Adventure in the Spinward Marches
Faster-Than-Light Travel and Communication
Faster–Than–Light Travel and Communications
In the Traveller universe there is no Faster–Than–Light (FTL) radio or other instantaneous communication medium. The only way to get a message to a given point is to send a starship there. In civilized areas a system of courier ships and ‘express boats’ (Xboats) is used to maintain communications, with mail and additional information moving aboard commercial starships.
This creates a system not unlike Earth in the Age of Sail, whereby a vessel on a distant station might be months from base and the orders of its captain’s superiors. Colonial governors, corporate officials, lawmen and all sorts of other individuals find themselves waiting for literally weeks if instructions are requested. Thus individuals have to take responsibility and act as they think best.
FTL travel is possible using the Jump drive. Essentially a ship enters Jumpspace and stays there, cut off from the rest of the universe for roughly a week. It then returns to normal space some distance form its starting point. A Jump–1 rated ship can travel up to 1 parsec in a single Jump (which always takes more or less a week, regardless of distance). Higher Jump–rated ships can cover greater distances but despite the occasional rumour or secret prototypes and alien vessels, reliable Jumps of more than 6 parsecs have not been achieved.
It is possible to travel more than 6 parsecs in a single Jump, but this is only one of several possible outcomes of what is known as a Misjump. Misjumping can be a slight inconvenience, bringing out the vessel a bit late or a few AU from its intended emergence point…or it can result in an unpredictable Jump of highly variable duration and distance.
There are no reliable reports of a vessel surviving a Misjump that carried it more than 36 parsecs, though there are the usual wild spacers’ tales. It is assumed that those vessels that Misjumped and were not seen again were destroyed. It is definitely known that some vessels have been destroyed by Misjump accidents since in some cases debris was found.