Trope-a-Day: Force-Field Door

Force-Field Door: Not generally used, since sensible engineers and architects by and large put doors there for a reason, and prefer it when the doors do not vanish as soon as the power goes out. Even less used as airlocks or spacetight doors, since it’s even more embarrassing when you lose your entire starship’s air supply when the power goes out…

…well, okay. Some ships and stations do use kinetic barriers across bay entrances to make it easier to maneuver things in and out without having to (expensively/slowly) depressurize the entire bay, or leave it depressurized all the time and thus require everyone working in the bay to wear vacuum suits all the time. However:

  1. They are not used as a substitute for regular bay doors, which exist because while you can set the barrier strength such that the modal molecule will lack the KE to penetrate, the statistical distribution of molecular KE still means a kinetic barrier any less solid than actual matter is effectively a continuous slow leak. Caveat life support engineer, and hence you fit actual bay doors to close when you aren’t needing to get stuff in and out through the barrier; and
  2. Said bay doors are fitted with fail-safe automatic high-speed closers, because when the power goes out, you don’t want to lose any more than you have to, especially since the escaping air may take other things with it; and
  3. The doors between the rest of the starship and the bay are airlocks, because a kinetic barrier or anything else power-dependent should not be considered a reliable pressure boundary; and
  4. Anyone working in the bay will keep their emergency breathers close to hand.


The current standard for docking adapters in Imperial space, suitable for both docking and berthing, is defined by IOSS 52114, the Imperial Universal Starship Interface (IUSI).

The standard defines androgynous docking adapters in three standard sizes (IUSI-C/crawlspace, IUSI-P/gangway, and IUSI-F/freight container), in both standard (containing a transfer passage and data interface capability) and extended (containing additionally power and utility transfer connections) formats. These adapters are specifically designed to operate with Imperial-standard airlocks (per IOSS 51008) but can be fitted over any of a wide variety of airlock and/or spacetight door standards.

Standard and extended adapters are mutually compatible, with the redundant connections on the extended adapter fitting into sealing caps on the standard adapter. While adapters of differing sizes cannot directly connect, collapsible connection modules for this purpose are available at many starports or compilable from freely-available recipes.

While IOSS 52114-compliant docking adapters are commonly used in most polities throughout the Worlds, in selected regions and on the fringes non-compliant docking adapters are found in use. For this situation, IOSS 52114 also defines the IUSI-NC universal adapter, consisting of an inflatable tunnel with an IUSI-compatible adapter at one end, and an open end coated with a nanotechnological bonding compound capable of adhering to all commonly used hull materials, releasing upon mesh command without altering the attachment surface. The IUSI-NC can be installed during an extravehicular activity when pressurized transfers are required.

– The Starship Handbook, 155th ed.