Good posts, thanks for the comments!
two notes on the drive:
1. the gravity gradients created are fairly short range, barely reaching the "power rings" of the ship. This is one of the reasons they used a push/pull arrangement, to reduce stress on the ship. The bulk of the ship is in flat space.
hmmmm, just noticed a flaw in my architecture. Why not just have a unit push from the back? why is the pull unit there? I know why I put it there for the FTL application, but why would these researchers be using 2 units in a push/pull arrangement just for testing of normal space applications?
2. What was a going to say? arggh, lost my train of thought. Oh well, will think on it and post more later.
p.s. is it "fan fiction" if the setting is original? or is it the "Next Great Novel" waiting to be written?