Technology 101 - The Hyperdrive

The Hyperdrive is the single most important technology on as starship. It is the device which makes a ship a SHIP.

The purpose of the hyperdrive is first and foremost to transition the ship from the baryonic realm into the tachyonic. In literal terms the hyperdrive does not actually move the ship at all, in either realm the ion drives or CRMS provide most of the actual motion.

Initiation
When a hyperdrive is operated a series of things happen in rapid succcession. First a 'GO' command is received by several (usually six, but potentially up to two dozen or more) seperate and duplicated software safety systems. As soon as all give a 'GO' command the hypermatter taps that penetrate into the SIR are released, and incandescent super-dense hypermatter is permitted to enter the drive vessel. The amount generally determines the range of the jump.

When the required amount of hypermatter is loaded additional reactant is fed into the drive vessel, usually from the fuel tanks, though theoretically almost any matter would do. The two elements are kept seperate briefly by a powerful pair of field generators which collapse simultaeneously allowing the agitated hypermatter to immolate the normal matter and a hyperjump occurs.

As hypermatter is faster than light but travels backwards in time, the field creation event occurs before the field creation order is given. This allows, amongst other peculiar things, a safety system to exist which can detect the approaching surface of a collapsing hyperenergy explosion centred on the ship and issue an ABORT code. This prevents the firing of the hyperdrive and forces the hyperenergy anti-time explosion to a quantum probability state of zero despite the existance of paradoxical linear temporal prior existance. This happens fairly often and is generally referred to as a hyperdrive stall.

Transition
If the event is successful, however, when the two energy states meet they undergo a controlled explosion and interface directly with each other forming a field of a size determined by the quantity of matter used. This field is the effect of the drive attempting to divest itself of energy in the only way it is possible - by imparting energy to all matter in its range. The hypermatter from the reactor core does this by inverting the spin of the baryonic particles that make up the ship (and everything in it) and forcing them to operate anti-temporally, (that is, they start to go back in time) whilst at the same time the normal matter forces the particles that make up the ship (and everything in it) to leap to a higher energy state and cease to be baryons, and instead become tachyons As a tachyonic particle travels backwards in time, and the particles have already been reversed in time, this results in a faster than light mass which goes forwards in time.

Hyperspeed
How fast one goes in hyperspace is determined by two factors:

1 - The quality of the hyperdrive generator - more energy released by the jump equates to a higher level of energy released and therefore higher maximum speed.
2 - The power of the ion drives which provide motive force whilst in the hyperspace realm.

Range
A Ship's maximum range is determined by the available hyperspeed plus the available fuel. The total energy required to jump a given distance is exponentially proportional, whilst the maximum energy needed to jump a ship is proportional to its size. Because of this, larger ships can jump farther than smaller ships as they are able to carry a lot more fuel.

Termination
The ship will drop out of hyperspace when certain conditions are met. Firstly when the fuel in the hyperdrive is extinguished, the absence of hyper-energised matter will reverse the effect and the ship will instantly drop to its normal state of energy. Thus the capacity of the hyperdrive determines the maximum range of a jump. Secondly the crew can simply cease fuel flow, this will stop the drive and return the ship to real space. Finally, in emergency situations a ship may divest itself of fuel prior to reaching its intended destination by venting the remaining hypermatter fuel mixture in the core out of the ship.

Side Effects
One of the earliest causes of drop outs in the few hyperspace study academies is an inability to cope with the temporal paradoxes inherrant to hyperspeed. Many a being has been driven mad by trying to comprehend these twisted realities.