Gravity Maneuvering describes a family of techniques used throughout the setting with a variety of different names which involve using space itself both to provide motion and to also alter direction through space. It relies on the fact that space, like any medium, always tries to return to its lowest energy state - or “ground state” where it is neither squeezed nor stretched unless forced to do so by an outside force.
It should be noted there is still a need to calculate trajectories and orbits rather than straight paths for the purpose of efficiency. While not strictly necessary, taking an orbital trajectory and working with the shape of space reduces sensor observability and total energy expenditure for a better overall efficiency. As a result, planned journeys (via navigational software or manual planning) are generally faster than those which are unplanned (which usually involve combat maneuvering).
As a result, an experienced starfighter-pilot benefits from either being a skilled navigator themselves or a co-pilot who also se
At the simplest level, all gravity maneuvering involves some kind of interaction between mass and gravity that is unnatural, created using the same technologies that become hyperspace/subspace propulsion systems or distortion fields which change the shape of space to create a pressure wave which does something useful. This is similar to the way the wing of an aircraft works - with air beneath a wing moving faster than air above which creates negative pressure wave above the wing “sucking” the plane up into the air.
Instead of air in this case, the fluid-medium is spacetime itself and instead of a wing, a space-modifying antennae is used which typically relies upon electrogravitational interaction (which uses an electrical field to alter the effect of an object's mass on gravity using higg's boson).
This antennae, depending on its configuration can be made to do a wide variety of different things.
This technology is often in some way linked to faster-than-light travel equipment either in the components used or its design.
A common style of propulsion, gravity-well creates a “fall vector” that a craft sinks into, just like how a dropped object falls toward the ground. This object tends to either accelerate slowly or experience spaghettification - the mechanical stretching of its parts by spacetime. This is often paired with conventional booster technologies which add acceleration, with the gravity well providing a high top speed.
A common characteristic of a gravity well is other objects fall into the well of the craft, such as sparks, debris or dust. It is usually the cheapest and easiest gravity technology and is the most common form of “anti-gravity” - a slang-term for equipment which uses electrogravitational equipment to allow a craft to maneuver, land and take-off vertically.
It is common amongst civilian vessels.
Working similarly to the compression and expansion of a jet engine, a gravity engine creates a bubble or pocket which isolates inertia or movement forces from the craft inside. This pocket is then nested inside another pocket and the resulting vacuum between the two creates a compression which warps space to create thrust: compressed up front and expanded rearward.
The effectiveness of a gravity engine improves dramatically the further it is away from an object of mass and faster-than-light speeds are usually only achievable outside of the reach of a large stellar object such as a star.
A common characteristic of a gravity engine is limited or no expression of inertia upon the craft inside and for light passing through the pocket to be lensed with the lensing property linked to acceleration rather than velocity - objects with change direction frequently being the most visible.
It is usually considered a military technology, though may also be found on law-enforcement equipment.
Working like the elevators and rudders of a craft, a gravity wing increases or decreases the friction of spacetime against an object using similar techniques to FTL drives - though the friction differs across a craft. This becomes an expression of torque, making the craft turn without expelling propellant. Importantly, a gravity wing can allow a craft to turn at FTL speeds by steering the 'compression bubble' the craft is stationary inside of. In this way, no inertia is expressed upon the craft itself.
In maneuvering, craft bleed speed as their friction with space grows in order to express their rotation. This means when turning, the craft decelerates. Large gravitational bodies will also affect the “landscape” of this maneuvering and how effective it is. Combined with forward falling and gravitational falloff (the drop in effectiveness of some propulsion systems when near objects of high mass like planets that reduce their ability to move at very high velocities) this creates handling that could be compared to atmospheric aerial dogfighting.
Gravity wings require physical extrusions or pylons away from the main body of the craft to apply force and are often built into conventional wing structures on fighter-craft that are expected to operate as starfighters.
The structures of gravity wings often double as shield generators.
It is considered a military technology.