Micro jump drive (lore)
The micro jump drive is rumored to be a specialized miniaturization of the jump drive intended for use by subcapital ships. Its small size and reduced energy consumption allows it to be fitted even on frigate-sized ships, greatly expanding the maneuverability and tactical range of fleets. Research into such a device has been ongoing for decades, but it was only recently completed thanks to reverse engineering technology recovered from Anoikis.
First Jump Drives
The Amarr first developed the jump drive in 23058 AD, allowing for instantaneous jumps between systems without the need to utilize a star gate. The earliest jump drives were large and inefficient devices, capable of being utilized only by capital ships. While the logistical benefits of such drives were immense, the tactical applications were limited by the inability to fit smaller vessels. The Empire set about attempting to advance the technology, but constantly found themselves running into roadblocks.
Eventually, the technology spread to the other empires. An attempt at adapting jump drives to subcapital ships was initiated by the Caldari corporation InoTech Star Drives in YC108. Initial results seemed promising, but an extended trial in front of the Caldari Navy ended in disaster. The failed experiment ruined InoTech financially, leading to the divestment of their resources to a number of different corporations.
Black Ops Jump Drive
One of those corporations, Itsukame Innovations, finally bore fruit, though not to the degree desired by military insiders. The development lead directly to the creation of Black Ops ships, allowing subcapitals the ability to independently jump from system to system for the first time. However, the fuel requirements of the jump drive and its limited usage on a single class of ship meant that it was unable to provide the tactical advantage widely sought after.
After development of the Black Ops jump drive, research shifted to smaller drives that would not be used to travel between systems, but rather operate inside a system. Such a drive would allow a ship to travel much faster between destinations, without the sometimes crucial delay caused by a warp. All research was stymied by the complex gravitational interactions between local celestial objects and generated cynosural fields. Ships that attempted to jump inside a system were either thrown wildly off course or torn apart by tidal forces.
A Lai Dai team, headed by Holene Vailakkei, was in the process of developing a new technology to utilize warp technology to move goods into low orbit, bypassing the need for space elevators. The group was preparing to demonstrate the technology at the Black Rise Development Conference in YC111. However, a series of explosions, cybernetic attacks, and other "unexplained mishaps" resulted in the destruction of the prototype, the deaths of several researchers, and Vailakkei in a coma.
Rumored Breakthroughs and pursuant Shutdown
With a flood of salvaged parts coming from ruins in Anoikis, the empires invested heavily into reverse engineering technology found there. Of particular interest to jump drive engineers were components found in many Sleeper structures that involved extreme spatial manipulation technologies. Research was slow, as the components were complicated, different in subtle ways from other Sleeper artifacts, and often beyond the comprehension of most scientists.
However, thanks to collaborative efforts between several Caldari corporations, including Itsukame Innovations, Lai Dai, and Kaalakiota, the ability to jump without utilizing cynosural fields was reportedly developed at last. Unfortunately, even once the breakthrough was supposedly achieved, it had a limitation: The technology allowed not for crossings of multiple AU as hoped and expected, but rather a maximum of a modest 100 kilometers.
There would have been notable benefits even to this level of performance, as ships using the tech would have been able to instantly jump around in space without the need for a beacon of any sort, but even at this level the technology remained far too unstable. When the Gallente Federation's research teams picked up where the Caldari ones had left off, led by Duvolle Laboratories, they managed to get as far as developing several different workable prototypes (in what was reportedly a record time for this kind of complex research). Unfortunately, one of the first in-flight tests involved the death of Avagher Xarasier, a famous technological pioneer, when the micro jump drive fitted onto his ship developed a deadly course of its own.
The tech was eventually deemed too risky to be put into general use, and all data on the project was shelved in the various empires and locked off to outsiders.
The micro jump drive is based off a combination of traditional jump drive technology and spatial manipulation tech recovered from Sleeper ruins. Traditional jump drives operate by opening a short-lived wormhole that transports the entire mass of a ship instantly through. The jump drive must lock on to a cynosural field, a specialized artificial gravity signal that does not exist in nature, in order to create this wormhole.
When a ship is in the same system as a cynosural field being generated, the interactions between the local gravity and the cynosural field create interference that renders jumps impossible. Micro jump drives work by creating a virtual cynosural signal. Because the virtual signal is not “real”, it does not interact with the local gravity fields, avoiding the dangerous interference, though such a field cannot be produced very close to a gravity well, such as within a planet's low orbit. However, because the signal is virtual, the jump drive can only lock on to it from an exact distance of 100 kilometers. This prevents the drive from being used for precision jumps, but does increase the maneuverability of heavier ships.
It is believed that future research into spatial manipulation technologies will increase the maximum distance of a jump. Additional refinements may enable it to adjust the distance of a jump on the fly, increasing the flexibility of the micro jump drive. Unfortunately, until the technology stabilizes enough not to risk the immediate pulverization of nearby objects, it will remain a theoretical curio.
The micro jump drive additionally does not require any specialized fuel as do larger jump drives. Instead, it generates its wormhole entirely through its ship's capacitor. This further limits the maximum theoretical distance the ship could jump, though this is several orders of magnitude greater than the current maximum distance of virtual cynosural field creation.
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