FTL Travel: What is an exoshift?

While there are multiple methods of FTL travel in the setting, by far the most economical and commonly used method is this setting’s namesake, the Exoshift.

Exoshifting is a process that allows a ship, at various calculated points in a solar system, to perform a jump to another point in space.

However, this requires a very peculiar set of circumstances involving gravitational cancellation, electrodynamics, and more. The resulting mathematics needed to calculate an exoshift are incredibly complex even the most advanced computers take time to compute a stable exoshift. Worse, some knowledge of the target location is needed, with more accurate information resulting in a more accurately predicted destination.

The closer a ship is to a source of gravity or magnetic disturbance, the more difficult it is to perform a safe exoshift. Most consumer grade exoshift engines require the ship to at least be in the outer portion of a solar system before shifting. This means that most ships will have a period of sub light travel as it moves to and from the exoshift point and its destination in system.

Because it is also reliant on the positions of gravitational and magnetic fields, there are times when certain exoshift points are unavailable, waiting for the right alignments of planets or other solar bodies. Combined with exoshifting’s limited range, there are well established lanes of travel through space as ships jump to and from pre-calculated safe points.

Some civilizations have found ways to produce stations that artificially generate the right conditions to exoshift at all times. Others create networks of beacons that travel with or around exoshift points, providing directions to alternate routes, or pre-computed exoshifts through empty space.

The exoshift engine is also relatively small and efficient for something capable of interstellar travel. The parts, while complex and expensive, are essentially as common as the combustible engine today, as every civilization manufactures a version of it. The various parts of the engine can also be used in other aspects of travel, such a the inertial fields and gravity generators used in the engine also can be used to aid in sub-light travel, reducing the ship’s inertia, or generating the ships’ artificial gravity.

Exoshifting is also somewhat safe, as one cannot simply shift into a star or inside a planet by the nature of the technique. However, a ship can still appear too close to such bodies, or in other space hazards. The nature of the exoshift, if calculated correctly, allows the shift to equalize relative velocities from the origin to destination point. One of the most dreaded outcomes of a shift is simply ending up in empty space after a misjump. With no nearby gravity wells, and few points of reference, it can take a long time to plot another exoshift back to civilization, a ship without a backup FTL system can find itself stranded in the darkness between systems.

But, there are more dangers in space travel than just the mechanical.

Because exoshifting often requires a ship to head into the outer solar system, or travel inwards from the outer solar system, piracy can be common in some areas of space. These areas are often uninhabited, or less policed, where ships are intercepted as they travel through to their destinations.

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