-induced fusion, zero-point energy generation began with a negative
energy balance, requiring a greater input of high-temperature EPS plasma to
initiate the reaction than what was actually produced by the zero-point field
device. The basic mechanism, first operated experimentally in 2336, involved
the formation of an eleven-dimensional space-time membrane. A cousin of the
superstring, the membrane was twisted into a string with a topology of Genus
1 and pinched off from the background vacuum, calling into existence a new
particle. The process of creating large numbers of new subatomic particles
liberated correspondingly large amounts of energy. Calculations quickly showed
that a relatively small volume of ultraclean vacuum carried aboard a torpedo
warhead could place a highly explosive energy release on the target. A similar,
albeit larger, event created most of the mass of the universe in the big bang.
The pinch does not, as some researches initially believed, occur at the same
interface between this universe and the big bang's remnant domain, though
such a continuum pinch may lead to even greater energy releases.
The testing of
the prototype zero-point warhead occurred on Groombridge 273-2A, an uninhabited
gas-giant moon, in 2355, following six years of theoretical research and experimental
hardware development. Various types of EM emitters were successful at producing
energy bursts, and one was chosen for a detonation test 285 kilometers beneath
the surface. Security measures had already been heightened for the entire
program when tensions spiked dramatically one hour before the test. One researcher
produced a computer simulation that indicated a possible rapid and total annihilation
of the moon at the moment of detonation. Unfortunately, one calculation variable
dealing with hypothetical runaway vacuum pinching had not been deleted, and
another last-minute simulation predicted a detonation confined to a nine-hundred-meter
diameter sphere. The test was successful, the Groombridge site was abandoned
and restored to its original state, and Starfleet defensive weapon facilities
continued with fabrication.
The quantum torpedo
consists of a pressure-molded shell of densified tritanium and duranium foam,
trapezoidal in cross section and tapered at the forward end for atmospheric
applications. A 7-millimeter layer of plasma-bonded terminium ceramic forms
an ablative armor skin for the foam hull, over which is bonded a 0.12-millimeter
coating of silicon-copper-yttrium rigid polymer as an antiradiation coating.
Beyond the necessary cuts and welds for propulsion and warhead hardware installation,
minimal penetrations are made by phaser cutters, so that the hull may be rendered
as near to EM-silent as is technologically possible. All seals around extended
components are treated with a suspension of forced-matrix ferrenimide, which
establishes a minute amount of duonetic field activity, effectively blocking
EM leakage. All active and passive sensor pulses are channeled through machined
cavities in the inner hull at approximately twenty-six-centimeter intervals
in all three axes.
The heart of
the current system is the zero-point field reaction chamber, a teardrop-shaped
enclosure fabricated from a single crystal of directionally strengthened rodinium-ditellenite.
The chamber measures 0.76 meters in diameter by 1.38 meters in length and
2.3 centimeters in average thickness. The assembly is penetrated by a single
opening in the tapered end, cut by a nanometer phaser in an inert atmosphere
of argon and neon. Two jacketing layers, one of synthetic neutronium and another
of dilithium, control the upper and lower extremes of the energy-field contours.
Attached to the taper opening is a zero-point initiator consisting of an EM
rectifier, waveguide bundle, subspace field amplifier, and continuum distortion
emitter. The emitter creates the actual pinch field from a conical spike 10^
-16 meters across at the tip.
The zero-point initiator is powered by the detonation of an uprated photon torpedo warhead with a yield of 21.8 isotons, achieved through increased matter-antimatter surface area contact and introduction of fluoronetic vapor. The M/A reaction occurs at four times the rate of a standard warhead. The detonation energy is channeled through the initiator within 10^ -7 seconds and energizes the emitter, which imparts a tension force upon the vacuum domain. As the vacuum membrane expands, over a period of 0,0001 seconds, an energy potential equivalent to at least fifty isotons is created. This energy is held by the chamber for 10^ -8 seconds and is then released by the controlled failure of the chamber wall.
the quantum torpedo is handled by four microfusion thrusters working in concert
with standard warp field sustainer coils. Propellant supply valves, cross-feeds
to the photon detonator, and M/A tankage are housed in the aft compartment.
Guidance, navigation, and fusing of the torpedo is controlled by the onboard
computer and sensor array. The main processor for the computer is a bio-neural
gel cylinder surrounded by a low-level inboard warp field for FTL computations
and a low-level outboard thoron web to block threat force countermeasure radiation.
A total of fifty-three
safety interlocks are distributed across all systems. Since the zero-point
vacuum initiator contains numerous rare alloys and elements and cannot be
replicated, fabrication has proven a long and painstaking process, requiring
the enforcement of stricter safety protocol levels for the program and forcing
difficult allocation decisions for available torpedo inventories. While the
torpedo structure remains robust during manufacture, transit, storage, and
ultimately launching, special handling and loading precautions must be taken
to insure warhead survival. Nominal procedures includes antigravs, telerobotic
servicing, and use of protective buffer fields.
Launch and maneuvering
at impulse velocities up to 0.9993c may be accomplished with onboard M/A reactant
consumption of no more than 23 percent; launch at warp will decrease reactant
use to 15 percent due to the launcher hand-off warp field. If the torpedo
is moving at warp and its target drops to impulse, the torpedo will not make
a commensurate drop to impulse, since it cannot reestablish its warp sustainer
field. In this case it would detonate on impact or at closest approach, using
data from the proximity sensors and three-axis relative velocity algorithms.
If the torpedo and the target are both at high impulse, and the target ramps
to warp, the torpedo will still have sufficient velocity to reach an effective