For general information about speed in cellular automata, see Speed on LifeWiki.

The speed of light or c refers to a speed of one cell per generation, the fastest that any object or signal can travel in a cellular automaton. In Live Free or Die, most spaceships and puffers travel at the speed of light orthogonally, as does the chaotic expansion of nearly all random patterns. Because spaceships and puffers travel a whole number of cells in a whole number of generations, every possible speed they travel can be represented as a fraction of c.

A table of the smallest spaceships and puffers for each known speed is at the end of this article. The rest is a summary of the known spaceships and puffers for each speed.

c

In Live Free or Die, most spaceships and puffers, including all naturally occurring spaceships and puffers, travel orthogonally at c. All c spaceships and puffers have an engine with at least one nose and at least two wings. They occur in a wide variety of periods, including spaceships at p1, p2, p3, p4, p5, p6, and p8, and puffers at p2, p3, p4, p5, p6, p7, p8, p9, and p12, along with higher periods formed by interacting spaceships and puffers. Puffer and spaceship flotillas can also be built with arbitrarily high period 6 × 2n and 8 × 2n using freedom fighters and anchor tracks. The smallest spaceship in Live Free or Die is the p1 moon, with only four cells. Other naturally occurring c spaceships include the p4 key ship, plus ship, robot ship, and sun ship, the p6 free ship and hex ship, and the p8 octopus ship. Naturally occurring c puffers include the p4 dot puffer, double dot puffer, robot puffer, and sun puffer.

c/2

A wide variety of c/2 orthogonal spaceships have been discovered: the fruit fly ship, mouse ship, crab ship, zebra ship, rhino ship, wide rhino ship, fox ship, elephant ship, and Eppstein's slow ship at p4, the dust mite ship at p8, and the various unicorn ships, buffalo ships, hippo ships, and horned ships, all of which occur at both p4 and p8. The only known c/2 puffers are the buffalo rake, hippo rake, and horned rake, which are p4 clean backward moon rakes and can all be converted to spaceships using trailers. The buffalo bird is a small tagalong for a majority of the known c/2 spaceships and rakes.

2c/5

One 2c/5 orthogonal spaceship has been discovered: the p5 zirconium ship.

c/3

One c/3 orthogonal spaceship has been discovered: the p6 wasp ship.

c/4

One c/4 orthogonal spaceship has been discovered: the p4 beachcomber ship.

c/4 diagonal

The only known diagonal spaceships in Live Free or Die travel at c/4: the p4 giraffe ship, ram ship, and slanted ship.

c/5

Several c/5 orthogonal spaceships have been discovered, including the various p5 quintessential ships, the p5 hammerhead ship and the p10 decade ship, which is the only known p10 object. The only known c/5 rake or puffer is the p5 quintessential rake.

Smallest known spaceships, puffers, and rakes for each speed
Speed
Smallest known spaceship
Period
Minimum population
c
moon
1
4
c/2
dust mite ship
8
36
2c/5
zirconium ship
5
268
c/3
wasp ship
6
428
c/4
beachcomber ship
4
396
c/4 diagonal
ram ship
4
37
c/5
decade ship
10
114

Speed
Smallest known puffer
Period
Initial population
c
double dot puffer
4
5
c/2
buffalo rake
4
88
c/5
quintessential rake
5
130

Speed
Smallest known rake
Period
Initial population
c
pocket rake
4
32
c/2
buffalo rake
4
88
c/5
quintessential rake
5
130