Memoir: FTL Theories of Lieutenant Alexander Marcion, PhD

Author's note: Though Humanity has been making FTL Jumps for centuries, our understanding of the process has never been perfect. There are many divergent theories on what precisely our FTL Drives DO, in order to hurl us many lightyears from where we begin. The following is Lt. Alexander Marcion's theory on the process, incorporated recently into various short blurbs to the civvies concerning the Cerberus' new E-Class FTL Drive.

FTL Drives

In a place as mind-bogglingly big as the Universe, it can take awhile to get anywhere. The Theory of Relativity has put the Universe's speed limit at below lightspeed, and given the large numbers of years it can take for even light to get certain places, travel would be exceedingly long and ponderous. This is where FTL comes in.

FTL Travel, discovered two centuries before the first Cylon War, is a process that allows starships to cross vast distances in an instant. Despite the name, ships do not actually travel when using FTL Drive. Relativity is still in place, and true faster-than-light travel remains impossible. An object using FTL ceases to exist in one place, and appears in another, without ever traversing the spaces between.

The FTL "Jump"

Though the process requires a degree or three in quantum physics to understand fully, FTL Drives operate by creating what experts call an "FTL Bubble" around the ship. Through manipulation of dark energy (most easily produced through a Tylium Reaction) objects inside of the Bubble instantaneously gain near-infinite mass, and the bubble immediately collapses into a singularity. That singularity then vanishes and reappears in another location, and the process is reversed, with the singularity "blowing up" to the original Bubble's size.

(It should be noted than objects that are not completely encompassed by the FTL Bubble are shorn clean through, the reason that FTL Drives are designed to create Bubbles just barely big enough to encompass the entire ship. Ideally, a ship as large as a Battlestar would have an FTL Bubble that projected mere feet beyond it's outermost layer. If an object shorn by the Bubble is dense enough, it is possible to create a minor Fission reaction at the bubble point.)

FTL Navigation

As there is no real travel involved, distance is not an object in an FTL Jump. Any drive could, conceivably, put a ship at on the other side of the universe in a single jump. However, people making FTL Jumps tend to be picky about where they arrive, and the ability to accurately control where the FTL Bubble reforms is the primary limiting factor of FTL jumps. The "Red Line" is the distance at which the margin for error has gone beyond Colonial safety margins, and is a rule rigidly enforced as a botched jump is dangerous to everyone involved. Newer FTL Drives typically have better navigation systems, and so have an extended Red Line. In addition to the "Red Line" is the "Black Line" the line at which the margin of error is greater than the distance of the jump.

Generally speaking, the farther a jump is, the greater the margin for error in Navigation. There is also a minimum "drift," depending on the drive. Hitting an exact spot can be difficult, which is why no one will be jumping a Raptor from one Battlestar Deck to another anytime soon.

FTL Power Supply

The Dark Energy required to create an FTL Bubble was discovered in early experimentation with Tylium as a power source, and to this day Tylium remains the most efficient known fuel for Space Travel. The amount of energy required to make an FTL Jump is primarily determined by the size of the FTL Bubble to be created, which is why it costs so much more energy to jump a Battlestar than a Raptor. To save on fuel costs, some Battlestar designs utilized retractable Flight Pods, a design that was eventually abandoned as Pods could get stuck in their extended position, which made the ship unable to make a jump without sustaining potentially catastrophic damage.

"Spin Up"

The process of generating the Dark Energy necessary for an FTL Jump involves a device known as a "Spinner." The spinners use a centrifugal process to sift dark energy out of the Tylium reaction, simultaneously generating a massive amount of conventional energy. The process is not instantaneous and requires a period of time, the period depending largely on the size of the Bubble to be formed and the time since a last jump was completed. Spinning up 'cold' or from a drive that has not made a jump in a week or so, can take as much as three minutes. A warm spin-up usually takes only a few seconds. This being the only component of an FTL Drive with moving parts, it is the most prone to technical difficulty.

The E-Class

Battlestar Cerberus has been equipped with an E-Class FTL Drive, the first of its kind. The E-class is unique among Battlestar grade FTL systems in that it uses only a single spinner to create a single massive FTL Bubble, rather than the two smaller ones used on most Battlestars. Though this slightly lowers fuel efficiency, it also greatly reduces engine wear and tear, meaning that a far larger number of jumps may be made without major repairs. Boasting a hypothetical Red Line nearly 25% farther out than that of the D-class, this makes the Cerberus ideal for deep space strikes as well as early response.

(Engineer's Note: Increased Power draw is playing Hades with internal systems. Batteries keep overloading and the power surges are frakking up our computers. We've had to completely replace the mainframes twice already.)

Promises well and good for fliers given to civilians but nothing about E-Class is certain until after Jump Zero. Recommend Jump to big, empty bit of space, just to be sure. Power surges noted, likely a problem in the secondary spinner overflow. Will examine.
~Lt. Marcion

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