The Hyperdrive is a technology which allows ships to travel at incredible speeds within star systems with supercruise and at superluminal speeds between star systems through Hyperspace. The most significant hyperdrives in history are the Quirium Drive, the Type 2b Drive and the Frame Shift Drive.
The first hyperdrive was reverse engineered from numerous Thargoid ships that were captured by the Galactic Cooperative during the INRA-Thargoid war. At the INRA base Almeida Landing, the research team of the engineer Effie Ratling figured out how Thargoid hyperdrives worked to create stable wormholes. This was different than human drives which shifted space around a ship. She created a prototype hybrid drive. When she handed in her report INRA took over and made modifications to the hybrid drive to get it to the test-flight stage. Ratling was only kept as a consultant.
During the first test flight, the wormhole was stable, but Effie Ratling voiced concern about whether a human being would survive going through it. The pilot died when he returned from the wormhole. His body was turned inside out, but the ship was unscathed. INRA launched an investigation, blamed Ratling for the accident and canceled the project. However, INRA carried on testing it in secret until the first hyperdrive was complete.
In 3125 AD the original hyperdrive was powered by a fuel known as Quirium. It's a high energy density material that was produced by the Galactic Cooperative (GalCop). They closely guarded the secret formula of how to produce it. Most Quirium based hyperdrives had a limited jump range, but some people were able to engineer drives to jump across the galaxy or even to other galaxies.
The secret formula was lost when GalCop dissolved on August 19, 3174. The hyperspace industry suffered a major setback. For the next 100 years faster than light travel (FTL) was done using more primitive and slower methods.
Type 2b Drive
Between 3174 and 3270, a number of different drives strove to fill the void left by the quirium drives. The Type 2b proved to be most popular. It was slower than the Quirium Drive and had a shorter jump range. The downside was that ships equipped with a Type 2b drive left behind a hyperspace 'cloud' at their entry and exit points, making it too easy for malcontents to track and ambush these vessels.
Frame Shift Drive
After the collapse of GalCop, the hyperdrive technology became the possession of the Alliance. By the 3270s, the Alliance was able to reverse-engineer Thargoid technology to produce the Frame Shift Drive. This new hyperspace system emerged in the late 3290s. It immediately rendered the Type 2b obsolete. Jump times were reduced to mere seconds, as they had been with quirium drives, without any loss in jump range. Journeys that were considered unfeasible were now within the realms of possibility.