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Here is a good "Official" comparison of FTL travel in the Sci-Fi worlds:


Battlestar Galactica (BSG)

The FTL, or "Faster Than Light", drive is a propulsion technology that allows spaceships to achieve superluminal travel. It functions along the basic principles of a jump drive, with a ship disappearing from its initial location and reappearing instantaneously in a new location.

In the miniseries (2003), some crewmembers are shown reacting with nausea and/or vertigo when undergoing a jump, though no harm appears to come to living beings even after many jumps. Making a jump eventually proves damaging to the ship's armor and structure in later episodes, after several years of continual combat and metal fatigue have taken their toll on the elderly ship. An FTL jump can be executed in the gravity well of a planet (indeed, Galactica jumps in and out of a planet's atmosphere in the episode "Exodus, Part II"). Nonetheless, it is preferred not to jump too close to a planet, not necessarily because of any physical limitations, but because if the coordinates are calculated wrong there is a risk that a ship might jump too close to the planet and crash into it, or reappear within the planet (This happens to a Raptor in the episode "Lay Down Your Burdens"). Further, a BSG FTL drive can theoretically travel anywhere in the galaxy; the limiting factor is not the drive itself, but the finite distance that the navigation computer is able to safely calculate a jump trajectory; more advanced computers are able to calculate longer range jumps (e.g. the Cylons have better computers and have an effective jump range at least three times that of the Colonials). The extreme distance that a safe jump can be plotted is called "the Red Line", and while a vessel might jump a theoretically infinite distance beyond that, it is possible the vessel could end up jumping inside a star, asteroid, or other space debris.[2]

Star Trek

The Star Trek (first broadcast 1966) universe equivalent of hyperspace is known as subspace. Although similar in concept to hyperspace, subspace plays a slightly different role in FTL travel. Subspace exists in layers, all of which are "below" normal three-dimensional spacetime much like the different layers of a cake. When a starship is traveling at FTL speeds (commonly known as "warp" in the Star Trek universe), the ship itself does not enter subspace. Instead, the ship either reacts a steady stream of deuterium and anti-deuterium together, or else taps the massive energy of an artificial quantum singularity in order to power large subspace field-generating coils ("warp engines"). The field (known as a warp field) extends into subspace, allowing the enclosed starship to travel at FTL speeds while it remains within a "pocket" of normal spacetime (similar in concept to a 20th century hydrofoil) and it is this pocket of normal space itself which travels faster than light, as the ship sits safely inside the pocket. Wrapping a spaceship within the warp field prevents the relativistic time dilation normally associated with standard FTL travel, and allows interstellar travel to continue in a reasonable amount of time. Despite warp drive's incredible speed compared to current day travel speed, it can still take years to travel across a mere fraction of the galaxy, around a year per 1000 light years.

This concept of FTL travel is asymptotically limited by the idea that if the warp field is too strong, the ship itself will be too deeply submerged in subspace, which has negative genetic effects on living things. In addition, at high warp factors the energy required to sustain the field grows exponentially.

Among the uses of subspace in Star Trek is as a medium for propagating audio and visual signals at FTL speeds, thus allowing nearly instantaneous communication across vast interstellar distances. This is commonly referred to in the Star Trek world as "subspace communication".

Star Wars

The role-playing video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003) gives one of the more substantial explanations of how hyperspace travel works in the Star Wars universe. There are established safe hyperspace routes that were scouted out by an unknown species 50,000 years prior to the events in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977). These routes made interstellar trade and eventually the establishment of the Republic possible. New routes are almost never scouted out, mostly because the end coordinates might place the traveling ship inside some star or planet. For example, the Deep Core Systems are especially hard to navigate because of the high density of stars. A pilot's skill in hyperspace has a lot to do with how he or she navigates the tangled web of hyperspace routes that criss-cross the galaxy.

According to George Lucas, that is why Han Solo brags about the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs when a parsec is a measure of distance rather than time: apparently, his real gift is as a navigator (although in the Star Wars IV: A New Hope novel by Lucas (1975), Solo says "she made the Kessel run in less than twelve Standard Time measures"). This appears to make no sense within the context of the original dialogue, however, as Solo's statement about the Falcon making the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs was in response to Obi-Wan Kenobi saying, "If it's a fast ship." However, to get to Kessel, a ship must pass near The Maw, an incredibly dense cluster of black holes. To achieve a shorter distance, the ship must be moving faster, to skirt the edge of a black hole without being sucked in.[citation needed]

Traveling through hyperspace requires the aid of either an astromech droid (such as R2-D2 or R4-P9) or a navicomputer (navigational computer), although Jedi are sometimes reputed to be able to travel through hyperspace without reference to navicomputers, astromech droids, or existing known routes. Traveling through hyperspace is also apparently quite complex as Han Solo tells Luke that "It ain't like dustin' crops, boy."

In any case, hyperspace is an extremely fast method of travel, as Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker's journey from Tatooine to Alderaan is theorized to have only taken two days maximum, whereas these two planets are separated by half a galaxy or more. Darth Maul took approximately seven hours to travel from Coruscant to Tatooine. The movies, as well as multiple Expanded Universe sources, show hyperspace as having a mottled, blue-and-black appearance. An entry into hyperspace shows the stars stretch into starlines, then turn into the mottled appearance. Externally, a ship entering hyperspace is described in Timothy Zahn's novels as displaying a "...flicker of pseudomotion..." before disappearing. Like the above-mentioned Star Trek series, "holocomm" transmissions are featured in Star Wars as long-range, faster-than-light communications signals, sent through hyperspace.

The hyperspace speed of a ship is represented by "class," an arbitrary and abstract measure. Lower numbers indicate proportionally lower travel time, and thus higher speed. For instance, an X-Wing is class 1. The Death Star is class 3, which means it can travel through hyperspace only one-third as fast as the X-Wing. A more standard capital ship such as a Star Destroyer may clock in at class 2, and a civilian bulk freighter at class 4. Very fast ships, with class lower than 1, are relatively rare; the remarkably speedy Millennium Falcon is class 0.5, or twice as fast as the X-Wing. The Ebon Hawk, the primary ship used in the Knights of the Old Republic series, is said to be the fastest in the galaxy, 4000 years prior to the rise of the Empire. However, at that time, hyperdrive technology was not as well-developed; a class 1 hyperdrive, the Ebon Hawk′s class, was considered extremely fast. It is stated that it is the only ship capable of breaking the Sith-blockade of the planet Taris (although that may be interpreted as the only ship that was capable and also located on Taris at the time of the blockade). Similarly, the Ebon Hawk was used for smuggling prior to the events of the games, just as the Millennium Falcon.


In the Stargate universe (1994–2011), most spaceships are equipped with hyperdrives that open up a window to hyperspace. Different races have hyperdrives of varying speeds; a hyperdrive constructed by the Alterans (Ancients), or by the Asgard would be significantly faster than a Goa'uld hyperdrive. There are two types of hyperdrives: interstellar, which only allows the ship using that hyperdrive to travel between stars in one galaxy in relatively expedient manner, and intergalactic, which allows the ship using it to travel greater distances and at greater speed. The only races shown to use intergalactic hyperdrives are the Tau'ri (through Asgard hyperdrive engines, for example on the USS Daedalus), the Asgard, the Ancients/Alterans (most notably Atlantis), the Asuran human-form Replicators, the Milky Way human-form replicators and the Ori.

Most hyperdrives use the fictional substance of Naquadah as fuel. Some, including certain Earth vessels, use the highly unstable, but more powerful isotope of Naquadriah instead. Ancient hyperdrives are powered by one or more ZPMs, whereas the Asgard hyperdrive engines use a variety of power sources.

Unlike hyperdrives used in other universes, hyperspace travel in Stargate does not interact with any matter in real space. Therefore, it allows ships to pass straight through any object (but not large space-time distortions, such as black holes) in its path. This has been used in numerous escape scenarios throughout the series. The speed of the hyperdrive can be increased by increasing its power by an external or internal source, or by modifying it manually.

When the Daedalus is powered by its Asgard Hyperdrive, it takes 18 days to travel to Atlantis in the Pegasus galaxy; however, when the engineers rigged the Zero Point Module (ZPM) sent for Atlantis' Ancient shield into the system, it took only 4 days. Earth's Daedalus-class battle cruiser the Odyssey is mentioned to have its own permanent ZPM during the war against the Ori, although it is unknown if the ZPM is sent to Atlantis following the Ori's eventual defeat.

Several ships can be encompassed in one hyperspace window by expanding the window but it takes a lot more power than usual, it is also possible to land a ship on one that is entering the hyperspace window and travel alongside. This previous is not a problem if someone can install a ZPM, because a fully charged module can procure massive amounts of energy. It has been shown that it's possible to open a hyperspace window in a planet's atmosphere, but it seems to distort space around it.

Each species's hyperdrives works on a unique "frequency", which is how the Attero device specifically targets Wraith ships while their hyperdrives are active.

Hyperspace also has a type of "Hyperspace Radiation" which all Wraith ships suffer damage from and as a result must exit out of hyperspace every once in a while to allow their organic ships to heal from the hyperspace radiation damage.

In order to reach the full potential speed of their hyperdrive, the Asgard must shunt all power away from shields and weapons. When using the full potential of their hyperdrives, the Asgard can move from one galaxy to another in under two minutes.

The Ancient Ship Destiny uses a different method of Faster-Than-Light propulsion, simply named FTL. Much of its workings have yet to be explained. Destiny's drives, once engaged, must remain active for a minimum of four hours and remain inactive for a minimum of three to prevent damage to the drives. This same method of FTL is used of both the Ancient Seed Ships seen in Stargate Universe, and the Alteran city ship seen in Stargate: The Ark of Truth.

Besides hyperspace travel, there is, of course, wormhole travel through the stargates that give the series its name.

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