Robotechnology is the general term applied to the various advanced technologies reverse engineered from the alien spacecraft that crash-landed on Macross Island in 1999. When the object, officially classified as Alien Space Ship One (ASS-1) but commonly referred to as simply "The Visitor", crashed the world was embroild in a Global Civil War. With the arrival of the Visitor a truce was declared and an international team of scientists and engineers, led by German scientist Dr. Emil Lang, began work on deciphering the advanced alien technolology found within the spacecraft.
Under a strict veil of secrecy the science of Robotechnology was born. Work on Robotechnology was restricted to two locations, the original crash site on Macross Island (where work proceeded on the repair and refit of ASS-1) and at the newly established Robotech Research Facility near Tokyo.
Human knowledge expanded almost exponentially as the ship slowly gave up its secrets. Several advances in science and engineering were made within the first few years, but the priority was on military technology. Those who knew of the alien ship also knew that one day that ship's original owners might come looking for it and they wanted to be prepared. The most significant advances to come out of Robotechnology were:
The single most important discovery made from the alien space ship was Protoculture, which would become the key to Robotechnology. At the heart of ASS-1 was the vessel's unique power source, the Protoculture Matrix. Scientists examining the Matrix were able to determine that the Protoculture was a strange form of organic matter held in stasis. Somehow the process of keeping the material in stasis caused it to radiate large amounts of energy, making it an incredibly efficient power source. Eventually the scientists discovered a means to siphon off varying amounts of Protoculture from the Matrix, which allowed them to make it the central power source for the newly developed Robotech spacecraft and mecha. Shortly after the first Protoculture-powered mecha prototypes were developed, Robotech scientists made a shocking discovery. Due to some strange side effect of its organic nature when Protoculture was used to power a mecha, the vehicle would form a symbiotic link with its pilot. This link resulted in the pilot getting a greater agility and responsiveness from the mecha than with more conventionally powered systems. Efforts to duplicate this link artificialy have so far failed, and the effect seems to be limited to single pilot mecha and vehicles.
Scientists examining the crashed spacecraft noted the huge size of some of the systems and deduced that the original occupants had been humanoid but giants, over 15m tall. To combat the potential threat of these "giant aliens" Robotech engineers began developing weapons systems of comparable size. The weapons systems were built around a roughly humanoid form comparable in size to that of the aliens. These giant robotic combat vehicles were called mecha (from mechanical) and were equipped with several heavy weapons systems. The first series of mecha were called Destroids and were designed to fulfill artillery and anti-aircraft functionality. Later advances in Robotechnology allowed for the creation of the next series of mecha, Veritechs, which combined the functionality of a robotic combat system with the ability to transform, changing their external configuration from a humanoid robot into a more conventional appearing fighter jet and back. This transformation process is sometimes referred to as mechamorphosis.
Reverse engineering many of the systems from the alien craft allowed scientists to advance spacecraft technology decades, maybe centuries ahead of what it had been at the beginning of the 21st century. The use of Protoculture power sources eliminated the need of conventional solid rocket booster for lifting vehicles in orbit. In place of these were more efficient reaction thrusters, usable for both lift-off and propulsion. Surface to orbit launches were made even more efficient by the use of gravity control systems that could lighten the effective mass of a spacecraft so it required less thrust to reach orbit. Another by product of the gravity control systems was the creation of artificial gravity for spacecraft, satellites, and bases on low-gravity worlds. Perhaps the most astonishing piece of space travel technology discovered was the Fold System, a propulsion system that enabled relative faster-than-light (FTL) travel by folding the fabric of space-time to allow a spacecraft to travel via artificial micro-wormhole between two distant points in space.
The use of Protoculture power sources led to new advances in beam weapon technology. The near-inexhaustable energy available from the Protoculture-based power systems meant that practical vehicle-mounted energy weapons were now possible. The new series of mecha combat systems were the first to be equipped with beam weapon technology, followed by more conventional military equipment. Space-based platforms were outfitted with larger, even more powerful energy weapons that would not be practical for use in a planetary atmosphere. The peak of Reflex beam weapon technology was the Reflex Canon. These powerful weapons generated massive energy beams hundreds of meters across which were capable of destroying anything in their path. The first of these Reflex Canons was the Main Gun of the SDF-1. Three planetary defense versions (called Grand Canons) were slated to be built on Earth but only one, located at RDF Alaska Base, was completed before the Zentraedi orbital bombardment of 2011. The Alaska Grand Canon dealt a powerful blow to the Zentraedi fleet, destroying hundreds of enemy ships, before it was disabled in the planetary assault.
Beam weapons were not the only systems created from Reflex Weapon technology. Through a fortuitous accident engineers aboard the SDF-1 discovered they could adapt the Reflex energy used for the Main Gun into a defensive energy shield to protect the ship during combat. This barrier system proved unstable when used to shield the entire ship but proved very effective in protecting smaller regions through a series of individual, movable shields. This system was referred to as the Pinboint Barrier System. Robotech engineers experimenting with other uses for Protculture-based energy systems also developed Reflex energy powered warheads for long range missle systems, which allowed a large destructive payload to be deployed from existing ground, ship, fighter and mecha-based launch systems.
The reconstruction and refit of ASS-1 took nearly a decade. Combining the surviving systems with rebuilt alien technology and existing and newly developed Earth technology, the ASS-1 was transformed from alien wreck into Earth's premiere space defense platform, the Super Dimension Fortress One, better known as the SDF-1. The SDF-1 was the testbed for much of the new Robotechnology. The arrival of he Zentraedi in 2009 forced the SDF-1 to launch prior to her systems being fully tested, leading to several near catastrophic failures. Firstly the ship's antigravity lift system, designed to raise the SDF-1 into orbit without the use of thrusters failed when the mountings for the units proved uable to take the strain and the antigravity lifts tore free from the ship's hull, forcing it to use more conventional thrusters to reach orbit. Then, when the SDF-1 attempted a space-fold maneuver to jump to lunar orbit to escape Zentraedi attack the jump was made while still too far within Earth's atmosphere. Instead of the Moon, the SDF-1 jumped all the way to Pluto at the edge of the solar system.Not only that, but the fold envelope had also taken a sizable chunk of ocean with it to Pluto, including Macross Island (and Macross City and its civilian populace who luckily had moved into environmentally sealed bunkers at the start of the Zentraedi attack.
Luckily the huge spacecraft had room enough to accomodate the refugees. In fact, large sections of Macross City were transferred into the ship's huge holds, creating a small city for the 60,000 refugees within the SDF-1 itself. An aircraft carrier and submersible landing craft (the Prometheus and Daedalus) had also been caught in the fold to Pluto and resourceful RDF engineers actually managed to attach the two vessels on the port and starboard of the SDF-1. The Prometheus became the primary launch bay for the SDF-1's Veritech squadrons while the Daedalus was used for a devastating anti-ship assault in tandem with the SDF-1's pinpoint barrier system. The most shocking consequence of the errant space-fold, however, was the disappearance of the Space Fold engine itself. Why the Fold Engine vanished and where it went are still a mystery, and the lack of space-fold capability forced the SDF-1 to return journey to Earth via more conventional propulsion.
The loss of the Fold Engine did have some side benefits, as it led to the development of the pinpoint barrier system. The loss also led to the discovery that the SDF-1 was re-configurable. Dr. Emil Lang found that several internal systems needed to be reconfigured in order to fire the Main Gun with the Fold Engine missing. He was somewhat surprised to find that the SDF-1 was in fact capable of transforming much as a Veritech did, changing its configuration to one that allowed the Main Gun to be fired. This configuration was dubbed the Attack Mode while the regular configuration was referred to as Cruiser mode. This capability appears to have been part of the original space vessels capabilities, though the reason for having this function is a mystery.
The SDF-1 was badly damaged during the battle with the Zentraedi armada and crashed-landed in North America. It became the center of the intial global recovery efforts and a New Macross City grew up around it. The SDF-1 was destroyed several years later in a suicide attack run by a rogue Zentraedi officer.
The SDF-2 is something of an enigma. After the Zentraedi planetary assault the surviving Unified World Government decided that in order to prevent an alien attack like that from happening again a mission should be sent out to the homeworld of the Robotech Masters, the rulers of the Zentraedi, to negotiate a truce. Since the SDF-1 was too badly damaged for this mission the Super Dimension Fortess Two was commissioned. Unfortunately the SDF-2 was destroyed before it could be completed, though a third vessel, the SDF-3 eventually did leave on the mission to contact the Robotech Masters. The mystery surrounding the SDF-2 concerns its exact nature. There is debate on whether the SDF-2 was a brand new vessel, or was actually the SDF-1 being extensively refitted. Between the huge veil of secrecy surrounding its construction and the chaos of the early Reconstruction period many of the details have been lost. The general hypothesis is somewhere in the middle, that it was a new vessel based on the SDF-1, but it was making use of several systems salvaged from the SDF-1. Since it is known that the SDF-2 was destroyed at the same time as the SDF-1, it seems to make sense that it was being constructed nearby, close enough to be caught in the area of effect of the renegade Zentraedi vessel's suicide run that destroyed the SDF-1.
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