That's not an easy question. The short summary is that you probably won't ever want to bet on an HBK in a spaceship race, unless it's racing against a bigger HBK (EDIT: or an artificially slowed-down Gemini/Geminoid, I suppose). For current HBK designs, the speed tends to be inversely proportional to the width of the ship, though it's not really quite that simple. It makes a difference what proportion of the ship is taken up by the half-bakery chains, where gliders travel somewhere between c/6 and c/10 on average, and what proportion is mostly empty space where gliders can travel faster.HartmutHolzwart wrote:Just one question: How fast could HBK ships get?
The current speed and size record, (3,6)c/1165000, can be improved somewhat without changing the design, maybe to around (3/6)c/750000 (but I don't think anyone has really checked my math on that yet).
With significant changes I'm guessing that a period under 250K, and possibly even under 100K, might be achievable -- but that would need a much more complicated design, probably with multiple sets of slow salvos in the pipeline at the same time. In a multi-salvo system it's not clear that it would be trivial to keep Salvo #2 construction gliders from hitting Salvo #1, for example.
Parallel recipes and cheaper 180-degree turner recipes could also help cut things down. But it's not clear that the shortest possible HBK would look all that much different than the current ones... and it still wouldn't win any races against non-HBK spaceships.