The Jump Drive is a technology that opens a transition to jumpspace, which allows for Faster-than-light (FTL) travel, making space travel, exploration, and colonization vastly quicker and more efficient than pre-FTL NAFAL starship engines.
- It is a type of Interstellar Drive.
- It is sometimes known as the J-Drive or Star Drive.
- In engineering terminology, an engine or power plant produces energy, and a drive creates propulsion. In common language, the terms are used interchangeably.
- It is a kind of Ship Equipment.
- Speed of Travel
- Spacecraft Drives (Interplanetary Drives or Impulse Drives)
- Starship Drives (Interstellar Drives)
- Jump Drive Key Resources
- Jump Drive Lore
- 1 Description (Specifications)
- 2 History & Background (Dossier)
- 3 References & Contributors (Sources)
Jump technology enables a ship to transition into Jump Space and emerge some great distance away within a reasonable time [...effectively multiples of 170 times the speed of light over 168 hours (+/- 10%)]. Jump drive, and its many variations, makes interstellar flight practical. Those who do not discover the jump drive are condemned to snail-paced NAFAL movement between the stars. 
Ships in jump are isolated, and can not detect or communicate anything; they are totally isolated in a small bubble of jumpspace until they reemerge into our universe again. Even if two ships side by side (far enough apart to avoid field interference) jump at the same instant, they are totally alone. Cases of field overlap (interference) have been known to result in direction error, range error, system damage, or ship destruction, and is advised against.
A standard Imperial jump drive consists of four components:
- A high-yield fusion power plant
- An energy sink of zuchai crystals
- A jump governor
- A lanthanum-doped hull grid
Jump Drive Specifications
Jump Drive Specifications (Starship Propulsion) Category Specifications Remarks Name Jump Drive Only the six Major Races are believed to have independently developed FTL propulsion.
- Jump travel is not well understood.
- Most believe it to be a gravitic effect.
Drive Type Jump Space Traverse Jump Space, also known as (J-Space or Tau (τ)-Space), is not well understood. Velocity Multiples of Light Speed
- 170.0c (±20.0c jump variance)
One parsec (3.27 light-years or one Astrographic Hex) per week per drive rating. Duration Determinate (fixed)
- 168 hours (+/- 10%)
Hazards Misjumps can vary greatly in their effects.
- Some misjumps seem to involve chronotaxistic (time dilation) effects.
- Many misjumps involve unintended travel distances out of all proportion within J-6 limitations.
Minkowski (Special relativity) Four-dimensional travel (3 of space, 1 of time) known as Space-time.
- Not purely Euclidean in nature.
Geometry Hyperbolic (Lobachevsky) J-Space does not seem to be constrained by conventional space-time limitations. Levels 90+
- Please see: Jump Drive/meta
It is conjectured that higher Other-Space levels have tighter weaves.
- This is conjectured to allow exponentially faster travel.
- J-6 drives can only travel through the first six levels.
- It is hypothesized that J-9 drives will be feasible in the near future.
30 minutes to
24 hours estimated
Jump calculations can differ greatly depending on the skill of the astrogator, the quality of the astrogational computer & related astronics, and a variety of other factors. Entry Non-determinant (not fixed)
- (Non-gravitic space)
Entry into Jump Space has a (100 diameter constraint of a gravity well). Exit Non-determinant (not fixed)
- (Non-gravitic space)
Exit from Jump Space has a (100 diameter constraint of a gravity well). Fuel
- (Electrical energy)
Fusion Plus powerplants are used in most starships for electrical power generation.
- Higher rated jump drives require much larger fuel supplies.
- A basic rule of thumb is that a starship requires fuel storage equal to its rating as a percentage of mass.
- Thus, a J-6 equipped starship will require 60% of its mass in fuel while a J-1 only requires 10%.
- Collectors possible at TL-14+
- Antimatter conjectured to be available at TL-19+
Strategic resources vital to the manufacture of Jump Drives. Inventor/s Various Some have conjectured that the Ancients created the very first Jump Drive known to higher intelligent life (Sophonts) and Charted Space. Characteristics
- (No FTL communication possible)
- (No FTL weaponry possible)
Sophont minds seem to be required for efficient jump travel. Non-sophont-crewed starships seem to function far less reliably.
- Jump drive-equipped starships cannot be manufactured under 100 tons. This may change in the future.
- FTL weaponry does not exist with current TL-15 technology.
- Jump torpedos or drones (unmanned vehicles or weapons), under 100 tons, do not work with current TL-15 technology.
- FTL communications, often called the Ansible, are not possible with current TL-15 technology.
Jump Drive Travel Time Table
Jump Drive (FTL) Estimated Travel Times Distance: Jump-1 Jump-2 Jump-3 Jump-4 Jump-5 Jump-6 54 parsecs
Jump Drive Travel Time Constants # Note Remarks 1. Jump Duration: 1 week (168 hours +/- 10% variance) 2. Jump Velocity: 170.0c (+/- 20.0c variance) 3. Month (Time): 4 weeks (28 days by Imperial calendar) 4. Assumptions: (Top efficiency, near-instantaneous refueling, no crew fatigue, etc.) 5. Sector (Area): (size of a sector in 2D parsecs x & y coordinates) 6. Galaxy (Area): Milky Way Galaxy (estimated 55 kiloparsecs in diameter) (…over 1,000 years at J-1)
Jump Drive Notes
A number of lesser facts about jump drives are noted here:
Jump Drive Notes # Note Remarks 1. Alternate Energy Sources: There are two other sources of energy sufficient to power the jump drive: Collectors, a TL–14 technology, which can power the jump drive but not the rest of a ship's systems; and Antimatter power plants, a TL–19 technology. Antimatter power plants use antimatter as a fuel source, while Collectors are charged by opening their canopies to space for about one week. 2. Fuel Requirements: Starships must generate immense amounts of power to jump; usually, this power is supplied by the standard ship's power plant. In this case, additional fuel must be allocated for employment of the jump drive, at the rate of 10% of the ship's tonnage per parsec to travel via jump. 3. J-7 Drive and Up: Jump-7 drives are a TL–16 and TL–17 technology; the pre-Maghiz Darrians had some J-7 ships. Jump-8 is theoretically possible at TL–18, and Jump-9 at TL–19. 4. Strategic Resource: Lanthanum Most conventional jump drives rely on the rare earth element Lanthanum.
- Please see Lanthanum for more information.
5. Misjumps: Study of misjump reports suggests that much greater distances are possible, but at present no way to achieve them in a controllable way is known. Research is ongoing concerning the matter. The maximum misjump reported is 36 parsecs. The average misjump is approximately 12.25 parsecs, deduced from the study of statistical records. 6. Travel Duration: Every ship stays in jump for around one week before entering normal space again. 7. Travel Range: The distance traveled during this time depends on the jump rating of the drive. A ship with a Jump-1 Drive will travel one parsec, a ship with a Jump-2 Drive two parsecs and so on. The maximum jump rating at the attainable tech level of the Third Imperium is six parsecs at J-6 and TL-15.
History & Background (Dossier)
The Jump Drive was first discovered by the Ancients more than 300,000 years ago. With it they explored the greater part of Charted Space. At the conclusion of the Final War, the Ancients' jump technology was lost, although intact (damaged) artifacts were found later on, and reverse-engineered to create jump drives of a more primitive nature than their source technology.
- Please see Jump Drive History for more information.
Jump distances are calculated in parsecs (3.27 light-years), which therefore is the scale of a subsector mapping grid. Jump-1, for example, indicates the ability to jump up to one parsec, or one mapping hex. Astrogational maps are based on this fact and are not accurately scaled maps for astronomical purposes.
- Please see Astrography for a related data.
Extremely talented astrogators can make a reasonably accurate guess as to the destination of a jumping ship if it is observed before jumping. This is based on observation of neutrino emissions and the shape of the inflating hydrogen bubble as well as the heading at the time of jump. What is true is that starships maintain the same general heading, attitude, and velocity at the time of egress from jumpspace as it had upon entry.
Most civilian starships have a jump rating of 1 or 2, with rare vessels equipped for express work carrying systems capable of 3 or 4; such ships operate for premium fees on long routes where speed is of the essence. Long routes tolerating longer delivery times use the usual jump1, but additional tankage to permit crossing rifts or voids to other lucrative destinations.
- in the 3rd Imperium it is so uncommon for a civilian ship to mount J-5 or J-6 that it draws the attention of Imperial authority as a curiosity worthy of review, if not close monitoring.
Jump Travel Risks
General Risks: Although jumps are usually entered at low velocities, the speed and direction which a ship held prior to jump is retained when it returns to normal space. This fact is often employed for tactical purposes. Ships exiting jump space are vulnerable to collision with objects around an exit point. It is not a safe practice, as the emergence point tends to have other ships approaching it for intended use; therefore emergence at speed is known to have resulted in fatal mishaps, and is therefore a serious violation of civil navigation codes with stiff penalties.
Jump Point Defenses: It is not a safe practice, as the emergence point tends to have other ships approaching it for intended use; therefore emergence at speed is known to have resulted in fatal mishaps, and is therefore a serious violation of civil navigation codes with stiff penalties. These do not apply to the Navy of course... who tend to place obstacles around possessed jump points with exactly this sort of thing in mind.
Manoeuvre Whilst in Jump
A ship may change it's vector and velocity while in Jump Space.
- Gravity: Jump Space bubbles do not allow interaction with Gravity and thus gravity based systems such as M-Drive are unusable while in Jump Space.
- Vector Change: Nongravity based manoeuvre drives are effective within Jump Space and thus may allow changes to vector and velocity.
Since a jump is 168 hours + Flux a zero distance jump may allow you to accelerate the entire time in a selected direction. With a 1g acceleration a max speed in excess 5931061.92 m/s can be achieved from a 0m/s start (2% of the speed of light!). Of course without using the efficient manoeuvre drives this is an unlikely outcome.
Technological Overview of Projected Propulsion Technology
- Relativistic Drive (NAFAL) → Jump Drive → Hop Drive → Skip Drive → Leap Drive → Bound Drive → Vault Drive → Six Drive → Seven Drive → Eight Drive → Nine Drive
References & Contributors (Sources)
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- Loren Wiseman. "Jumpspace." Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society 24 (1985): 34-38.
- Marc Miller. Referee's Manual (Game Designers Workshop, 1987), 52.
- John B. King. Jumpspace 2 (Starlance Publications, 1987), TBD.
- Rob Caswell, William W. Connors, Joe Fugate, Gary L. Thomas. Starship Operator's Manual (Digest Group Publications, 1988), 10-24.
- Loren Wiseman. "Going Places (Barely)." Challenge 55 (1991): TBD.
- Don Perrin. Starships (Imperium Games, 1996), 70.
- Loren Wiseman. GURPS Traveller Core Rules (Steve Jackson Games, 1998), TBD.
- Marc Miller. T5 Core Rules (Far Future Enterprises, 2013), 333-341.
- Marc Miller. Agent of the Imperium (Far Future Enterprises, 2015), TBD.
- Traveller Wiki Editorial Team
- Author & Contributor: WHULorigan
- Author & Contributor: Lord (Marquis) and Master of Sophontology Maksim-Smelchak of the Ministry of Science