FTL (Battlestar Galactica)

FTL (Battlestar Galactica)

An FTL, or "Faster Than Light", Drive is a fictional propulsion technology from the re-imagined "Battlestar Galactica" television series that allows space ships to achieve superluminal travel. They are fuelled by a refined version of the fictional ore tylium.cite episode| episodelink=The Hand of God (Battlestar Galactica)| title=The Hand of God| series=Battlestar Galactica]

The verb "jump" is commonly used to describe the process of travelling via FTL drive. Dialogue states that the drive itself is "spooled up" prior to use.cite episode| episodelink=Battlestar Galactica (TV miniseries)| title=Mini Series, Part 1| series=] cite episode| episodelink=Scar (Battlestar Galactica)| title=Scar| series=Battlestar Galactica]

The term FTL is never used in the original "Battlestar Galactica" film and television series. The term "light speed" is used, even though within the context of the storyline, the "Galactica" and its fleet move at sub-light speeds and are described as being unable to travel faster than light.cite episode| episodelink=List of Battlestar Galactica (1978-1980) episodes| title=The Living Legend| series=] The term FTL is also commonly used when the show is being discussed by outside parties. [cite web|url=http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/about/glossary/|title=Battlestar Galactica Glossary|accessdate=2007-04-22|author=scifi.com]


The exact nature of the FTL drives remains unexplained in the show; what information exists has been extrapolated from visual behavior and on-screen dialogue.

Little time appears to pass on a ship during a jump and objects within a ship do not appear to exhibit the signs of momentum/inertia associated with acceleration/deceleration.cite episode| episodelink=Scattered (Battlestar Galactica)| title=Scattered| series=Battlestar Galactica] Nausea is a noticeable side effect noted in some humans, for example Specialist Cally.

According to producer interviews in the season one DVD release of the series, the special effects director indicated that the FTL is a dimensional transport effect, where the ships instantaneously teleport from one place to another. This method of travel was one of several FTL ideas the production crew had in mind for the show, however to keep things simple and focused to the story, (as well as staying within budget restraints), producers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore chose the straightforward dimensional jump effect over more complex ideas. Because of this however, the term "FTL" used to describe this dimensional transition is somewhat misleading as the ships do not technically "move" faster than light, but rather instantaneously relocate to a new position in space without a change in speed. The fact remains, however, that they get to their destination faster than light would.


Owing to difficulties navigating while using an FTL drive, ships wishing to make an FTL jump must calculate their speed, trajectory and jump duration prior to activating their FTL drive. Failure to do so can lead to ships jumping into poorly charted areas where sub-light navigation is difficult, or into dangerous areas such as those containing asteroid fields, gravity wells, or even inside a planet's atmosphere.cite episode| episodelink=Lay Down Your Burdens (Battlestar Galactica)| title=Lay Down Your Burdens| series=Battlestar Galactica]

A ship making a properly calculated jump can arrive safely in planetary orbit, or alongside other ships or spaceborne objects. Ships using the same calculations can also safely jump together. Non-calculated jumps (known as a "blind jump") are possible, as is risked by Admiral Cain aboard "Pegasus" during the Cylon sneak attack of the Scorpian Shipyards in the season two episode "Pegasus".cite episode| episodelink=Pegasus (Battlestar Galactica)| title=Pegasus| series=Battlestar Galactica] . In "Razor", Cain's risky jump was shown in one of Kendra Shaw's flashbacks – the ship jumped away just after undocking to the fleetyard complex while under attack by Cylon Raiders.

Because little is known about the physics of the FTL drive, it is not clear whether ships must plot a course around large physical objects, such as suns and gas giants, or if they have to adjust their course to take local gravitational variations into account, although the "Galactica" is shown in episode "Exodus" to be capable of making a successful jump whilst travelling through the atmosphere at immense speeds towards the surface of the planet New Caprica.cite episode| episodelink=Exodus (Battlestar Galactica)| title=Exodus| series=Battlestar Galactica]

Jump co-ordinates must be constantly updated to allow for changes in a ship's position, and for stellar drift.


In order to initiate a jump, the crew must first intitiate an automated start-up procedure, known as "spooling" the FTL drive, which can take several minutes to complete. This step is done just before a planned jump, presumably because it is impractical or impossible to keep the FTL drive in a "spooled up" state of readiness for an extended period of time.

The Cylons are capable of calculating more accurate jumps. In "Lay Down Your Burdens", a Cylon Heavy Raider can make ten jumps in comparison to the "Galactica"'s 500 to jump to Caprica. Because of this, smaller Cylon ships (for example a Cylon Raider) can make longer jumps than Colonial craft of a similar size.cite episode| episodelink=Kobol's Last Gleaming| title=Kobol's Last Gleaming| series=Battlestar Galactica] . However the fact that the Colonial fleet's jump range is limited to the least capable ship's FTL system may mean that Galactica is capable of jumping further than indicated thusfar.

The safe limit of FTL travel for the Twelve Colonies is known as the "Red Line". A ship jumping beyond this line risks running into unknown navigational hazards, or going off course due to compound errors in its jump calculation.cite episode| episodelink=Battlestar Galactica (TV miniseries)| title=Mini Series, Part 2| series=]

Cylon technology

The Cylon FTL technology operated within the series is stated to be much more advanced than that operated by the Colonials, the superiority in FTL technology enables them to make much more accurate jumps of a longer range. Much like Colonial FTL technology the Cylons also make use of refined tylium ore as their fuel source.This advantage may lie primarily in the Cylon's jump computers. Using a captured unit, a squad of Galactica's Raptors were able to jump back to Caprica on a rescue mission in relatively few jumps. It is unclear whether this superior computing technology is solely responsible for the Cylon's greater range, or if there is an additional advantage in drive technology itself.

ee also

*Jump drive


External links

* at the Battlestar Wiki.
* at the Battlestar Wiki.

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