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Imperial Courier prepares to enter hyperspace

Hyperspace, colloquially known as Witch-space, is a higher-dimensional region through which ships can travel between star systems at superluminal speeds. Only ships fitted with a hyperdrive are able to initiate hyperspace jumps on their own. In the 34th century, the most prevalent hyperdrive design in use among human civilisation is the Frame Shift Drive (FSD).

Hyperspace jumps rely on the properties of quantum mechanics. Before a jump can be made, the destination must be selected, and a sufficient amount of Hydrogen Fuel or Tritium must be injected into the FSD. The type and quantity of fuel required depends on the ship's mass, the distance to the destination, and the specifications of the ship's FSD. Although hyperspace travel using the FSD is brief, straightforward, and generally safe, hyperdictions by Thargoid vessels have presented a growing hazard in recent years.


Fer-de-Lance in Witch-space

Early hyperspace travel

The 22nd century saw early pioneering projects begin to take shape. The discovery of a workable hyperspace theory and the design of the first rudimentary "faster than light" drive by Li Qin Jao opened the possibility of exploration and settlement. A new frontier of science and engineering opened, confirmed by the first detailed messages and system scans to be received back to Earth from an interstellar probe sent to the Tau Ceti system years earlier. This led to a corporate race-for-the-stars as massive colony projects were founded, funded, built and launched, together with hundreds of automated probes sent to all the nearby systems.[1]

Noted historian Sima Kalhana discusses the development of the hyperdrive:

"Hyperspace technology originated in the early 22nd Century, but it wasn't until the 2800s that consumer ships began to take advantage of it."[2]

"The first commercially available hyperspace system was known as the "Faraway Jump". The Faraway system was far from perfect, however, depending on a complex network of monitoring satellites, branch lines, stop points and rescue stations – which took hundreds of years to establish – to operate smoothly."[2]

"It was around this time the phrase 'witch-space' first appeared, reflecting the inherent dangers of early hyperspace technology and the strange 'corridor' a ship travelled through during a hyperspace jump. Some even believed witch-space was haunted by 'ghosts of ships that went into Faraway and didn't come out again'. It is certainly true that a number of ships never reached their destinations."[2]

"The original hyperdrives were powered by a fuel known as quirium, the formula for which was a closely guarded secret. When this formula was lost, the hyperspace industry suffered a major setback. A number of different drives strove to fill the void left by the quirium drives, but it was the Type 2b that proved most popular. Unfortunately, ships equipped with a 2b left behind a hyperspace 'cloud' at their entry and exit points, making it all too easy for malcontents to track and ambush these vessels."[2]

"In the late 3290s, a new hyperspace system emerged that 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 had hitherto been considered unfeasible were now within the realms of possibility."[2]

"Even today, hyperspace remains poorly understood. Many pilots have reported glimpsing inexplicable lights, and even structures, within the witch-space tunnels. It may be centuries before all of its mysteries are unravelled."[2]

Capital Ships

Majestic-Class Interdictor emerges from Witch-space

Capital Ships such as the Farragut-Class Battle Cruiser, Majestic-Class Interdictor, and Drake-Class Carrier also use Frame Shift Drives, but their increased mass results in proportionally larger energy requirements that dwarf the already significant energy consumed by regular ships upon jumping. This increased energy results in capital ships jumping into and exiting from hyperspace in a much more spectacular fashion.[3] Unlike the Frame Shift Drives installed in smaller ships that consume Hydrogen Fuel, Capital Ship Frame Shift Drives require Tritium.[4]

In the process of jumping, the capital ship essentially tears open a wormhole into hyperspace, allowing elements of witch-space to leak out into our universe as exemplified by the strange particle effects and audio observed during a capital-class jump.[5] When a capital ship exits hyperspace, a series of lights can be seen moving against the backdrop of space. Space crackles behind the points of light, darkness writhes and lightning flashes.[6]

Thargoid Wormhole

Thargoid Interceptor Witch Space Wormhole

Thargoids use stable wormholes to enter and exit hyperspace. Thargoid vessels such as the Thargoid Interceptor can be observed to deploy a type of green beam to create a wormhole. Rarely does a wormhole remain open after a Thargoid passes through, however, making it impossible for a human ship to enter it, as the ship will simply bounce back.[7]

The INRA engineer Effie Ratling led research into reverse-engineering the Thargoid technology. She created a prototype hybrid hyperdrive and noted that Thargoid drives worked differently than human drives which shifted space around a ship. INRA took over the project, made modifications, and tested it with human pilots.[7]


Ship enters hyperspace

A hyperspace jump requires precise calculations with quantum mechanics and a discrete amount of energy. A misjump can be disastrous. For example when a ship emerges from hyperspace after a misjump, the pilot's body is turned inside out.[8]


Sidewinder in hyperspace

Please Note: The following is taken directly from the Design Decision Forum and will need to be checked and amended as elements are implemented into current gameplay. Also note that misjumps have yet to be implemented.

Before the player can initiate a hyperspace jump they must set the final destination of the journey:

  • The player selects a destination using the galaxy map navigation interface
  • The jump range is hard-limited by several factors:
    • The amount of fuel available determines if a jump is possible
    • The basic jump range of the ship’s hyperdrive, determines the distance of each step of the trip
      • Different hyperdrives have different capabilities
        • Jump range
        • Fuel efficiency
        • Charge time
        • Mass
      • Hyperdrives can be replaced with better models to increase capabilities
    • Jump locations available to their star map determine the route of the trip
    • The total mass affects the jump range, this can be affected by:
      • The mass of the modules
      • Cargo
      • Fuel
  • The player may also have access to additional information that could inform their decisions:
    • Activity heat maps for trade, piracy, conflicts etc.
    • Hyperspace tracking/prediction devices to monitor local ship activity (not currently implemented)
  • A hyperspace journey may comprise of a number of jumps depending on the distance travelled
  • Changing between economic and fastest filter as well as cargo mass affects the route planner
  • Once a destination has been input, the hyperdrive can be engaged

Once a journey has been set, the player can engage the hyperdrive:

  • When the hyperdrive is engaged it begins to draw power from the ship’s power plant until it is fully charged:
    • The hyperdrive cannot be initiated if its power draw would make the total power draw of the ship exceed the ship’s power plant capacity
      • The player can turn off other powered systems to free up capacity for the hyperdrive
    • The hyperdrive cannot be initiated when the ship is too close to a celestial body or large man-made structure; the ship must use in-system travel to reach a minimum jump distance (as implemented ship must not be mass locked)
    • To create a safe transit the hyperdrive must perform real-time changes based on ship’s power draw; changes to the ship’s total power draw (up or down) slow the charge rate by a percentage value for a duration
      • The percentage value and duration is based on the quality of the hyperdrive
    • The hyperdrive is sensitive to interference caused by incoming attacks; when an attack impacts on the hull or shields, the hyperdrive’s charge rate is slowed by a percentage value for a duration
      • This effect cannot stack with itself
      • The percentage value and duration is based on the quality of the hyperdrive
    • A hyperdrive module that has suffered damage may suffer a malfunction when initiated
      • The charge rate may be impaired
        • The percentage value and duration is based on the severity of the malfunction
      • The hyperdrive may misfire, becoming inoperable for a short duration whilst it runs diagnostics, after which it can be initiated again
      • The charging process may generate extra heat
    • While charging, the hyperdrive generates heat
  • Once the hyperdrive is fully charged it activates:
    • The appropriate amount of fuel is removed
    • The drive discharges all power
    • The ship enters hyperspace
    • Time-based effects (charging shields etc.) continue as normal during a hyperspace transition
    • A residual opening is left, which dissipates over a duration (up to minutes)
  • After a delay (a few seconds) the ship exits hyperspace at the destination area
    • The player has to engage the hyperdrive again to continue the journey

There are actions that players can take which directly interact with hyperspace jumps:

  • Players that have become Allies (an explicit in game selection of a "friends" flag) can slave their ships together and jump as a single entity
    • All ships involved must fully charge their hyperdrive before the jump is initiated
    • If any of the ships suffers a misjump, all ships misjump together
    • Each slave jumping ship must remain within a set range to at least one other slave ship
      • If this distance link is broken, the jump is aborted for all slaved ships
    • For each additional slaved ship the chance of a malfunction causing a misjump is lowered
    • Ally groups enable the strongest match-making rules, prioritizing the integrity of the group over match ups with other players if it would result in splitting the allies group
  • Using a Frame Shift Wake Scanner a residual opening can be analyzed to determine the exit point of the hyperspace jump
    • This analysis takes an amount of time
    • It takes at least as long as the time window for tailgating (so you can’t do both)
    • It must fully complete before the residual opening dissipates to give a result
  • Ships can target a residual opening and attempt to “tailgate” after the ship that jumped
    • The tailgater must be in close proximity to the residual opening and activate the hyperdrive
      • The time window for tailgating is a fraction of residual opening’s total existence time
      • There is a significant reduction in charge time for tailgating
      • Fuel is expended for the jump as normal
      • The tailgater suffers an amount of hull/module damage during the jump based on how close the residual opening is to dissipating
      • If successful, the tailgater appears very close to arrival point of the tailgated vessel
  • Special ship modules exist that when active can give brief forewarning of ships about to arrive nearby at a location (not implemented)


  • The hyperspace travel animation was changed slightly with the implementation of the 2.2 update. Graphics were improved, and the star of the destination system for a jump now appears at the far end of the corridor and brightens as the player approaches it.
  • As of January 5, 2017, there is chance when making a jump in the vicinity of Maia that the player will be interdicted from hyperspace by a Thargoid Interceptor.

See also

  • A Mass Jump is when many ships initiate a hyperspace jump at the same time.