Realistic Stealth in Space

There’s a space ship in the picture above. You’ll have to take my word for it.

You’ve heard it before: “Their ain’t no stealth in space.” 

It seems that some prominent SF bloggers have practically staked their reputation on the idea that there is no logically consistent way to make stealth in space possible.

Reading their posts, which will not be named, you may come to the conclusion that anyone who proposes stealth in space clearly has zero grasp of physics and is an idiot, to put it mildly.

On the face of it, they appear to have a good argument. Any spaceship needs a power source, power sources are very hot, and in order to stay cool enough not to melt they must vent their energy into outer space. Since outer space is very cold, and reactors and engines are very hot, any spaceship will be very obvious to infrared sensors. There is no way to get around this.

Except there is.

With two simple words I am about to blow through the paradigm and change the space stealth debate forever.

Remember, you heard it here first, on the Galactic Ferry Service. 

Ready? Here it comes.

Negative Energy.

That’s right, Negative Energy means that stealth in space is not only possible but very straight forward and plausible.


It just so happens that Negative Energy is the same stuff that is necessary for wormholes and warp drives. If you like warp drives, stealthy spaceships are just as plausible. Its as simple as that.

The sanctimonious arguments against stealth in space appeal to thermodynamics. According to thermodynamics, energy will flow from areas of high energy to areas of low energy. Imagine water flowing over a dam. Harness the falling water and you get power. All power generators, whether real or hypothetical, work in a similar way.

Since a spacecraft is hot and space is cold, energy (specifically the radiation that makes the spacecraft un-stealthy), flows from the spacecraft out into space. This energy flow is harnessed to power the spacecraft.

But what if a spacecraft was powered by negative energy? Well that is simple:

In a spacecraft powered by negative energy, thermodynamics dictates that energy will flow from space and into the spacecraft.

This energy will come from cosmic background radiation, the light of nearby stars, etc. The difference between the negative energy level inside the ship and the external energy level of the universe can be harnessed to power the ship.

The spacecraft will appear like a black hole.

It will be visible only by the radiation it eclipses. Instead of the spacecraft being the lake above the figurative dam, it is now the river below the dam.

But it gets better. 

You will already have installed some kind of small positive energy generator on board your spacecraft to keep the crew from freezing. As a result, you can simply use your negative energy source to balance the positive energy from the crew compartments and easily maintain the exterior of the spacecraft at 3K, the same temperature as the surrounding space. Add some optical technology to allow starlight to pass around the ship and now you are completely invisible.

While negative energy is a speculative element, it is one that is already central to much of SF.

Once again, remember that without negative energy, there can be no wormholes or warp drives.

Granted, certain people don’t think warp drives or any other actual “speculation” that goes beyond what has been already verified by modern physics is “Hard” SF. 

Such individuals may also heavily imply that any science fiction that isn’t sufficiently “Hard” is inferior science fiction. Actually, it isn’t “Science Fiction”, it is just “Science”.

While negative energy may be speculative, it doesn’t contradict modern physics. Like, seriously, it doesn’t. Not at all.

There is even a good chance that real negative energy will eventually be related to all that “dark energy” and “dark matter” stuff. Ya know, that mysterious stuff that makes up the majority of mass and energy in the universe.

So there you have it. Stealth in space is saved.

Perhaps you always suspected that there was a way to do stealth in space without breaking physics.

If so, congratulations, you were right.

How do you make a negative energy source? Well first off, you don’t need to make one yourself, they already come standard with every warp drive.


Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think of your newly stealthy space ships!


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