FASTER-THAN LIGHT travel through space is achieved through a series of "JUMPS", inititated by a starship's "JUMP DRIVE".
Jump Drives generate a pocket of narya particles which temporarily shift a vessel into a hyperspacial dimension commonly known as "riftspace". The riftspace manifold is relative to, but dimensionally distinct from the space-time continuum. An object in riftspace acts as though the speed of light and gravitational constant of the universe were fluid and changeable. The result is that a vessel can travel at an unremarkable speed relative to riftspace, but appear to be travelling at many times the speed of light relative to the spacetime continuum. Technically speaking, the vessel is not moving "faster-than-light" because, as far as it is concerned, light is moving even faster.
Though a vessel travelling through riftspace is affected by spacetime, the vessel is effectively insubstantial and highly maleable. As a result , without precise calculations, a vessel can easily be smeared across space by any substantial gravitic mass (such as a star) - such a vessel would return to normal space as a cloud of dust or gas.
The calculations required for each jump can take minutes or hours, depending on the complexity of the jump. Jumping without properly calculating a course is tantamount to suicide. For safety and efficiency reasons, the standard practice is to calculate inter-stellar jumps from one system's edge to another, and then to calculate a second sub-system jump to reach the desired planet or station.
Sub-stellar travel is travel within a star system, between planets or to/from the system's edge. These jumps deal with a lot of gravity from asteroids, commets, planets and the system's star, adding to calculation time, but are usually very short distance
Inter-stellar travel is travel from one star system to another star system, generally through open space. There are generally very few gravatic bodies and forces that need to be factored in, so calculations for jumping can be quite quick but distance adds to the time considerably.
Jump Drives ExplainedEdit
In its solid form, an ice-cube can't get to the other side of a sponge, but if we melt it, it can filter through the gaps in the sponge's structure. Once through, the ice-cube can then be re-frozen into it's previous form.
Jump-drives change the structure of the spaceship so that it is able to pass through the gaps in space, aka "riftspace". But there's a problem. A re-frozen ice-cube will have had all of its molecules rearranged while in liquid form. That's alright for water, but bad news for a Starship and its crew. CD Page-BF.04.01
Stabilisers help to maintain a ship's basic structure while moving through riftspace. Stabiliser technology, though centuries old, is still in its infancy. They are the primary limitation on a ship's maximum jump speed and distance. There are many different approaches to stabiliser design, and they can vary considerably in appearance from one ship to another with some Starships employing wings while others use nacelles.
Larger stabilisers help a ship deal better with gravatic bodies, being more effecient at holding a ship's profile together, and can cut down on calculation time but the larger or more spread out they are the greater the profile of the ship that needs to be navigated through riftspace. Past a certain point, depending on the ship, they can actually add to calculation time rather than reduce it, although this depends on the number and strength of the gravatic bodies the ship will be facing as well. CD Page-BF.04.01
Variable Alignment StabilisersEdit
These give the advantage of being able to extend wide for faster calculations in sub-stellar travel, close to gravatic bodies, while staying in close for Inter-stellar travel over long distances where there are fewer gravatic bodies exerting any serious forces.
The other advantage is being able to bring the stabilisers in to decrease the profile of the ship and make it harder for guns to hit or simply easier to dock with stations or other ships.
Even with stabilisers, ships are still highly maleable and vulnerable to the effects of gravity: stars, planets, asteroids, etc. Therefore complicated calculations must take place before each jump. This ensures that the ship, and its crew, won't end up smeared across hundreds of kilometres of space as a cloud of dust. The four main things which increase the time it takes to calculate a jump are the profile/size of the ship, gravatic bodies (stars/suns and planets, etc), the distance of the jump, and the ratio between a ships stabilizers and its mass/profile. The last is implied as damage to a ship, particularly it's stabilisers, will also increase the time required for jump calculations. CD Page-BF.04.01
When a ship jumps into a system it produces a significant burst of energy, essentially an EMP. The exact nature of this burst depends on a variety of factors, such as the ship's size and mass and the configuration of its jump stabilisers. The burst is therefore distinct to each ship class, and has become known as a jump signature since it is possible to quickly identify an incoming ship's class if you have remote sensors rigged to scan for the right data. Ships which have undergone extensive modification, such as Niobe, will have a unique signature. This can be a pro and a con. It means that Niobe won't register as a Tantalus class Corvette, allowing for a degree of anonymity, but if someone knows Niobe's unique signature then they will be able to identify her immediately CD News-05.24. A cold restart can alter a ship's jump signature, likely resetting the configuration of the jumpdrive to a default state. CD Page-06.45
See main article on Jump Bridges
A Jump Bridge is a ship or station capable of safely transporting non-jump capable ships through riftspace.
The first successful test of Fast Than Light travel was conducted in the year 2124 and lead to new optimism about interstellar travel and colonisation but is was not until the year 2146 that Faster Than Light travel was finally certified as "Safe for human travel", and the I.S.E.A. announced a "new era of hope for humanity, as we finally embrace our destiny among the stars". Surveyors started using the technology to search nearby systems for planets that were suitable for colonisation.
Awaiting your theories
The Making of Jump Drives
It is stated that Jump Drives generate a pocket of narya particles. Narya was the Elven Ring of Power in the Lord of the Rings, worn by Gandalf: http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Narya