Hyperdrives are starship components that allow starships to enter hyperspace and travel vast distances at faster-than-light speeds. A ship in hyperspace cannot be tracked or communicated with by any other ship. Generally a ship can cross the galaxy (over 100,000 light years) in only a few days, but the travel time depends on the ship's Hyperdrive Class.
The pilot inputs commands via the navigational computer, which then commands the hyperdrive to begin the collection of aldus particles, once the drive has collected enough aldus particles to open a rift into hyperspace, it begins projecting the particles through one or more particle guides usually located on the bow of the ship. These particles, when concentrated in an area of space will tear a temporary hole in space which will collapse after a certain amount of matter has passed through it. The amount of matter the rift will accept depends on the amount of aldus particles collected, which is governed by the navigational computer. Once the rift is fully formed, the ship is rapidly drawn into hyperspace due to the gravitational differential between empty real space and the incredibly different realm that is hyperspace. Hyperspace rifts are invisible. People inside the ship see star streaks as the ship accelerates into the rift.
In order to prevent the crew, passengers, and cargo from being flattened during the massive acceleration involved in entering hyperspace inertial dampers are used, which negate the effects of acceleration.
Hyperspace is filled with a rather deadly radiation simply known as hyperspace radiation, so the ship must be protected by energy shields to prevent the organic materials (including people) from being liquefied by the intense radiation.
To prevent the relativistic passing of time, relativistic shielding is used, which keeps the objects on-board the ship "in-time" with the normal dimension of space.
To exit hyperspace the ship projects a surge of duatron particles which were collected while in hyperspace. duatron particles open a rift from hyperspace to normal space that will also only accept an amount of matter governed by how many particles were used to form the rift.
Hyperdrives were created by a Moyra physicist named Jesnor Tekab in GY 5,662. The first hyperdrive was incredibly crude by modern standards, barely capable of traveling faster-than-light, but Tekab's work in hyperspace theory paved the way for modern propulsion methods, which in turn allowed trade, interstellar alliances, and more regrettably; war. Without hyperdrives most species would still be stuck in their home systems.
Interference and InterdictionEdit
Hyperdrives can be interfered with if they encounter kylir radiation. This radiation is emitted by stars and black holes, but can also by artificially produced by a ship with a hyperspace interdiction projector installed. Kylir radiation is the only known substance that can pass between normal space and hyperspace without creating a rift.
If a ship encounters kylir radiation, it immediately drops out of hyperspace due to the radiation interfering with mass calculations, usually making the navigational computer think the ship has lost or gained mass so the ship drops out of hyperspace for safety reasons. If a ship is forced out of hyperspace by kylir radiation, the drive must be reset, which takes about 30 minutes on average.
Hyperdrives are given a speed class known as a "hyperdrive class". Hyperdrive classes are rated on a decreasing scale, the faster the drive, the lower the class.
Class 0.0 would be infinite speed - occupying every location in the universe at one time.
In GSY 10,875 most military ships are equipped with Class 1.0 or 2.0 drives, industrial ships usually have Class 3.0 or 4.0, and most civilian ships have Class 5.0. This is in no way definitive, but generally refers to stock hyperdrives.
The current fastest ship in the galaxy has a Class 0.6 hyperdrive. This limitation is not due to hyperdrive tech, as a Class 0.3 hyperdrive could be produced, but no known material can handle the velocity associated with that speed; the hull of the ship would simply be sheared off.
Hyperdrive malfunctions are rare, but do happen. Most of the time the problem is with exit coordinates, usually due to the navigational computer's starcharts not being updated with the latest star-fixes to account for stellar drift.
The worst-case scenario is the navigational computer miscalculating the ship's mass, causing the hyperspace rift to be too small. This generally results in the ship being destroyed.