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|First appearance||Battlestar Galactica|
|Auxiliary craft||Colonial Raptors|
Ship to ship missiles
A battlestar is a battleship/carrier hybrid starship in the reimagined science fiction television series Battlestar Galactica. The reimagined series' battlestars and the series' other visual effects were designed and created by Zoic Studios for Battlestar Galactica.
The battlestars Galactica, Atlantia, Triton, Solaria and Columbia were named in the miniseries; battlestars Pegasus and Valkyrie were seen during the subsequent television series. Twelve battlestars were built at the start of the first Cylon War, one for each of the Twelve Colonies; Galactica represented the colony of Caprica. The fleet had grown by the time of the miniseries, as over thirty were confirmed to be destroyed during the opening wave of the Cylon attack, a loss which Kara Thrace describes as "a quarter of the fleet".
- 1 Design
- 2 Defense
- 3 Armament
- 4 Crew
- 5 Combat performance
- 6 BSG reimagined Timeline
- 7 List of battlestars
- 8 References
- 9 External links
A Colonial battlestar is an immense capital ship (estimates and analysis of TV pictures is roughly 7,200–8,600 ft for Galactica) and is constructed as a series of discrete modules. Based on schematics Galactica has a 7:1 (L:W) ratio overall (minus the flight pods). The main midsection is 3.5:1 (L:W), the bow section 1.6:1 (L:W), and the engines 3.5:1 (L:W). The wedge-shaped fore section contains the CIC, among other facilities. The aft section contains both conventional (sublight) and FTL propulsion systems. The midsection is where the battlestar's flight pods are mounted, with large support pylons connecting them to the rest of the ship. There are internal transit corridors large enough to move Vipers (and presumably Raptors) from one flight pod to the other. Thus large-scale flight operations are possible even if one flight pod is crippled or otherwise unusable: the battlestar Galactica is able on numerous occasions to hold off massive Cylon attacks, and even to conduct several offensive operations, with her entire starboard flight pod converted to a museum.
Battlestars are seen to possess two or four flight pods, depending on the class. Galactica-type battlestars' flight pods retract during an FTL jump, though the same is not true of the Mercury-class. The flight pods serve as landing bays for smaller spacecraft such as Vipers and Raptors. Each flight pod appears somewhat as a large, rounded triangular tube, with a flat deck running inside the length of the pod, completely open to space at the ends. This deck serves as a landing pad for Vipers, Raptors, and small civilian ships such as Colonial One. After touching down, Vipers and Raptors move to one of several (Ford class carries have 10 elevators so it seems logical Galactica would have at least 10 or a dozen elevators as well) side elevator lifts and descend to an enclosed, pressurized lower hangar bay, where they are maintained.
The exact layout and size of Glactica's flight pods is unknown, but is clear from analysis of pictures they have a 1:6 (width:length) ratio. From the information given on the series we know that a launch tube is 150 feet in length. Flight pods (at least the starboard) also contains large water tanks to store fresh water for the ship.
The dimensions of the external landing bay are shown as very expansive. Vipers are shown making combat landings and sliding or skipping a considerable distance with no automated arresting device to stop them. From what is seen on the TV series Colonial One can dock on one of Glactica's flight pods with relative ease. It appears Colonial One is small to midsize ship about 500–600 feet or so in length (as seen in the pilot she has a large cargo hangar that can hold a Viper and still has considerable room left over, and we are told in the pilot (E1, p1) can hold close to 150 people) and 70–80 feet in width. This would mean Galactica's flight decks are at least 200-feet, probably closer to 250–300 feet or so in width, roughly the same a Gerald Ford class aircraft carrier.
The internal hangar bay is shown as expansive as well close to 60–80 yards (160–250 feet) in width and at least 1,000 feet or so in length. Viper launch tubes are also located on this main hangar deck level. However, on the follow up series Blood & Chrome Adama's Viper is shown being loaded into a launch tube by an automated elevator from the overhead. So we might conclude that Glactica has several rows of launch tubes situated below and above each other, or that the Viper is being lifted from a lower auxiliary deck to the main internal flight deck. We are told by the Cylon Cavell that a launch tube is 150 feet in length. Each tube has a large, reinforced airlock at the hangar end, while the other end is open to space. Once a Viper is mounted on the airlock's launch catapult, an airtight blast door closes behind the Viper and the space door opens, clearing the Viper to launch. The Mercury-class battlestars, such as Pegasus, have "doubled" flight pods, with landing decks on both the dorsal and ventral sides. In contrast to other classes, the Mercury-class's flight pods have a second landing deck running the length of each pod that is situated "upside down" relative to the ship and its two "rightside up" landing decks. Vipers on approach to these secondary decks roll 180 degrees ("on their backs") prior to landing. It is unclear whether there are two hangar and maintenance decks per flight pod as well, or whether ships landing on the second deck must be flipped over into the gravity field of a single pressurized hangar bay.
As originally constructed, Galactica's hangars contained overhead storage bays for its Vipers. These bays were eventually removed sometime before the close of the First Cylon War.
Based on this evidence we can assume a flight pod is at least 500–600 feet in overall width, and 3,000–3,600 feet or so in length. Furthermore, it is very likely that there are multiple decks below what is seen as the main hangar deck in the series. As with a modern aircraft carrier, numerous decks below the main hangar are necessary to accommodate munitions, fuel, machine shops, repair, storage, ECT. These are connected by large elevators which are used to transfer items between decks and to the main deck.
It is possible for Galactica to jump without retracting her pods; however, heavy damage occurs the one time the ship is seen to jump this way, implying that doing so places severe strain on its hull structure. This may explain why Galactica always retracts them before a jump is initiated, though the heavy damage to Galactica following her final jump may also be due to the advanced deterioration and decay of her structure and armor after more than forty years of service, four years of continual heavy combat, a desperate atmospheric reentry, and no access to an orbital shipyard, asides from the possible structural stress of such a jump.
Galactica was shown to possess six sub light engine pods (though in the miniseries, only four were visibly active; the others were presumably backups) while Pegasus had eight. Battlestars are highly maneuverable and were capable of docking with space stations, such as the Ragnar Anchorage.
From the TV series we are told that that at the time of the Cylon attack on the Colonies Galactica is within several hours of Caprica in the Helios Alpha system (S1, e1), and it will take more than an hour to get from Galactica's current position to the main battle near Virgon in the Helios Beta system (Based on BSG map and scale by consultant Kevin Grazier). And 3 days to the Ragnar anchorage (the Ragnar anchorage is in orbit above the gas giant Ragnar which orbits Helios Gamma and Delta. Ragnar is approximately 138,000 km in diameter. For comparison the largest planet in our system is Jupiter at 69,911 km / 43,441 miles in diameter – 1,120% the size of Earth. Ragnar then is twice the size of Jupiter.) in the Helios Gamma system at full speed (S1, e1, p2). For comparison the end of our solar system is about 122 astronomical units (AU) from the sun to Pluto. Grazier further indicates 1-Stellar unit, the Colonial equivalent of our astronomical unit (AU) is approximately 150,000,000 kilometers (the distance from the Sun to Earth).
Colonel Tye says it will take 3 days at best speed for Galactica to reach the Ragnar anchorage (S1, E1, P1). Assuming Galactica’s best relativistic speed is 90-99% of light means that Ragnar can’t be more than 520AU (0.00822 LY) away. Any faster than 173AU per day violates E=MC2. Further, as stated in the pilot if Galactica is to reach Virgon in roughly an hour at best relativistic speed than Virgon can’t be more than 7.2AU from Galactica’s current position (roughly the distance from the Sun to Jupiter).
Though this may seem unrealistically fast as Galactica would be able to travel from our sun to Jupiter within one hour, the Cylon Anders states that the Colonials can travel at relativistic subluminal speeds at 90-99% the speed of light. Vipers are shown traversing an entire star system in search of Kera Therace after she is forced to abandon her Viper after a battle with Cylon Raiders.
Another indicator of speeds and distance as seen in the BSGverse is that during and after the Cylon attack Galactica and other ships are in radio communication with each other as are the various planets without signifgant delay. Adama asks if they are with voice range of Colonial One to speak with Apollo. This means they can’t be more than roughly 186,000 miles apart. Radio waves travel at the speed of light – 3 x 108 m/s. We know that Galactica is able to communicate with Apollo and Colonial One as well as Caprica and other vessels in the area. Colonial One is with a few hours of Caprica as then by necessity is Galactica. This would seem to suggest that the Galactica and Colonial One are within at least 500,000 miles of Caprica otherwise there would a signifgant time delay in communications. At 500,000 miles there would be a 3 second delay for a radio signal to reach a ship. Sense Laura Roslin appears to talk in real time to cabinet members, as does Adama to Apollo in real time, they must be relative close proximity of a few hundred thousand miles.
If we accept this and Colonial One is 1-2 hours from Caprica as stated in pilot then it has to travel at least 500,000mph-250,000mph (804,671kph-402,336kph; 138-69 miles/sec), or 0.07419% the speed of light. However, given that Colonial ships are said to be capable of traveing at relativistic speeds, any speeds slower than 99% light are an absolute possibility. Another very real reason for traveling at significantly less than relativistic speeds are numerous. One of the most signifgant is fuel expenditure. The closer a vessel approaches light speed the greater it's mass increases as dictated by E=mc2 and thus directly related so does it's fuel expenditure. In the original 1978 series Commander Cane in "Living Legend" tells Adama that it will take roughly half his fuel to get the Pegasus to light speed. And second and most pratical, it would be simply insane to travel any faster than half a percent the speed of light in a star system full of asteroids, comets, junk, satellites, other ships, ETC. Objects as small as micro-meteors would be lethal at even fractions of a fraction of relativistic speeds. The time to detect and evade an object in such relative close proximity at near light speeds is literally none existent. And an FTL jump from inside a star system is just as insane for the same reasons. This is highlighted in the pilot part 1 when Colonel Tye says to Commander Adama "You don't want to do this." Adama replies, "I know". Tye responds, "Because no sane man would.", Adama replies, "No choice. Colonel Tye begin preparations for a hyper-light jump." Referring to Adama's decision to execute a FTL jump from inside the Helios alpha system to the Ragnar munitions anchorage orbiting the Helios Delta system. A truly last ditch effort that could very likely end in disaster.
We are also told Galactica's FTL jump from Ragnar to the Prolmar sector some 30LY is the furthest ever attempted by a Colonial vessel and well beyond Galactica's redline (ability to accurately plot an FTL jump. The Red Line - the theoretical sphere whose radius denotes the maximum possible safe distance for which an FTL jump may be plotted. The main idea to take away is that Galactica obtains inputs for jump calculations from what it can see with telescopes and other imagining systems in its local neighborhood. Light travels at a finite speed – 3 x 108 m/s. Therefore, the information Galactica receives is increasingly inaccurate the further away it is from its intended destination. Some of that can be corrected for with numerical models, stellar drift etc., but there will always be an increasing error factor with distance. There are other factors involved too, such as tylium expenditure, calculation time, etc. It has always been implied, though perhaps not directly stated, that FTL coordinates are heavily biased by mass, in such a way that it is not only possible to end up inside a star given a random set of calculations, it is likely to happen. This is probably based on the idea that large stellar bodies bend space-time as theorized by Einstein.) so it must be assumed the Prolmar system is largely empty space and Adama is confident that the decreased accuracy of the FTL navigational computers won't be an issue. Furthermore, Graizer indicates Kobol is 2,000LY from the center of the Cyrannus complex star system of the Twelve Colonies.
We also know from the series that a Cylon raider piloted by Starbuck made an FTL jump back to Caprica from presumably a location near Kobol. And that a group of Colonial Raptors returned to Caprica to retrieve members of the resistance in 10 FTL jumps with the help of captured Cylon FTL computers. Furthermore, the Cylons were roughly 5-light years away when they detected the radiation from a nuclear blast around New Caprica.
The top sub light speed of a Viper is also unknown. But since it is stated Colonial technology is capable of relativistic subluminal speeds, and Vipers are not FTL capable, and are shown circumnavigating a star system in hours, it can be assumed their top subluminal speed is also relativistic at 99% that of light, or 170AU/day.
Battlestars are generally covered in smooth armor plating called a bomb-deck or decapping plate; Pegasus is a clear example of this, being a newer Mercury-class battlestar. Throughout the series, Galactica is shown with large portions of her decapping plate removed, exposing the splinter deck and main armor bulkhead as well as structural ribbing underneath; this is likely due to either cost cutting strategies or damage to said decapping plate that was never replaced/repaired during the First Cylon War, as Galactica is shown in the miniseries Blood and Chrome early on in the First Cylon War with a nearly-full decapping armor, yet in the feature film Razor she is depicted as she is shown in the main series, with much of her armor removed. The miniseries shows Galactica withstanding a direct nuclear detonation with little apparent damage to its command structure and fighter bays.
Many have suggested that Galactica’s armor has been removed since the ship is shown with exposed ribbing. This is misconception and general lack of knowledge about armor design. Armor schemes are numerous but usually entail an armor bulkhead composed of numerous types of armor fastened together into a single thick bulkhead. Most large capital ships are armored against their own main batteries. In this theory, not knowing the destructive potential of an advisories weapons, armoring against one's own heaviest weapons in a good strategy, sense any ship larger than said ship it would like run from or evade rather directly engage. It is more likely what is seen is that Galactica’s decapping plate has been removed exposing the splinter deck and her main armor bulkhead beneath. A splinter deck serves several functions. It protects the crew and enteral areas of the ship from shrapnel and other fragments. It also serves as a void space to absorb shock and heat to ensure that heat and shock are not transferred, or less effectively transferred, into the enteral spaces of the ship.
One of the main characteristics of a battlestar, as seen on many episodes, is its ability to absorb tremendous damage while withstanding a prolonged attack and survive. To accomplish this all the ships essential and systems needed to keep the ship combat effective such as magazines, engineering spaces, steering, plotting rooms, command & control, weapons, etc. are protected by heavy armour. In the original 1978 TV series it is said Galactica's hull in 3–4 meters (9.8–13.1 feet) thick. For comparison the armor bulkhead of an Iowa class battleship is 30.7-40 centimeters (12.1-17.3 inches/1-1.5 feet) in thickness. The armour box, referred to as the citadel, is situated inside the ship and encases all the ships vital and essential functions. Critical systems located outside the citadel are encased in a ‘mini’ citadel as armoured extensions of the main citadel. The Citadel its self is highly subcompartmentalized by armour bulkheads, most notable, besides the hull armour and the actual armour bulkheads that makeup the citadel itself, are the eternal armour bulkheads. This ensures that if it is breached the breach can be contained and the rest of the citadel not compromised. Of these the most crucial are centerline bulkhead which divide the citadel into starboard and port sections, and the transverse centreline bulkhead which divides the citadel into bow and stern sections. These provide the stability that ensures the citadel does not collapse in on its self that that projectiles, should they penetrate the main armour bulkhead and the armoured walls of citadel itself, do not continue any further and comprise the rest of the citadel. In theory only half of the citadel needs to remain intact for the ship to remain operational. As both starboard and port sides are contain essentially identical equipment for the sake of redundancy.
An amour bulkhead generally consists of three parts, the bomb deck (decapping plate), the splinter deck, and the main armour deck/plate. The decapping plate is designed to detonate incoming ordnance on contact and cause it to break apart. The main armour deck is usually some form of material that is very efficient in its ability to dissipate heat. It is also generally highly compressed (dense) in the neighborhood of 50-80% and face hardened to ensure it not only stops the projectile, but absorbs the enormous amount of energy form the impact/blast. The main belt is usually corrugated, and or inclined, as this does not allow for an object to collide directly with it at an ideal 90 degrees, but rather deflects it and causes it to begin to tumble and break apart. If the armors work together as intended, the projectile will explode or break apart between the bomb/splinter deck and the main armour deck. The splinter deck is designed to contain any fragments and pieces of armour which might be broken off from the projectile or ship itself. Behind all this is usually some kind of dilatant shock absorbing material (dynamic sheer stiffing fluid) that will absorb and dissipate the shock. Newer armors like Chobham armour, ETC are shape-memory dynamic reactive armors. Usually a ballistic textile like Kevlar impregnated with ceramics containing nanoparticle substances like depleted uranium, titanium, ETC., in numerous layers. It is very likely Galactica has a very advanced composite type armor as well.
This is likely why Galactica is seen on the reimagined series and 1978 series as absorbing so much damage and appears relatively unaffected.
In season 1; episode 1; part 1 Galactica sustains a (high altitude nuclear explosion) following a SatTacNuke (Saturation Tactical Nuclear) strike. Galactica survives the detonation with what appears to be relatively minor damage. The reason for this is that nuclear weapons produce 90% of their destructive power in the form of heat and blast do to x-ray heating of the surrounding atmosphere. In space without an atmosphere to conduct heat no blast can be produced. A nuclear weapons effectiveness is then reduced by a factor of 90 in space. For example, a 100 kT detonation would be reduced to a 10kT blast in space. The resulting 10% being in the form of radiation. The exception to this would be of course if the warhead was able to penetrate, or was placed, within the hull into the internal space where atmosphere was present to conduct heat and blast. However, in space the effects of radiation are greatly enhanced as there is no appreciable atmosphere to attenuate the radiation. the radiation belt produced by HA NukeDet is very large and lasts for hours if not weeks as compared to a atmospheric NukeDet. The radiation generated is mostly in form of immediate gamma and x-ray radiation and would likely be immediately lethal to any organism that was not properly shielded from it. A battlestar or other spacecraft could deal with the increased effects of radiation by using powerful electromagnetic shielding and hull plating designed to absorb high energy particles. The newer Mercury class battlestar Pegasus was also attacked with nuclear weapons and withstood at least three nuclear hits during a Cylon ambush; not only did Pegasus remain operational, she inflicted heavy damage to a Cylon Basestar with her forward heavy batteries.
In the published data that was available the following kinetic energy guns and velocities were established to fit the published data from
This data is based on the 1978 TV series for the amount of energy required to vaporize iron
- Viper guns (see: 30mm), output 25 gigajoules per volley
- Secondary batteries (see: 12.7 cm gun), output 1.2 terajoules (1 megaton) per volley.
- main batteries (see: see 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 gun 40 cm gun; possibly similar to the main batteries of a battlestar), output 53,858 terajoules (12.8 megatons) per volley.
- Mega-pulsar (see: Schwerer Gustav 81 cm gun. Possibly heavy bow cannons as seen on BSG Pegasus and likely Galactica), output 100,000 terajoules (25 megatons) per volley.
Main batteries Battlestars rely almost exclusively on their main batteries to engage enemy capital ships. From what is published and seen in the BSG series and the numerous spin offs a single turret is outfitted with two rifles (not "guns") that fire independently or in tandem. The rifles, most likely railguns, are housed in a very similar fashion to a battleship's main batteries. The rifles are housed in a large armored turret that extends below deck. Sense the batteries house "rifles" and not "guns" ("rifle" denotes that they can be elevated, targeted, and fired independent of each other as seen in the series, whereas, "gunned" denotes they are dependent and slaved to each other) they possess the ability to operate independently of each other, and engage independent targets in so long as the targets lay along the long axis (X-axis) of the turret. In other words they can fire at two separate targets 180-degrees apart as they can in theory fire "over the shoulder".
They fire at least two types of ordnance: a anti-aircraft type munition where they fire explosive flak rounds, and an anti ship ordnance kinetic penetrator , which demonstrated a high effectiveness against Cylon Basestars. Mercury-class battlestars like Pegasus also mount 8 heavy cannons inside the bow sections; combined with other turrets, that gives an extremely powerful frontal attack. Battlestars most likely use kinetic energy penetrators (KEP), Compact Kinetic Energy Missile (CKEM), or other type of relativistic kill vehicle (RKV) instead of actual chemical explosives in their heavy ordnance penetrators (HOP) and Massive Ordnance Penetrators (MOP), and RUMOP (Robust Ultra Massive Ordnance Penetrator) (similar to Schwerer Gustav 81cm gun, as seen on Pegasus and possibly Galactica, bow mounted heavy batteries).
From what is seen on the TV series the batteries appear to fire at a rate of one round per rifle every 3–4 seconds, or 15-20 rounds per minute per rifle (30-40 per minute per battery). Galactica's heavy batteries are mounted in superfire layout on her dorsal and ventral sides. The idea of superfire layout is to position the batteries either elevated (one below and one above like in battleships), or so that one battery can elevate or otherwise fire over the top (superior) of the other battery. The advantage of superfire layout is it allows the ship to bring all its heavy batteries to bear on a target or targets within the same sector and greatly enhances its overall firepower and effectiveness. This is in contrast to the Mercury class whos guns are shown distributed along the long axis of the ship. This configuration is effective for perimeter defense but not ship-to-ship engagement. Thus a ship with its batteries arranged in superfire position, even though it may not have as many batteries, has substantially more firepower than a ship that does not.
This advantage can be demonstrated by OFD (Offensive Fire Distribution), the number of total batteries that can be brought to bear on a target. Galactica because her dorsal and ventral guns are in superfire position can bring 100% of her heavy batteries to bear. Whereas for example a Mercury class is at a significant disadvantage because her batteries are obstructed by the others to either side. Furthermore, a Mercury class battlestar is an extreme disadvantage if the target is above or below them as their OFD appears to be less than 50% as they have no dorsal or ventral batteries. With just what is seen on the TV series Galactica is fitted with eight 2-rifled batteries for 16 heavy guns in all on her dorsal and ventral sides. Simple math shows that Galactica could fire a full barrage (usually determined by one minute of continuous firing) at 15-20 rounds/minute/rifle of between 240-320 heavy rounds per minute.
In the series Blood & Chrome Galactica is seen fitted with 20 dorsal heavy batteries (40 rifles) and numerous smaller secondary batteries on her dorsal and presumably ventral sides. With 40 heavy batteries firing 15-20 rounds/min/rifle is 600-800 heavy rounds per minute.
Secondary batteries Secondary batteries are just as important as main batteries. Typically, these guns are half the size of the main batteries but equal in range. These guns are generally multipurpose guns, being used for ship-to-ship, anti aircraft, and general bombardment. In the series Blood & Chrome Galactica is shown fitted with 68 (34 port, 34 starboard) secondary batteries for a total of 136 rifles (assuming they are 2-rifled batteries) on her dorsal side to compliment her main batteries. Because of their smaller caliber they can fire at a faster rate than their larger counterparts. For example, an Iowa class battleship's main 16-inch batteries fire at 2-6 rounds per minute per rifle or 18-54 rounds/minute. Whereas the smaller 5-inch secondary batteries fire at 15-20 per minute/rifle (5 2-rifled batteries per side), or 150-200 5-inch rounds per minute, a difference of 2.5-5 times. The same can be assumed for the Galactica. If her main batteries fire 15-20 rounds/minute/rifle, then it can be assumed her secondary batteries fire 40-80 rounds/min/rifle. Again simple math suggests that a full one minute barrage of the secondary batteries can fire between 5,540-10,880 rounds per minute from the dorsal side alone.
Point-Defence Weapons Systems (PDWS)
Point-Defence (note spelling) is the defense of a single object or a limited area, e.g. a ship, building or an airfield, now usually against air attacks and guided missiles. Point-defense weapons have a smaller range in contrast to area-defence systems and are placed near or on the object to be protected.
Basic Point-defense missile system
- The BPDMS remains an important part of a layered defense system, providing a short/medium-range component especially useful against fast highly maneuverable Smart missiles and small fighter craft attacking on the horizontal plane. The TV series makes it clear that many ships and most likely the Galactica, have BPDMS, probably very similar to the US Navy's RIM-7 Sea Sparrow. The vertical launcher BPDMS allows the missile to be "lofted" above the target and then dive down onto the target in a "dive bombing" fashion as it approaches; this gives the missile greater range and a better radar cross section against targets approaching along the horizontal plane. This means that the missile can also be directly guided against low-profile attacking along the horizontal plane that would otherwise not show up well on radar (which is a function of relative speed and cross section), allowing the ship's more powerful search radars to provide guidance allowing the missile to approach the target from the overhead while the ships sensors track the target and feed the information directly to the missile. This also gives the BPDMS a very useful secondary anti-shipping role that allows it to attack smaller ships such as gunboats.
Close in Weapons System (CIWS): Another important “gun” system is CIWS [Close in Weapons System]. CIWS is intended to defend against missile attack, but can also be used to provide close tactical fire support. There are two types of CIWS. The first is ECRWS [Extremely Close Range Weapons System], and the second is what is commonly known as CIWS.
ECRWS (in use with the US Navy) is The Phalanx CIWS block-1 & 2. There’s no reason to think that the ships of BSG would not also use a similar system. The system employs a 20mm [.80cal] KEP to destroy incoming targets. The blk-1 version uses a single M61-A Vulcan cannon firing up to 6,000rds/min. The blk-2 uses two cannons. In the blk-2 version the cannons are synchronized to fire alternately thus staggering the rounds to ensure the rounds don’t collide in flight. Both the blk-1 & 2 have two independent tracking systems. One of these radars is dedicated to tracking the flight path of the projectiles, while the other tracks the incoming target. The information is fed into a computer and the computer makes corrections in targeting to ensure the projectiles and incoming target are always coinciding. In theory, the system can never miss.
The projectile is a 20mm KEP depleted-uranium self destructing sabot [currently used by the US Navy]. The KEP has an explosive charge in it which explodes after a predetermined amount of time [after tracer burn out] in order to reduce collateral damage. It also has the advantage of creating a large debris field that other incoming targets have to pass through. The primary function of these guns were in an anti fighter/missile role, such as destroying incoming ordnance or Cylon Raiders. Battlestars carry hundreds of them.
Another CIWS is the 40mm or 57mm Orion (see Bofors 40 mm gun & Bofors 57 mm gun). This is system of 10 [1.60cal-2.20cal] cannon in two blocks (2x5) stacked atop each other. The tracking system is the same as the 20mm Phalanx. The rate of fire is a bit slower beginning at 400rds/gun [4,000rds/min total for 10 guns], but the number of cannon makes up for it. Rate of fire increases up to 800rds/min/gun [8,000rds/min total] as the target approaches. The projectile is a High-explosive fragmentation self-destruct. It has the obvious advantage of being larger than the 20mm, and therefore heavier which means more firepower, and is more effective against manned vehicles.
Stand-off Missile system
Standoff missiles are missiles, glide bombs, or long-range projectiles which may be launched at a distance sufficient to allow attacking personnel to evade defensive fire from the target area. Typically, they are used in an offensive operation. The name is derived from their ability to engage the target while standing off outside the range at which the defenders are likely to engage the attacker. Typical stand-off weapons include cruise missiles, glide bombs and short-range ballistic missiles.
Though as to why Galactica would possess both missiles and KEPs is curious. Since Galactica’s KEPs are assumed to travel at Relativistic speeds (90-99% of light), and range is unlimited, it wouldn’t make much sense to possess both weapons. A 16-inch 3,000lb (1,360kg) KEP traveling at 90-99% of light would impact its target with equivalent force of 14,500 megatons (60,965,011,274,805,000,000J) and leave an impact crater around 10km (6.2 mi) in diameter. Easily far more destructive power than any nuclear weapon could produce. More than enough to destroy anything Galactica fired at.
The only advantage to having missiles is if they had FTL capability. That would allow Galactica a true stand-off capability. The ability to strike targets half a light-year or more away with little or no warning before impact. In that case a missile (most likely a Compact Kinetic Energy Missile (CKEM)) the size of a U.S. Navy Trident D5 with a mass of say 130,000lbs (59,000kg) or so, would strike its target with 631,409 megatons of force, the equivalent of 10-thousand Hiroshima A-bombs (15 kilotons). Whatever it hit, baseship, planet, or otherwise, the outcome is laughably obvious, it would quite literally be the bullet through the proverbially apple, a true planet killer in the very sense. With that kind of force if Galactica missed and say the KP hit a planet the KP would leave an impact crater 100 or so kilometers in diameter, and would quite literally leave a scar the size of the Grand Canyon on the planet’s surface. Not to mention a single 1-minute barrage of heavy gun fire would easily lay waste to an entire planet.
With these kind of terrifying weapons, it’s hard to imagine anything could survive an attack from a battlestar.
VLS (Vertical Launch system): A vertical launching system (VLS) is an advanced system for holding and firing missiles on mobile platforms. Each vertical launch system consists of a number of cells, which can hold one or more missiles (US Navy uses quad packs which gives a massive arsenal of missiles) ready for firing. Typically, each cell can hold a number (up to 4) of different types of missiles, allowing the ship flexibility to load the best set for any given mission. For example, a 50 cell VLS utilizing quad packs can hold 200 missiles. Further, when new missiles are developed, they are typically fitted to the existing vertical launch systems of that nation, allowing existing ships to use new types of missiles without expensive rework. When the command is given, the missile flies straight up long enough to clear the cell and the ship, and then turns on course.
It is very likely a battlestar would employ a type of VLS system.
PenAid [Penetration Aids]
A penetration aid is a device or tactic used to increase a warhead's chances of penetrating a target's defenses. These can consist of both physical devices carried within the warhead such as electronic counter measures, as well as tactics that accompany its launch, and may include one or more of the following:
- Stealth: The vehicle carrying the warhead[s] can have some form of stealth technology thereby hindering detection before the warhead detonates.
- Chaff: Chaff may be deployed over a large area of space, creating a large, radar-reflecting object that will obscure incoming warheads from defensive radar.
- Decoys: Decoys consist of balloons that can be inflated in space and are designed to have the same radar characteristics as the warhead. Because the warhead and the decoy balloons may be at different temperatures, the warhead and the balloons may both be surrounded by heated shrouds that put them all at the same temperature. This defeats attempts to discriminate between decoys and warheads on the basis of temperature, which can confuse an enemy's missile defense systems.
- Self-destruct features: deliberate fragmentation of the delivery vehicle or submunitions can cloud the enemy's radar by projecting a much larger signal than the actual warhead thus hiding the warhead within the debris field.
- Radar Jammers: These are transmitters that can be deployed on the decoys and the warhead to jam the frequencies used by defensive radars.
- Nuclear radar blackout: A nuclear device may be deliberately exploded in space by the attacker in order to provide a radar blackout that will allow subsequent warheads to pass through the enemy's defenses undetected.
PenAIds are a very crucial component to any well planned and executed attack. Given that the enemy only has a limited number of resources to adequately and confidently deal with incoming weapons [such as CIWS, Etc.] and defend itself, and unless the enemy resorts to a sort of saturation nuclear type defense, whereby they attempt to deal with the threat by quite literally throwing everything including the kitchen sink at the threat, a "hit" is virtually guaranteed. For example, as of present (2017) a single US PenAid [a modified Mk-21 MIRV] mixed with actual warheads can virtually ensure the destruction of a significant portion of the enemy target and or specific assets, such as command structure. A US Mk-21 PenAid can produce up 551 credible-looking targets. If multiple PenAids are incorporated in an attack, then the enemy’s defenses and resources are simply overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of credible target options.
The ships and weapons of BSG are also seen employing PenAids during their attacks on baseships and the such. Adama employs PenAids in several episodes of the Reimagined series. He employs a captured Cylon RF transmitter to allow Boomer and her copilot to approach a baseship over Kobol and deliver a tactical nuclear weapon into the baseship. He employs drones as a Pen Aid in the battle of New Caprica to confuse and mislead the Cylons allowing the Galactica to maneuver into position to attack.
Galactica has at least ten heavy missile launch tubes as seen in episode, and most likely many more (A US Trident submarine carries 24 missiles), perhaps hundreds. These heavy missiles are likely very similar to the US Navy's Trident D-5 SLBM. Adama makes it clear they have air-to-ground capability as well as ship-to-ship capability as well as he says prior to the assault on the Colony that they will be too close for missiles. Adama states there are five nuclear warheads aboard as of the outbreak of the war. By the time Galactica reaches the algae planet, her stockpile has increased to at least seven nuclear missiles, presumably more as Adama also states Galactica was resupplied by Pegasus when they first discovered each other .
Ship to ship missiles
Both the Valkyrie and Pegasus are fitted with ship-to-ship missile. It is unknown if Galactica is also equipped with anti ship missiles, though presumably she is capable of launching them though probably from a separate VLS rather than the larger dedicated heavy-missile tubes.
There are a lot of references to "weapons range" in BSG and other SciFi shows. But the reality is, unless the laws of physics are different in the BSGverse, that Newton's First Law of motion still applies. In space with no appreciable resistance to act upon a projectile it will continue indefinitely until it meets equal or greater resistance. This means there is no limit on "weapon's range". What is likely being referred to is time to target detection. The amount of time an object has enroot to some point before there is a 50% chance of detection. At near what is assumed to be relativistic speeds this means at closest (pointblank range) 200,000 miles or so, about the earth to the moon, and a more realistic range of maybe 500,000-1,000,000 miles (two to four times the distance from the earth to the moon). At these ranges it would take a projectile from Galactica 3-6 seconds to reach a target. On the pilot part 2 during the battle of Ragnar HOPs are seen traveling with a 3-4 second flight time. And during the joint battle with Pegasus to destroy the Resurrection ship HOKPs (Heavy Ordnance Kinetic Penetrators) are seen traveling at 2-3 seconds to target. A practical maximum flight time of no more than 20 seconds (about 3,000,000-4,000,000 miles) before 50% chance of detection is very realistic. (though at maximum range (21 miles) a shell fired from a Iowa-class battleship has almost 2 minutes of flight time). Lt. Geita says (episode and season needed) that four Cylon baseships "jumped almost on top of them " (Galactica) at a range of 25,000-klicks (kilometers). At that range it would take less than a second (assuming again Glactica's KP are traveling at relativistic speeds) to reach the baseships. Kera is able to shoot down all but one Cylon nuke before it passes. Adama says to Apollo that launching a nuke to destroy a Cylon Guardian baseship is useless because the range is too great and the Cylons have fallen back into defensive formation and will intercept anything shot at them. So there is no limit on range, only the distance and time to detect incoming ordinance and intercept that is an issue.
In the Reimagined TV series battlestars and baseship are shown to be within visual range of each other during battle. This is misleading as the distances would in reality be so enormous the ships would never see each other. As of present naval ships engage each other at distances of 100s of miles at ranges well beyond visual range. In the 1978 series the writes seem to keep the ships at more realistic ranges. The best explanation for the discrepancy in the Reimagined series is that it was done for theatrical purposes. In reality the ships of BSG would be 100,000s of miles apart at least, if not millions of miles apart during battle.
targeting & guidance
It appears that the all forms of munitions fired from Galactica (HOKPs and smaller munitions) are smart and not dumb referring to their ability to be self-autonomous after firing (fire & forget). This inference is made as no one is seen guiding the projectiles after firing, and they are no ‘misses’ seen in any of the episodes. Being that the writers stated they wanted to show Galactica with technology that was possible in ‘real’ time and is in line with munitions used today by the US navy.
These would be some kind of smart maneuverable self-autonomous all-target programmable ammunitions fitted with a multi-mode imaging seeker that can be guided through laser designation or autonomous targeting and fitted with some form of smart fusing, allowing the projectile to decide the settings for time, impact, and armor-piercing functions. Maneuvering is assumed to be provided by cold-gas thrusters. This increases the flexibility and effectiveness of the gun system, which further reduces the reaction time of the gun and it is possible to choose ammunition mode at the moment of firing, giving it the ability to switch rapidly between targets. This ensures a rapid one hit/shot kill of the target. This not only increases efficiency, it conserves ammunition.
This is supported when Major Adama CO of the Pegasus orders that the main batteries target the central axis of the Cylon baseships. This would not be possible given the range and speed the ships are engaging each other at without self autonomous precession guided munitions.
The battlestar Galactica was originally equipped with 80 Viper Mk. I fighters. During the First Cylon War these were replaced with the Mk. II, and later, the Mk. III versions. In addition to improved maneuverability, the Mk. II fighters are also equipped with two light missile racks. This is confusing giving the enormous size of Galactica. A Nimitz or Gerald Ford class carrier carries a standard compliment of 70-90 and as many as 120 aircraft. It seems more probable that each flight pod carries 80+ Vipers and Raptors. A squadron is between 12-24 aircraft. An air wing is typically 80-100 planes divided into 4 or so squadrons. Chances are Galactica operates at least two full air wings (one for each flight pod). At the time of the Cylon attack the starboard flight has been converted into a museum. So it can be assumed that air wing has been reassigned, and Galactica is operating with only a single air-wing of 80-120 fighters or so.
Before the destruction of the Twelve Colonies, Pegasus's fighter squadrons were flying the newer Mk. VII Vipers. Most of Galactica's Mk. VIIs had been reassigned with the battlestar's pending decommission; the Galactica's remaining squadron of Mk. VII fighters were destroyed by a pair of Raiders immediately after their avionic systems were incapacitated by the Cylon computer virus.
Following the outbreak of the Second Cylon War, the Vipers in the ship's starboard hangar museum were aging Mk. II's which were pressed back into service. These fighters, supplemented by a small number of retrofitted Mk. VII's, gave Galactica an effective air group of roughly forty Vipers. Attrition over the following months reduced this number as the ship and her fleet of civilian craft were pursued by the Cylons. The arrival of Pegasus with her mostly intact squadrons and Viper production facilities were a huge boost to Galactica's dwindling air group. With the destruction of the Pegasus her squadrons were subsequently transferred to Galactica, giving the latter a full complement of fighters that were largely Mk VII Vipers.
Galactica was also equipped with numerous FTL jump capable Raptors, tactical multi-role spacecraft used for transportation, reconnaissance, scouting, tactical bombing/attacking, refueling, and electronic countermeasures.
Galactica's crew complement prior to its scheduled decommissioning was around 2,000. This figure would be much higher for a fully equipped battlestar, exceeding the 5,000 mark. After the Cylon attack, Galactica's crew complement rose to over 2,500 as civilians joined the service.
In the pilot part-1 we are told that Galactica's first CO was Cmdr. Nash. Galactica's last CO is of course Cmdr. Adama (soon to Adm. Adama) who has been the CO for the past 3-years. The other COs names are unknown at this time.
After the settlement of New Caprica, Galactica's crew was gradually reduced as personnel left the ship to join the civilians on the planet surface. When the Cylons returned after the colonization of New Caprica, Galactica was manned by a skeleton crew.
After the rescue of the civilian population from New Caprica, Galactica's crew was bolstered by the return of the retired crew members from the planet as well as the survivors of Pegasus. It is implied that most if not all the Pegasus crew escaped the loss of their ship, bringing Galactica's crew close to full strength.
A battlestar's crew, aside from the Colonial Marines component present aboard the vessel, consisted of Colonial Fleet personnel. As such, the crew falls into a common, hierarchical, military rank structure. This hierarchy was divided into two broad groups: commissioned officers who exercise command oversight; and enlisted personnel (including non-commissioned officers) who performed technical duties or exercise first line supervisory authority.
The colonial battlestar represents the backbone of the Colonial fleet. The battlestar is official designated a fast heavy battle carrier [BSG]. The battlestar is immense capital warship and as such is expected to conduct fighter operations while being able to engage in and survive direct combat with heavy hostile enemy elements in sustained combat on at least equal terms. The requirement to deliver increased speed and maneuverability without compromising fighting ability or protection was the principal challenge of battlestar design. While increasing size was the most direct method of attaining these desired assets, one principal problem of larger size was speed, especially at hyper light speeds (as dictated by E=MC2), this meant a bigger ship that was considerably costlier and/or could exceed practical size applications. It took technological advancements in propulsion, and light high-strength armor technologies, along with advancements in other forms of defensive shielding, and armament, in order to make the battlestar feasible.
In season one episode one we are told The Galactica is most decorated warship in the Colonial fleet. As is seen in the original and reimagined series, at the core of Galactica's arsenal is an array of hard hitting weapons and heavy armor that allowed the Galactica, and her sister battlestars, to directly engage heavy enemy elements and at the very least fight them back, while allowing their fighters and tactical bombers to carry out offensive and defensive operations. It clearly appears Galactica was designed to have an extremely high survivability rate when deployed, and when engaging vital enemy assets. The Galactica appears to have been designed around a core principal known as the All or nothing (armor) principal. This states that Galactica (and presumably the sister ships in her class) would have all the essential assets (firepower, armor, speed, ETC) or none at all, to ensure they could survive direct engagement with the heaviest enemy elements in service and at least fight to a stalemate. The general tactic of a battlestar, in line with most capital ships, is to maneuverer within range of the enemy asset, and delivery a massive and overwhelming, debilitating, barrage of weapons fire that literally "cracks open' the hull of the enemy ship, and then deliver the coup de grâce or tōdōmé/とどめの一撃 (Stroke of grace/killing blow) with a final fatal salvo.
For comparison, Cylon baseships appear to be massive auxiliary ships who's primary function is to ferry and maintain a massive fighter compliment. They are equipped with a huge arsenal of stand-off weapons (missiles) that appear specially intended for tactical fire support of their fighters, planetary bombardment, and limited ship-to-ship function. The fact Galactica is seen sustaining numerous high-order detonations with little effect seems to support the observation that Cylon missiles lack the ability to reliably penetrate the armor bulkheads of a battlestar.
When separated from their Raider groups, Cylon baseships appear to be no match for Colonial battlestars in ship to ship combat. Indeed, throughout the series Colonial battlestars demonstrate a marked superiority over their Cylon counterparts in this area. In the season two episode "Resurrection Ship, Part II", with both sides' fighter groups engaged elsewhere, the battlestars Galactica and Pegasus successfully engaged and destroyed at least one basestar and at least heavily damaged a second. The battlestars used the tactic of isolating and circling one basestar at a time and maintaining a constant barrage of gunfire until it was destroyed. A similar tactic of having Cylon Raiders occupied elsewhere was used in the battle of New Caprica. Galactica was able to fight four basestars simultaneously (albeit with heavy damage). With the later arrival of Pegasus, three of the four basestars were destroyed, although with the loss of Pegasus as well.
The role and performance of the basestars indicate that they are not nearly as well armored or armed as battlestars. Their offensive and defensive capabilities are dependent mainly on their Raiders. Although basestars possess missile silos that can be used in ship to ship combat and in orbital bombardment, once deprived of their Raiders, basestars are vulnerable because they have no heavy guns and virtually no armor. In contrast, while Colonial battlestars are dependent on their Viper squadrons for offense and defense, they are also heavily armored against both nuclear and conventional weapons, and possess an array of both light and heavy gun batteries. Battlestar heavy gunfire and missiles have proven very effective in ship to ship engagements. Moreover, the high volume and rate of gunfire permitted a battlestar to establish and maintain a defensive perimeter, shielding it from both Raider and missile attacks. Battlestars' fighter hangars are located inside the heavily armoured flight pods, while Cylon baseships carry their Raider complements in "slots" in their outer hull, half-outside the baseship itself.
Additionally, a basestar appeared to be much less maneuverable than a battlestar. It is possible to surmise that the design of a basestar is intended to optimize Raider storage and maintenance space, at the cost of armor, firepower and maneuverability. Battlestars, conversely, are much bigger targets and cannot field as many fighters, but have clear superiority in maneuverability, armor, and firepower.
One exemplar of a battlestar's toughness is Galactica. Though fifty years old and scheduled for decommissioning, she proved remarkably resilient. Galactica successfully engaged in battle after battle, continually taking damage and only able to perform makeshift, ad hoc repairs before the next attack. During the Battle of New Caprica, Galactica took serious structural damage, enough for Colonel Tigh to remark that it would take six weeks in dry dock "just to bang out the dents", indicating it would likely take months of work to repair her completely. After these events, Galactica was still capable of defending the fleet against a major Cylon attack at the end of the third season. Towards the end of the fourth season, it was revealed that the ship was slowly falling apart due to stress fractures, presumably a result of cumulative battle damage and the fact that the original builders 'cut corners' during the ship's construction. Despite her weakened condition, Galactica was able to engage the much larger Cylon Colony. The ship took an enormous amount of fire from the colony and was further damaged when she was deliberately rammed into her Cylon adversary. Galactica managed to jump away from the destroyed colony, but without proper preparation (her flight pods were extended) and sustained severe structural damage. This was enough to 'break her back' - the battlestar would never be able to jump again. Despite this, the ship remained operable, with sublight engines and life support still intact, and was even able to resume limited flight operations during the colonization of the world the Colonials dubbed Earth.
BSG reimagined Timeline
The BSG universe is based on Stellar Units (SU). One SU is the same as one Astronomical Unit (AU), or 150,000,000 kilometers. 1 light-year (LY) is equal to 63,240 AU/SU. The Twelve Colonies are a part of the Milky Way Galaxy. They are found in the Cyrannus star complex (Fictional) that is a system of four closely grouped stars that are orbiting a larger center. The twelve Colonies are located in these four systems. These systems are designated Helios Alpha (Α), Helios, Beta (Β), Helios Delta (Δ), and Helios Gamma (Γ). The Cyrannus system consists of four stars, twenty-four planets, at least 132 moons and four major asteroid belts, all spanning 0.16 light-years. The system is huge (the Solar system is approximately 0.005 light-years wide, extending to the termination shock of the Sun’s influence), but the distances are trivial compared to interstellar travel. For comparison our solar system is 122AU (0.00192LY) from the sun to Pluto.
The maximum precise distance that can be entered on Galactica‘s flight computer is apparently 999,999 stellar units, the BSG equivalent of astronomical units (1 AU = the distance between Earth and the Sun, or 93 million miles/150 million kilometers). This works out at 15.812 light-years. According to the producers of the series, the Fleet more typically jumps 5 light-years or less at a time, as a jump of this distance can be worked out relatively quickly (the twelve hours mentioned in the Season 2 episode Scattered seems likely). When Galactica jumps from the Ragnar anchorage to the Prolmar sector (S1, E1, part-2) we are told it’s some 30LY away.
Cylon FTL technology is comprehensively superior to that of the Colonials. In Lay Down Your Burdens, a Cylon Heavy Raider FTL computer is able to travel from the vicinity of New Caprica all the way back to the Twelve Colonies in just ten jumps. It would have taken Galactica 230 jumps (conservatively) to reach the Twelve Colonies from Kobol, which was significantly closer. This suggests that the Cylons may be able to traverse dozens to a couple of hundred light-years in a single jump.
Major Landmarks on the Road to Earth
Travelling from the Twelve Colonies to Earth, the Fleet passes through or discovers the following major landmarks:
- The Twelve Colonies to the Prolmar sector 30LY
- Kobol ~1,500-2,000LY (reached 50 days after leaving the Colonies)
- The Lagoon Nebula
- New Caprica (reached 205 days after leaving Kobol; 255 days’ total after the Exodus)
- 16 months (480 day) on New Caprica (1 year, plus 4 months under Cylon occupation)
- Battle of New Caprica (marks the end of fleets involvement at New Caprica)
- The Lion’s Head Nebula (reached 50 days after leaving New Caprica; 713 days’ total after the Exodus)
- The Star Cluster and Algae Planet (reached 67 days after leaving the Lion’s Head Nebula; 780 total days after the Exodus)
- The Ionian Nebula (reached 100–120 days after leaving the Algae Planet; 880-900 total days after the Exodus)
- Old Earth (a.k.a. the Thirteenth Colony, ˂2,000LY from Kobol) (reached ~65–70 days after leaving the Ionian Nebula; 945-950 total days after the Exodus)
- The Cylon Colony (reached maybe 100–120 days after leaving Old Earth)
- New Earth 5.77 light-years (362,321AU from the FTL data entered by Starbuck) from the Colony (reached immediately from the Cylon Colony; ~1,045-1,070 days’ (2.8–3 years) total after the Exodus)
Of these landmarks, the only ones that “really” exist are the Lagoon Nebula and New Earth (a.k.a. our Earth). The Lagoon Nebula is located 4,100LY from Earth towards the galactic core, in the constellation of Sagittarius. Rather fortuitously, the position of the Lagoon Nebula allows us to actually map out a lot of the journey by itself.
The Fleet never reaches the Lagoon Nebula itself. Instead, Adama, Kera, and Apollo see it in the Temple of Athena on Kobol in the episode Home, Part II. The Temple holds a starmap showing the precise patterns of twelve constellations as seen from the Thirteenth Colony. These include an image of the Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius (the episode says Scorpius constellation, but the producers later confirmed this was a mistake). Adama immediately recognizes the Lagoon Nebula, except that from Earth it appears larger (he says that the nebula is a “long way” from Kobol). This suggests that the Twelve Colonies, Earth and the Lagoon Nebula form a direct line of sight, otherwise the nebula – not being a symmetrical object – would not be immediately recognizable to Adama.
from the Temple information alone you should be able to narrow down the location of Earth to a few light-years, or tens of light-years at worst. This seems fine but there is a problem: the information from the trip to Earth is 4,000 years out of date. This is long enough for the stars to move (in their respective orbits around the galactic core) and slightly change the appearance of the constellations. With hundreds of stars to line up in the right location, this may expand the error of margin from a few dozen to maybe a hundred or two hundred light-years: still a reasonable search area but one that would take months to explore thoroughly.
We are given one direct, very firm piece of information on distance in the course of the series:
- Kobol is slightly less than two thousand light-years from Old Earth (the Thirteenth Colony).
The Thirteenth Tribe left Kobol using slower-than-light, subluminal drives approximately 4,000 years ago. After reaching and colonizing Old Earth (the trip took under 2,000 years, but only months from the point of view of the people on board the ship because of relativity), there was enough time – decades to a couple of centuries – for several cities to be built on the planetary surface before they were destroyed in a nuclear war which took place 2,000 years ago (roughly 150,000 - 155,000 years ago total). The five survivors of the cataclysm then departed Old Earth and reached Kobol during the First Cylon War, approximately forty years before the events of the mini-series. This puts the Thirteenth Colony to somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000LY from Kobol, assuming the Thirteenth Tribe’s sublight engines were able to reach speeds approaching 90%-99% of light speed.
This begs the question as to how far the Twelve Colonies are from Kobol. According to the map of the Twelve Colonies created for Caprica, Kobol is also c. 2,000 light-years from the Colonies. With the Twelve Colonies, Earth and Lagoon Nebula being in a straight line, this seems to conclusively locate Earth 4,000 light-years from the Colonies with Kobol in the middle. However, this introduces a number of major continuity issues, most notably that it only takes the Fleet 50 days and 230 or so jumps of around 8 light-years each time to reach Kobol (the Fleet actually makes many more jumps due to the events of 33, but once a bit past Kobol they work out it’ll be about 230 jumps to get back home). That means they cover half of the entire distance from the Colonies to Earth in the first season alone. Based on the timescales involved, if the Fleet had simply kept flying towards the Lagoon Nebula from Kobol at the same rate, they would have reached Earth before they even encountered Pegasus.
On this basis we have to assume that the 2,000LY distance is simply incorrect (it may be what is believed by the Colonials at the time of Caprica but this is in error) and Kobol is much, much closer to the Twelve Colonies. If we go with the 5 light-year distance for jumps given by the writers, that puts Kobol approximately 1,150 light-years from the Twelve Colonies. At 3 light years per jump it would be 690 light-years and so on. This would put Kobol at the one-quarter or one-third distance to Earth, which still seems a bit too close considering the length of time it takes the Colonials to reach Earth afterwards (even removing the sixteen-month layover on New Caprica), but is at least more plausible.
The Fleet departs the Twelve Colonies within hours to a day or so of the initial Cylon attack. It regroups at the gas giant Ragnar at the edge of the system before making a jump way past Galactica‘s red line to the Prolmar Sector, 30LY distant (the mini-series).
The Cylons immediately pursue, appearing every 33 minutes, what mathematically works out to about 5 days days or so, without fail. With Galactica unable to make a normal jump calculation (which Scattered suggests takes 12 hours), it has to instead make a series of rapid-fire microjumps. As long as these jumps are more than 33 light-minutes distant (33 light minutes is 594,000,000 kilometers/4AU, roughly the distance from Earth to Jupiter), it means that the Cylons can’t visually “see” the fleet and have to rely on other ways of tracking the fleet (it is hinted that they are being given the jump coordinates by an agent on the Olympic Carrier and are doing the 33-minute thing simply to mess with the Colonials). At 33-light minutes per jump it would take Galactica 30.5 FTL jumps, or 3.5 days, just get out of our solar system beginning from the sun to furthest position of Pluto's orbit. For comparison it took the New Horizons space craft, the fastest object ever launched from Earth, traveling at 50,000 mph or 1-million miles a day, 9.5 years to reach Pluto from Earth. However, between jumps the fleet is traveling at presumably relativistic speeds at roughly 90%-99% of light.
After six days and 239 33-light-minute (1.41966e11 kilometers; 0.0150LY; 948.98SU; roughly 131 hours or 5 days) microjumps, the Galactica crew destroy the Olympic Carrier and effectively prevent the Cylons from directly pursuing them (S1, E2, 33). The Cylons instead resort to “staking out” the watering holes – fuel, water and food sources – in the surrounding systems to try to trap the Fleet (Water, You Can’t Go Home Again, The Hand of God). It’s also probable that the Cylon agents in the Fleet at this time are able to signal the Cylons, if at least not providing “live” information on the Fleet’s movements (there is no FTL communications in the BSG universe either) then letting them know where they’ve been.
Fifty days after leaving the Twelve Colonies the Fleet reaches Kobol (Kobol’s Last Gleaming, Part I). From a location past Kobol it is 230 jumps back to the Colonies (Pegasus). Assuming 5 light years per jump, that makes for a distance of 1,150 light-years from the Colonies to that location, putting Kobol at somewhat less, maybe 900-1,000 light-year range. At Kobol the Fleet discovers the Tomb of Athena and a starmap showing the constellations of the Twelve Tribes and the Lagoon Nebula (Home, Part II). The Fleet begins heading towards the Lagoon Nebula. Assuming Old Earth and New Earth are in the same stellar neighborhood (which appears likely from later information) and given that we know that Old Earth is 2,000 light-years from Kobol, that puts the Fleet at roughly one-third of the distance from the Colonies to Earth at this time. This puts the distance from the Fleet to the Lagoon Nebula at this time to around 6,100 light-years.
What happens next is a bit odd: Galactica and the Fleet take a further 205 days to travel from Kobol to New Caprica. This timeline discrepancy was introduced by the writers when they needed to have Athena give birth to Hera between eight and nine months after conception, with conception taking place in late Season 1. Given that the entirety of Season 1 spans about seven weeks and has the Fleet cover one-third the distance to Earth already, this appears problematic. However, there is a possible explanation. After leaving Kobol the Fleet encounters the battlestar Pegasus and destroys the Cylon fleet that has been trailing them since the Colonies, including its resurrection ship (Resurrection Ship, Part II). This takes the heat off the Colonials and means they can spend a lot longer doing jump calculations, make shorter but safer jumps and also gives them time for much-needed downtime, repairs and maintenance. The Fleet also spends a month undertaking mining operations in an asteroid belt (Scar), whilst Pegasus spends a large amount of time building new Vipers and training new pilots with its simulators.
The Fleet reaches New Caprica (Lay Down Your Burdens, Part I) and settle the planet. A year later the planet is occupied by the Cylons (Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II). Four months later Galactica and Pegasus mount a rescue operation. This is successful, but Pegasus is destroyed in the process (Exodus, Part II). The Fleet then resumes the search for Earth. It is difficult to pinpoint the location of New Caprica except that it is within a dense nebula cloud. This nebula is so thick that, unlike other nebulas in the series, it interferes with DRADIS signals. It is possible that New Caprica is actually located in the outskirts of none other than the Orion Nebula, located 1,350 light-years from Earth. Based on the trajectory and distances given so far, the Orion Nebula is very close to the route from Earth to the Colonies via Kobol. The Orion Nebula also appears in the background of a scene in Scattered, suggesting that it the Fleet is at least in the vicinity. Since the Fleet locates New Caprica by accident, it is even possible that they had already passed the area and doubled back to the settle the planet.
After leaving New Caprica the Fleet follows astronomical information from Baltar’s notes and reach the Lion’s Head Nebula fifty days later (Torn), where they find a beacon left behind by the Thirteenth Tribe (which is then destroyed before any information can be extracted from it). It can be assumed that the Fleet may be making much shorter and safer jumps at this point.
The Lion’s Head Nebula is home to a rotating pulsar. There are a few pulsars within 1,500LY of Earth (the closest is about 700LY away) so this isn’t too much of a problem. From the nebula the fleet finds its way to a dense star cluster (The Passage), beyond which lies the Algae Planet where the Thirteenth Tribe built the Temple of Hopes (The Eye of Jupiter). There are plenty of star clusters at the distance we are looking at, although not quite in the right direction. The closest are the Pleiades at c. 450 light years at a slight tangent from Orion, but the Pleiades are very easily recognizable. After reaching the Algae Planet, the local star goes nova and provides the Fleet with the next clue, the way to the Ionian Nebula (Rapture). The location of the Algae Planet is unknown, but the destruction of its star would have left behind an interesting supernova remnant. The only supernova remains that looks like the Eye of Jupiter is NGC 7293, a.k.a. the Helix Nebula, simply because it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Eye of Jupiter.
This though creates a major problem: the Ionian Nebula is said by Lt. Gaeta to be thirteen thousand light-years from the Algae Planet (or 2,600 jumps at five light years a time!). However, this distance – which is grossly at odds with all other distances given in the series – seems to be erroneous and Gaeta actually meant thirteen hundred LY. This is still problematic but not as much as trying to fit in a 13,000LY side-trip into the series, especially given they make the trip in 120 days’ max (from Rapture to Crossroads, Part II) which is simply impossible given the information we have do to limitations of Colonial technology. 1,300LY is about the distance from the Orion Nebula to Earth, so it’s possible that this side-trip is actually in error and takes Galactica and the Fleet way off course. It’s notable that the Thirteenth Tribe merely saw the Ionian Nebula supernova in the sky, they didn’t necessarily travel there directly which the Fleet did. This is backed up by the fact that in the first few episodes of Season 4 the Fleet seem stumped by what to do next and have to rely on Starbuck to guide them to Earth, which after seventy-odd days of flying in circles she eventually does (Revelations).
Old Earth is a nuclear wasteland, completely uninhabitable. The Fleet begins a thorough, exacting search of the surrounding star systems for a habitable planet to settle on (Sometimes a Great Notion). At this point the constellations from Old Earth match those from the Temple of Athena – which makes sense – but of course we know that those constellations also mostly match those as seen from our Earth. As a result, this puts Old Earth and New Earth in the same stellar neighborhood, meaning that the Fleet may have found it anyway if the search had continued for much longer. Instead, of course, Galactica is forced to mount an assault on the Cylon Colony to rescue Hera. The Colony is located in close orbit above a black hole. Galactica launches the rescue mission and it is successful. However, with the Colony’s orbit compromised and decaying, Galactica has to make an emergency jump. Using the coordinates provided by studying the mysterious “music”, Starbuck programs Galactica‘s FTL computer to jump 362,321 astronomical units, or 5.77 light-years. The ship then arrives in orbit above New Earth (Daybreak, Part III).
There isn’t a black hole system 5.77 light-years from Earth, but as the closing moments of the finale reveal this isn’t necessarily a problem: the series is revealed as having taken place 150,000 or so years in the past. 150,000 years ago it is possible that a black hole system passed within 6ly of the Solar system and the galaxy’s rotation has carried it a significant distance away from us in that time.
There is a lot of speculation, because the writers of the show weren’t always paying attention to things like time, space and distances, but broadly speaking we can see BSG as a surprisingly constrained show, spanning just a few thousand light-years rather than implausibly trying to take in the entire galaxy like some shows do. Something that does come through in all of this is how utterly vast space is and how even a tiny proportion of the galaxy (Galactica traverses approximately 3% of the width of the galaxy in its journey) is unfathomably huge.
(Sourc: werthead in battlestar galactica, stellar cartography, https://atlasoficeandfireblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/stellar-cartography-the-journey-of-the-galactica/)
List of battlestars
Four classes of battlestars are portrayed in detail in the reimagined series. The Galactica-type is the only class shown for the first season and a half; appearing later are the Mercury class and the Valkyrie-type, while the Orion class appears in Blood & Chrome. There is also one class of ship shown in the game "Diaspora: Shattered Armistice".
- Battlestar Atlantia
- Became the flagship of Admiral Nagala and the surviving Colonial Fleet after Picon Fleet Headquarters and much of the fleet are destroyed during the first wave of the Cylon assault. Like almost all of its sister ships, Atlantia was subsequently destroyed.
- Battlestar Archeron
- Destroyed soon after construction ten years into the First Cylon War in an ambush attack by Cylons.The Archeron was referred to as a "heavy cruiser".
- Battlestar Columbia
- The first battlestar Columbia served during the First Cylon War and was destroyed during Operation Raptor Talon, the last battle of that conflict. William Adama was involved in this action on his first mission as a Viper pilot, and witnessed the ship's destruction. This Columbia appears to belong to the same ship class as Galactica.
- The second battlestar Columbia was destroyed along with the Atlantia during the destruction of the twelve colonies. Columbia's executive officer some time before the events depicted in the show was William Adama.
- Battlestar Galactica
- The Galactica survived the Cylon attack on the Colonies. During its service in the original Cylon war, the Galactica was a part of Battlestar Group 75 (BSG 75). At the time of the attack, Galactica was the last ship of its class, undergoing formal decommissioning and slated to be converted into a museum. The Galactica was commanded by William Adama. It became the protector of a fleet of civilian ships carrying the last remnants of humanity. For the next four years Galactica served as the fleet's primary (and for the most part only) capital ship, holding off Cylon attacks during the long journey from the Colonies. In concert with Cylon rebels it inflicted a crippling defeat on the Cylons at the Battle of the Colony, and following the settlement of Earth, Galactica was flown into Sol with the rest of the fleet.
- Battlestar Solaria
- Destroyed along with the Atlantia.
- Battlestar Triton
- Destroyed along with the Atlantia. Triton was part of Battlestar Group 39 (BSG-39) and she was Crashdown's original posting. Starbuck also served on the battlestar Triton once.
- Battlestar Valkyrie
- Commanded by William Adama three years prior to the fall of the Twelve Colonies. Valkyrie was ordered by Admiral Corman to launch a black operation to penetrate the Cylon Armistice Zone to gather intelligence on Cylon battle readiness. The operation ended in disaster, and Adama was 'downgraded' to command of Galactica to oversee that ship's retirement (and his own). Battlestar Valkyrie was assigned to Battlestar Group 41 (BSG-41). The Valkyrie was destroyed over Caprica just prior to the fall of the Twelve Colonies, as seen in Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.
- Battlestar Yashuman
- Destroyed along with battlestar Valkyrie over the planet Caprica just prior to the fall of the Twelve Colonies. Yashuman initially detects the Cylon assault force on DRADIS during the engagement, and launches its Vipers. However, after being scanned by Cylon raiders, CNP backdoors are activated and Yashuman's systems are shut down, paving the way for the Cylons to destroy her without a shot fired in return.
All other battlestars except Galactica and Pegasus fell prey to the Cylon virus. The virus disabled the battlestars, making them vulnerable to attack.
- Battlestar Pegasus
- The battlestar Pegasus also survived the Cylon attack, and later joined Galactica and her civilian fleet for a time. It was more advanced (a Mercury class battlestar) than Galactica and was part of Battlestar Group 62 (BSG-62). Originally commanded by Rear Admiral Cain, her former Executive Officer, Colonel Fisk became commander of Pegasus following her death. Commander Fisk was murdered in a conflict related to his illegal black market trading activities and was replaced by Chief Engineer Garner. Garner himself was killed in action shortly thereafter, sacrificing his life to save Pegasus from a Cylon ambush. Under its final commander, Lee Adama, Pegasus intentionally rammed a Cylon Basestar, being destroyed in the process, although the crew escaped before the collision.
- Battlestar Theseus
- The battlestar Theseus was shown in the game Diaspora: Shattered Armistice to have survived the initial Cylon attack. Being a late Cylon War era ship, it has armnaments similar to the Galactica and does not have the CNP installed in its Vipers, Raptors, or central computers. Before it can jump to Ragnar Anchorage, however, it is destroyed by three Cylon basestars.
- "Zoic Studios - Visual Evolution in VFX". Archived from the original on 2008-05-15.
- "Mini Series, Part 1". Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries.
- "Mini Series, Part 2". Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries.
- Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, Battlestar Galactica: Razor webisodes.
- Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome
- "The Captain's Hand". Battlestar Galactica, 2004 series.
- "Scattered". Battlestar Galactica, 2004 series.
- "Resurrection Ship, Part 2". Battlestar Galactica, 2004 series.
- "Bastille Day". Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series).
- "The Eye of Jupiter". Battlestar Galactica, 2004 series.
- "Season 1". Battlestar Galactica, 2004 series.
- "Season 3". Battlestar Galactica, 2004 series.
- "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2". Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series).
- Aired in online release of Battlestar Galactica:Blood and Chrome episode 2
- "Razor Flashbacks". Battlestar Galactica, 2004 series.
- "33". Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series).
- "The Son Also Rises (Battlestar Galactica)". Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series).
- "Battlestar Galactica: The Plan". Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series).
- "Exodus". Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series).