(A)/USER/Browse/ ::: wiki-anmw.org/articles/intro-to-hyperspace-mechanics :::

Intro to Hyperspace Mechanics

Though we've known about hyperspace for over 200 years, it's only relatively recently that Terrestrial life has been capable of using it to travel. Several novel techniques are required to make hyperspace travel work, and new methods are being researched every day. This article will serve as an overview of hyperspace mechanics, without going into the finer details or mathematics.


Hyperspace is a spacial dimension parallel to our own in the fourth dimension. (Our own dimension is typically called "realspace", despite the fact that hyperspace is just as "real".) As three-dimensional life forms, it can be difficult to visualize fourth-dimensional space. Imagine that we live in a two-dimensional world, on a sheet of fabric. Hyperspace, then, is a sheet of fabric parallel to ours, and entering hyperspace is "hopping" from one fabric to the other in the third dimension.

The analogy of fabric will be useful to us in many ways, so continue to visualize the relationship between hyperspace and realspace in this way.

Hyperspace Engine

An engine propels a ship forwards. A hyperspace engine is much the same - the difference between a normal engine and a hyperspace engine is that the hyperspace engine propels a ship forwards in fourth-dimensional space. In our fabric analogy, a normal engine can only move along the fabric; a hyperspace engine is capable of pushing an object away from the fabric and onto another sheet. This is how ships are able to leave realspace and enter hyperspace.

Technique 1: Glider

The invention of the hyperspace engine led to the development of the first hyperspace travel technique. A glider ship is one which simply traverses hyperspace and then re-enters realspace. This is not, in fact, any faster than traversing realspace itself, at least not for most trips - like fabric, there are folds and distortions in realspace relative to hyperspace which can cut down on travel time, but the same can be said of hyperspace, which generally makes up the difference.

This was not truly the first hyperspace travel technique used on a full ship; gliding was originally used to simply send particles and small objects short distances, faster than the speed of light relative to realspace.

In order to take full advantage of the distorted geometry of hyperspace, there would need to be a way to control the way the fabric folds on itself.

Warp Drive

The warp drive can manipulate the shape of space time, relative to itself. The mathematics are complicated, but essentially, when a ship enters hyperspace, it appears as a flat sheet of fabric to them; the warp drive can then create folds and distortions in realspace, which are unnoticed by the observers occupying realspace. Then, the hyperspace engine returns the ship to realspace, having traveled much further in realspace than the travel distance in hyperspace.

Technique 2: Slipper

This is, essentially, what a slipper ship does - you can imagine it like a needle, folding up realspace and then punching through it to the other side. It's very effective at traveling in a straight line, but that's the only way it can travel.

Hyperanchor & Pathfinding

One issue with hyperspace travel is that it's not very safe. Several accidents occurred in the early days of hyperspace travel in which a ship's hyperspace engine would work well enough to enter hyperspace, but not return to realspace.

Due to these incidents, the hyperanchor was developed. This device is always intersecting with realspace, and "pulls" a ship back down if it ever loses connection to the hyperspace engine. However, this means that ships which use a hyperanchor must be careful to navigate around realspace obstacles, as the hyperanchor is capable of crashing into them at faster-than-light speeds, causing massive damage.

Additionally, several hyperspace crashes occurred during this time period, due to slippers accidentally setting intersecting paths, not knowing about the other ship. For this reason, a system for publicly broadcasting a ship's pathfinding - that is, the path it intends to take to reach a given destintaion - was developed. Until the early 2300s, it was not a requirement that ships broadcast their pathfinding, but now, it's a standard across the Andro-Milky galactic group.


While these techniques were being refined, there were still some issues. Though a slipper is very effective at traveling in a straight line, it's not a safe way to travel, and the introduction of a hyperanchor to a slipper ship will slow it down tremendously. What we needed was a way to allow a warp engine to modify its warping mid-flight, constantly, to navigate around obstacles and find the quickest route.

In fact, this method was possible since the invention of the slipper, but it was very complicated - a team of engineers, physicists and mathemeticians would have to be constantly calculating and working in perfect synchronization to make it work, and it was very impractical. It took a tremendous amount of mental energy to travel in this way, and it wasn't intuitive.

The solution, then, is to modify the brain. The psion-interface technique is a way to perform psychic surgery on a pilot, such that they gain an intuition for how to pilot a ship in this way without having to actually run the calculations in their own head. Imagine learning how to drive a car: You have to learn what the wheel does, the turn signal, all the different buttons and the gear shift - but eventually, you gain muscle memory for it, and can use all of these different parts without thinking. Since this method of piloting a ship is so complicated, it takes an unreasonably long time to gain muscle memory for it. Psion-interface essentially grafts the muscle memory onto the pilot's brain.

Technique 3: Jaunter

And so we come to the newest and most advanced technique, the jaunter. While very small ships (AAA-class passenger vehicles) are capable of jaunting without the use of psion-interface, most jaunters require a psion-interface pilot to work properly, since navigating hyperspace is too difficult otherwise. These ships manage to circumvent the conflict that slippers face - trading safety for speed - by navigating around realspace obstacles, changing the warp of realspace moment-to-moment. In other words, it's constantly changing the fold of the fabric, so that the hyperanchor doesn't collide with any obstacles and it can still create a very fast path.

The downside to a jaunter, other than it being difficult to pilot, is that a slipper with no hyperanchor is still faster when traveling in a straight line. For this reason, slippers are still used, albeit in ringways that allow them to travel in straight lines without obstacles. Despite this, the jaunter is still the most common type of ship in the Andro-Milky galactic group.

Hypothetical Technique: Clicker

A theoretically-possible technique still in development would allow a warp drive to dramatically fold hyperspace while it occupies realspace, then use the hyperspace engine to jump into hyperspace and allow it to unfold itself, carrying the ship incredibly far at the speed of warp. This could make a trip in hours that a jaunter would typically need several weeks for. However, this method seems to consume a tremendous amoutn of energy.