It must be remembered that at the dawn of its Interstellar Migration period, Terra Prima had mastered only the most primitive form of transit, a proto-subspace drive that enabled supralight travel and allowed only the most elementary three-dimensional navigation. In addition, practically nothing was known about the shape and fabric of space itself. Our Terran ancestors hypothesized the temporal distortion of interstellar distances on a linear model. But they knew that it would be a one-way trip for the initial colony ships. Over a dozen were sent out, that we know of—possibly many more. Records from the era are fragmentary at best, even on Terra Prima itself.
The log of the second human colony ship Destiny, the oldest remaining extant document of early space travel, demonstrated one of the principal problems related to the proto-supralight drives and primitive navigation of the era: The fragmentary log remaining from the voyage showed a relative time (RT) lapse of three years in sublight drive and nineteen years for the subspace transit. What it did not show, because at that time there was no technology capable of tracking it, was the subspace distortion—likely some variety of parabolic current—that redirected the Destiny’s trajectory and flung it far from its original course.
When the ship surfaced, there was indeed a “landmark” double star in the approximate range expected. There were variations in spectral type and rotation, and the secondary was further than expected from the primary, but the colonists had no way of knowing the actual relative elapsed time (RET) of their transit, and they ignored the variations. They were concentrating on finding the nearby yellow-spectrum star they expected to have planets, and terraforming the world they sought.
It was not until RT 384 that the Procyon engineers, seeking ever more efficient power sources, discovered the properties of stable transuranic minerals. Thus followed the first great wave of Colonial technology, enabling the development of the first truly efficient subspace drive systems and the discovery of the generators which could exploit the principles of soft-transit waves.
Concurrently, the scientists of Altair were working on mapping what they could grasp of subspace, and testing the hypotheses that would result in the Temporal Prediction Equations. They had no way to harness the knowledge, for although they had developed incremental improvements on their own primitive subspace drive technology, they lacked a power source that would enable them to apply what they had learned.
Not until the return voyage of the Homefall 4 to Procyon from Terra Prime with the surviving crew members of Altair’s Xing Hikobo did the two technologies unite to make possible viable “space travel.”
Current Space Travel Technology
Current space travel relies on several technologies:
- Insystem sublight drives that can carry ships beyond the gravitic distortions of star systems and other navigational hazards;
- Modified Tavis field generators that encapsulate matter (ships) and link it to the induction field that actually accomplishes the task of “translating” the ship into subspace dimensions;
- TPE beacon navigators that enable the ship to direct its path through subspace using “wave ping” feedback loops and TPE beacon “ticks”; and
- Induction-field drives: The induction field is generated by a cryston lattice charged in a transuranic reaction-fuel chamber. The field transmission rods “unpack” dimensional space to translate the encapsulated ship into subspace, then bleed off the reaction power as the subspace equivalent of Delta-v
The true limiting factor inherent in space travel as the Hub knows it, is the challenging nature of investigating subspace. Normal-space instrumentation does not function in subspace conditions, and even the “wave ping” effect that enables navigation, though an observable phenomenon, is neither recordable by any current instrumentation technology, nor replicable by any current theoretical model.
We know that the “shape” of subspace is in a constant state of change, affecting the nature of navigation and the speed of subspace transit, which is why all interstellar transit times are given in approximate terms. We also know that normal-space distance has a rough analog to the shape of subspace, but that there are curious anomalies– For example, the transit between the Nira-Hoy cluster in the downeast node, and Salvados in the Ophiuchi Circuit generally runs between 300-400 hours RET, although the actual normal-space distance is nearly twice that between Salvados and the Procyon C cluster, stable at 430 hours +/- 12 RET. These anomalies have been dubbed “wormholes” in popular conception, but bear no actual relation to the still-theoretical wormholes of normal-space physics.
Recent developments in induction-field physics have also offered clues to the nature of subspace: The kerstan sublim field generators have opened up new lines of investigation. Documented efficiencies in Delta-v production based on field resonance frequencies have produced an array of new hypothetical models being investigated throughout the University League.