In my universe, I want Stealth in Space to be a thing, along with Space Fighters. I’m quite happy with the majority being autonomous, but I still want the occasional human for drama.

Whilst I have had this world in mind for a while, I will also mention that my reasoning below has been shaped by the linked questions.

Specifically, I’m hoping that Worldbuilding.SE’s fresh eyes will be able to highlight any flaws in my scenario before I start building too much on top of it. Here goes:


Warships are equipped with a gravity drive, which allows FTL based on locking onto nearby gravity wells. Thus they can be used to hop around a solar system using planet gravity wells as targets, then focus on nearby stars for long distance travel. There’s a formula for how much energy/power up time it takes depending on target, which can be simplified ”larger target equals easier, further target equals harder”. An Interplanetary jump takes minutes of charging, interstellar jumps will take hours to charge up.

Actual travel time is also based on this formula, but with hours of travel within a system and days or weeks between systems. There’s also a feature where distance to a gravity well affects maximum speed and acceleration when jumping to explain why the same drive can go so much faster between systems than within it.

Fighters, drones and expensive missiles also have gravity drives, but they do not have the power requirements to make interstellar jumps. Naturally, everything also includes sublight manoeuvring propulsion.


All space vessels have sufficient heat management to allow “silent running” and maintain a cold exterior, however in order to avoid cooking themselves heat is radiated via a set of narrow, gimballed exhaust ports. These will be pointed in whatever direction the crew thinks will be least likely to contain enemy sensors. FTL generates a lot of heat, so rapid use will cause a ship to overheat unless it breaks stealth. The same will occur with shields and high-burn with manoeuvring thrusters.

Interplanetary/Interstellar travel is difficult to detect, due to the sheer speed involved.


Ships are equipped with the sci-fi standard of mass drivers, energy weapons, missiles, fighter, drones and point defence. Shields require special mention. The effectiveness of deflecting a shot is based on momentum so massive, fast slugs and missiles will take significantly more energy to deflect than massless energy weapons. This higher energy cost will deplete the shield capacitors more quickly. Once the capacitor is drained the shields will collapse.


Drones are piloted by sophisticated narrow intelligence AI but they have not yet reached sentience with regards to decision making due to the sheer number of edge cases that would have to be considered during programming. Thus fighter squadrons will typically be led by a human-controlled pilot, allowing simplified programming in the drones as those edge cases can just default to “ask my human handler for direction”.


On arrival, a warship will “Go Cold” and deploy large numbers of intelligence drones across the system, scanning for badly pointed heat exhausts or "asteroids" of suspicious shape that suddenly change course. Fighter squadrons led by human commanders will also be dispatched to confirm sightings, destroy enemy drones and be another thing for hostile warships to think about. If fighter squadrons clash, then tactics mainly involve identifying and eliminating the enemy human commander, before mopping up his orphaned drones.

Once an enemy warship has been positively identified, allied warships will either jump to combat range and “Go Hot” with large amounts of fire, or snipe from stealth. Fighters will have some capacity to deal damage to warships, but generally have to be outfitted with “space torpedoes” or other capital killer weapons and high drone casualties are expected.

Warfare will thus consist of intelligence gathering, misdirection and sudden strikes, with the occasional long range brawl when someone goes hot and everyone chooses to pile in.

So to reiterate, can anyone see any glaring issues in how these technologies work from a scientific point of view, any issues with how combat will take place or anything else that I may have missed and need to address before declaring this phase of my worldbuilding "done"?

  • $\begingroup$ The top voted and accepted answer to one of the questions you have linked clearly explains that stealth is impossible in space. I'm unsure how your question differs from that one. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ I want to weigh in on this cool stuff. But I am not sure what the question is. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ "There’s also a feature where distance to a gravity well affects maximum speed and acceleration when jumping to explain why the same drive can go so much faster between systems than within it." While within a system, simply target another system in the direction that you wish to travel in-system. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


If your people possess gravity drives, would it be safe to assume they also have gravitic sensors? Meaning wouldn't they have the ability to detect changes in gravity resulting in the detection of a stealthed ship's mass alone, regardless of heat or radio signature?

Also, would it not make more sense for the drone control pilot to actually be housed within the fighter carrier or base? I compare this to real, modern drone pilots who are actually in some sort of command station while the drone is active thousands of miles away. Why would you risk the life of the actual pilot and distract him with maintaining his own craft simultaneously, when he could function from the safety of a carrier ship?

Just a few thoughts of my own.

  • $\begingroup$ How would you remotely control a vehicle travelling faster than light? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ Well how would you have controlled the rest of the drones in the first place? If regardless of controlled from a fighter or a base/ship the method of communication has to be the same. There are pros and cons of both on that front. A base or carrier might have further signal range than a fighter, but the fighters could travel independently. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ Technically, our current understanding of physics says its impossible to communicate faster than light anyway. The speed of light is actually called the universal constant, which means it is the absolute maximum speed of everything. Credible FTL travel theories involve essentially bending the laws of the universe. There are a few theories on FTL communication involving Tachyon waves or quantum entanglement, but those are quantum physics concepts that many believe dont even really exist, and would still take outrageous energy requirements if they do. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 19:17

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