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Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine (HICE)
In the latter part of the 21st century, in an effort to stem global emissions and combat global warming, mankind said farewell to the faithful internal combustion engine (ICE). Production and sale of new vehicles that would use gasoline / diesel-powered engines were prohibited. Soon after many countries even passed bans on these vehicles entirely, forcing owners to trade in for an electric vehicle (EV). The only exception being professional racing done on closed circuits. Gone were the days of roaring down the road, propelled by small explosions as electric engines took the throne, leaving us all with a gentle whir instead.
Fast forward to the future and the development of accelerated space travel in the year 2215. Mankind can now harvest hydrogen directly from near-limitless sources in our solar system, removing a very expensive and energy-intensive step in the production of hydrogen fuel. Along with the meteoric rise of hydrogen energy corporations, mankind also welcomes the return of an old friend, who's cleaned up their bad habits.
Enter the Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine, which now powers an estimated 75% of current land-based vehicles. With only slight modifications to existing ICE designs, the HICE can produce 15% more theoretical maximum power than an identical engine running on gasoline, with the only byproduct being oxygen. Floating cities and colonies welcome these little oxygen makers while the common car enthusiast rejoices at the return of barking exhaust pipes, rumbling engines, mechanical gearboxes, and the sound of forced induction.
Gravity Manipulation Engine (GME)
As the population of Earth continued on its steady incline, living space too came more and more at a premium. Along with this, motorways in major metropolitan areas worldwide were subject to impossible traffic jams as the ability to expand existing roads, or build new ones became hindered by the dire need for residential space. It was these problems among others that brought the brightest minds in physics and propulsion together to develop the first compact, mass-producible Gravity Manipulation Engine (GME) in the year 2120. Less than two decades pass and the flying cars that previously existed as a fantasy in science fiction now soared through our very real skies with all the ease and grace of a bird. Though at the time, this very expensive technology was reserved only for wealthy private citizens, corporations, and militaries.
Typically powered by Free-Standing Electrode (FSE) batteries, a GME works by creating a small gravity field in its general area, causing a push / pull effect on nearby objects. Want something to rise up? Create a gravity field above that pulls it up. The same principle applies if you want something to move forward, backward, or side to side. The heavier the object, the stronger the gravity field needs to be. This is primarily why the use of these types of engines was abandoned for very large craft. The size of the gravity fields required to manipulate these objects was too large and could not be utilized safely.
Due to further advancements in GMEs, and related technologies to produce them, these engines have become much more commonplace, scalable, and affordable. Today the average citizen enjoys GME tech even in basic every-day devices such as aeroboards. It is estimated that 60% of transport today is done with a GME.
Fusion Propulsion Drive (FPD)
The invention of the compact fusion reactor (CFR) in 2258 is considered by most not only to be humanities crowning achievement in energy production but also the birth of practical interplanetary travel. Before this, even with the most efficient propulsion systems, the amount of fuel that needed to be carried to achieve steady 1g acceleration (9.80665 m/s2) for over 24 hours, was simply not something that could be worked into the design of the space-faring craft. Because of this, spacecraft were limited to using chemical rockets that operated with brief impulsive thrusts. As a result travel between planets in our solar system was a long journey. The CFR changed all of this. No longer were large facilities needed to provide nuclear fusion power, and this led to the creation of the Fusion Propulsion Drive (FPD).
Fueled by deuterium and helium-3, the smallest FPD is about the size of your average 4-door car. Storage space required for the fuel is minimal and these smaller FPDs are most commonly seen on civilian transport craft that shuttle people between planetary colonies in our solar system. For much larger craft such as freighters and capital ships, the FPD can be easily scaled up, or multiple drives can be fitted to a single craft.
Because of their ability to sustain 1g acceleration, FPDs cut the average travel time to Mars from 162 days, down to just under 48 hours and a trip to Luna from Earth, just over 3 hours. Further advancements in design and engineering, as well as the clever integration of gravity manipulation engines, has allowed spacecraft to push up to 1.3g's of constant acceleration while keeping passengers and crew comfortable, meaning today we enjoy trips to the red planet in 4 hours, with trips to Luna demanding a mere 60 minutes.