When most people think of the Star Wars universe, their first thoughts likely go to the conflict between the Jedi and the Sith. After all, a majority of mainstream Star Wars stories have focused on that endless war. However, there are plenty of other important aspects among the stars that get a bit less attention.
Many fans have their favorite Star Wars ship, but they may not have thought about how those ships get around. One of the most famous modes of travel from the series is none other than hyperspace. It’s been around for decades at this point, but most people may have no idea what it is or how it works.
The scary-looking entity has many unknown qualities to it, making it that much more dangerous and terrifying.
What Is Hyperspace?
A separate dimension linked back to the original
Hyperdrives or technology that is imbued with the Force
It can be assumed that most of the galaxy has access to hyperspace.
While hyperspace may initially just seem like a ship going incredibly fast, describing it that way would do the true explanation a disservice. When Star Wars characters jump to hyperspace, they are actually entering a completely different dimension for the duration of their travel. Somehow, these two dimensions are linked in such a unique way that most scientific experts in the Star Wars universe still aren’t quite sure about every aspect of hyperspace travel. With a high bar of entry for safe use, hyperspace isn’t just for any pilot out among the stars. Only the best of the best are able to make proper use of hyperspace and come out alive.
This mode of travel was so useful that it quickly became the central aspect of space travel. Hyperspace would allow empires to reach across the stars, create trade partners with two separate parties in the far reaches of the galaxy, and, as one might expect in Star Wars, engage in massive wars no matter where they were taking place.
The main reason why it was so useful was that hyperspace allowed a pilot to cover huge ground across the stars in a much shorter timeframe. A journey that might take an ordinary ship weeks, months, or even years could theoretically (if all the conditions were right) take a few seconds or just a handful of minutes.
How Does Hyperspace Work?
Essentially, once a well-trained pilot goes through the necessary procedure, their ship would begin to reach ludicrous speeds. This would cause a perception of the stars themselves stretching as they officially entered hyperspace. That may sound like a simple process, but the science behind it is much more complex. With the help of a hyperdrive, a ship would be able to overcome the light-speed barrier by literally warping space-time. This would eventually allow a pilot to enter the hyperspace dimension. At that point, space itself would take on a strange blue look, which indicated that the pilot was now actually in hyperspace.
It’s important to note just how dangerous hyperspace travel is, considering there is an equivalent position in ordinary space for each position within hyperspace. As Han Solo points out in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope:
Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations, we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova, and that’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?
Han Solo’s quote is reinforced by the fact that the Galactic Republic had seemingly planned out meticulous routes that allowed for safe hyperspace travel, and yet, this still didn’t guarantee safety. Depending on the specifics, if a pilot were to accidentally have some kind of collision while in hyperspace, the impacts could be so significant that entire planets could be destroyed.
An interesting wrinkle in the effectiveness of hyperspace travel comes from the necessity to avoid potential collisions. As previously noted, hyperspace travel is capable of getting someone to their destination in just a few short moments. However, if a desired route was packed with debris, hyperspace travel would be impossible. Something as simple as an asteroid field was capable of blocking hyperspace travel, which means the absurdly fast mode of transportation could be far less useful in specific circumstances.
How Long Has Hyperspace Existed?
First Known Species To Harness Hyperspace
By the time that most of the Star Wars films take place, hyperspace travel has been around for quite a long time. There isn’t any exact date for when it was first discovered; its discovery is only mentioned as ancient. This means that by the time Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace begins, hyperspace has long been a popular way to travel across the galaxy. The best guess surrounding some kind of timeline is that the Galactic Republic was using hyperspace for travel for well over twenty thousand years. This means that hyperspace travel extends well into the Old Republic era, making its exact creation a thing of legend.
While there is no particular date, the species that discovered it is known as the Rakatan (also known as Rakata), an interesting humanoid species that would eventually end up going extinct. It appears that they had some kind of strong connection with the Force, as their history indicates that they managed to combine the Force with their interstellar travel to eventually reach hyperspace. From there, other species managed to get their hands on Ratakan technology and craft their own early versions of hyperdrives, eventually making them a staple across the galaxy.
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Why did the Sith believe they could take over the galaxy in the Great Hyperspace War from Star Wars lore?