Hyperspace may refer to:

  • Hyperspace (science fiction), a concept often used in science fiction writing
  • Hyperspace (book), a book by Dr. Michio Kaku that attempts to explain the possibility of ten-dimensional space using string theory
  • Minkowski spacetime, a concept, often referred to by science fiction writers as "hyperspace", that refers to the four-dimensional space-time of special relativity

Hyperspace also sounds similar to several terms used in mathematics, the term hyper often being used to refer to higher dimensional constructs:

  • Hyperspace, an Euclidean space of dimension greater than three. (The term was common in late nineteenth century British books, sometimes in the context of paranormal fantasies, but has become rarer since then.)
  • Hyperplane, an affine subspace of codimension one in such a space.
  • Hypersphere, a round sphere dimension 3 or higher, especially if embedded in such a space.
  • Hypersurface, a submanifold of codimension one, especially if embedded in such a space. This term includes hypersphere and hyperplane as special cases.
  • Tesseract, also known as a hypercube, a cube [0,1]d, where d> 3. The word tesseract was used, especially in nineteenth and early twentieth century British semi-popular books on mathematics, to denote the special case d = 4.

In physics, hyperspace is a theoretical entity. The theory consists of the idea that our own universe is connected to other universes through wormholes, and all of the universes are found within "hyperspace".

The parallel dimension used by ships to facilitate expeditious interstellar travel.


The Millennium Falcon travels through hyperspace

Hyperspace is the space through which a spaceship may travel at faster-than-light speeds, using a hyperdrive.

Ships in hyperspace can interact with normal space, and thus complicated calculations (usually performed by an astromech droid or a navigation computer) are necessary to avoid a disastrous impact.

Moving too close to a source of high gravity can remove a ship from hyperspace. This can occur when faulty calculations move the ship too near a star or large planet. This mechanism is exploited by the Imperial Interdictor cruiser, whose Gravity well projectors can be used to pull ships out of hyperspace for an ambush, or to prevent ships from fleeing the battlefield. It is also exploited by pirates, who have been known to haul large asteroids into such a position as to bring a ship out of hyperspace in order to ambush and board it.



Hyperspace is the space through which a spaceship may travel at faster-than-light speeds, using a hyperdrive.

Ships in hyperspace can interact with normal space, and thus complicated calculations (usually performed by an astromech droid or a navigation computer) are necessary to avoid a disastrous impact.

Moving too close to a high gravity field known as a mass shadow can remove a ship from hyperspace. This can occur when faulty calculations move the ship too near a star or large planet. This mechanism is exploited by the Imperial Interdictor cruiser and the Old Republic Interdictor-class Cruiser, whose Gravity well projectors can be used to pull ships out of hyperspace for an ambush, or to prevent ships from fleeing the battlefield. It is also exploited by pirates, who have been known to haul large asteroids into such a position as to bring a ship out of hyperspace in order to ambush and board it.

See alsoEdit

External linkEdit

In science fiction, hyperspace is any region of space co-existing with our own universe (in some cases displaced in an extra spatial dimension) which may be entered using some sort of energy field or space-altering method. While hyperspace is in some way anchored to the normal universe, its properties are not the same as normal space, so traveling in hyperspace is largely inequivalent to traveling in normal space. This makes for a handy explanation of faster than light (FTL) travel: while the shortest distance between two points in normal space is a straight line, hyperspace allows those points to be closer together, or a curved line in normal space to be straight, etc. Hyperspace is the most common device used for explaining FTL in a science fiction story where FTL is necessary for interstellar travel or intergalactic travel. Spacecraft able to use hyperspace for FTL travel are said to have hyperdrive.

Theory Edit

Generally speaking, the idea of hyperspace relies on the existence of a separate and adjacent dimension. When activated, the hyperdrive shunts the starship into this other dimension, where it can cover vast distances in an amount of time greatly reduced from the time it would take in "real" space. Once it reaches the point in hyperspace that corresponds to its destination in real space, it re-emerges.

Explanations of why ships can travel faster than light in hyperspace vary; hyperspace may be smaller than real space and therefore a starship's propulsion seems to be greatly multiplied, or else the speed of light in hyperspace is not a barrier as it is in real space. Whatever the reasoning, the general effect is that ships traveling in hyperspace seem to have broken the speed of light, appearing at their destinations much quicker and without the shift in time that the Theory of Relativity would suggest.

In much science fiction, hyperdrive jumps require a considerable amount of planning and calculation, with any error carrying a threat of dire consequences. Therefore, jumps may cover a much shorter distance than would actually be possible so that the navigator can stop to "look around" -- take his bearings, plot his position, and plan the next jump. The time it takes to travel in hyperspace also varies. Travel times may be in hours, days, weeks or more.

A different concept, sometimes also referred to as 'hyperspace' and similiarly used to explain FTL travel in fiction, is that the manifold of ordinary three-dimensional space is curved in four or more 'higher' spacial dimensions (a 'hyperspace' in the geometric sense; see hypersurface, tesseract, Flatland). This curvature causes certain widely separated points in three-dimensional space to nonetheless be 'adjacent' to each other four-dimensionally. Creating an aperture in 4D space (a wormhole) between these locations can allow instantaneous transit between the two locations; a common comparison is that of a folded piece of paper, where a hole punched through two folded sections is more direct than a line drawn between them on the sheet. This idea probably arose out of certain popular descriptions of General Relativity and/or Riemannian manifolds, and may be the original form from which later concepts of hyperspace arose. This form often restricts FTL travel to specific 'jump points'. See jump drive, Alcubierre drive.

Depictions Edit

Many stories feature hyperspace as a dangerous place, and others require a ship to follow set Hyperspatial 'highways'. Hyperspace is often described as being an unnavigable dimension where straying from one's preset course can be disastrous.

In some science fiction, the danger of hyperspace travel is due to the chance that the route through hyperspace may take a ship too close to a celestial body with a large gravitational field, such as a star. In such scenarios, if a starship passes too close to a large gravitational field while in hyperspace, the ship is forcibly pulled out of hyperspace and reverts to normal space. Therefore, certain hyperspace "routes" may be mapped out that are safe, not passing too close to stars or other dangers.

Starships in hyperspace are typically isolated from the normal universe; they cannot communicate with nor perceive things in real space until they emerge. Often there can be no interaction between two ships even when both are in hyperspace. This effect can be used as a plot device; because they are invisible to each other while in hyperspace, ships will encounter each other most often around contested planets or space stations. Hyperdrive may also allow for dramatic escapes as the pilot "jumps" to hyperspace in the midst of battle to avoid destruction.

In many stories, for various technobabble reasons, a starship cannot enter or leave hyperspace too close to a large concentration of mass, such as a planet or star; this means that hyperspace can only be used after a starship gets to the outside edge of a solar system, so the starship must use other means of propulsion to get to and from planets. Other writers have limited access to hyperspace by requiring a very large expenditure of energy in order to open a link (sometimes called a jump point) between hyperspace and normal space; this effectively limits access to hyperspace to very large starships, or to large stationary jump gates that can open jump points for smaller vessels. These restrictions are often plot devices to prevent starships from easily escaping by slipping into hyperspace, thus ensuring epic space battles.

Detailed depictions are listed below.

Babylon 5Edit

In the Babylon 5 universe, hyperspace is treated as an area of space where the distances between spatial bodies are significantly shorter. The primary energy expenditure in hyperspace travel is the act of "jumping" into hyperspace. While in hyperspace itself, ships use their normal propulsion systems and interstellar travel is enabled by the shorter distances. Smaller ships must use a "jumpgate", which are artificial constructs that create a rift into hyperspace. Larger ships, presumably those with a power supply greater than that of a nuclear fusion reactor, can create their own jump points to enter hyperspace. A jump point allowing entry into hyperspace from normal space is characterized by a red shift, while jump points for ships emerging from hyperspace are characterized by a blue shift. Battles in hyperspace are infrequent and avoided. In the Babylon 5 fictional history, Earth acquired hyperspace technology from the Centauri who allowed humans use of their pre existing jump gates. Earth used these already established jumpgates to explore the galaxy, and presumably later researched the ability to build their own jumpgates. By the 23rd century, larger Earth ships have the ability to create their own jump point without the use of a jump gate. No specific metric has ever been given to exact hyperspace distances in the Babylon 5 universe.


A somewhat unusual depiction of hyperspace travel is found in Dune. In the Dune milieu, space is folded using a complicated distortion technology. Travel is nearly instantaneous but very dangerous because of the extremely complex calculations required, compounded by the fact that computers are forbidden by religious decree. Mutated Guild Navigators (employees of the Spacing Guild) megadose on an addictive substance called melange, the unique properties of which enhance the humans' nascent ability to see into the future and fully comprehend the underlying nature of the universe. It is this prescient ability that allows them to see a safe passage and guide the ships safely through folded space. The Spacing Guild holds a monopoly and wields great power in the Dune universe as a result.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyEdit

Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy opens with the destruction of the planet earth by Vogons in order to "make way for a hyperspace bypass". Hyperspace travel is not described very clearly, however. The general impression is that a ship travels for a short time along a bypass through alternate dimension and emerges at its destination. The sensation of hyperspace travel is described by Ford Prefect as "unpleasantly like being drunk." When Arthur Dent asks why that is so bad, Prefect answers "You ask a glass of water." The experience is further described in the narrative as follows:

The room folded flat about [Arthur], spun around, shifted out of existence and left him sliding into his own navel.

This could be taken as hinting that hyperspace is a separate universe altogether; folding flat suggests that it is two-dimensional. We also know there is not a vacuum in Hyperspace; the Guide was able to read itself to them during the voyage.

It is at one point stated that one of the reasons for the development of the Infinite Improbability Drive is to allow people to cross vast interstellar distances quickly "without all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace".

Instrumentality of Mankind series (Cordwainer Smith)Edit

In the early eras of interstellar travel, crossing open space far from a star originally presented an incomprehensible danger: ordinary lifeforms, even protected within a hull environment, would die horribly for no apparent cause. Initially, this danger was met with the creation of the Habermen (humans, usually criminals, modified to be semi-automatons) and the Scanners (elite volunteers who underwent the Haberman process and served as ship's officers), who could survive whatever this unknown threat was unharmed. Later it was determined that if a large number of living organisms (clams, specifically) were used as a 'living shield', organisms further inward could survive unharmed. With the discovery of Space2 and the 'planoform' drive, the cause of this was finally determined: living entities, sometimes referred to as 'dragons', which existed in Space2 and fed on life energies. Since these creatures were disrupted and killed by bright physical light, they avoided the areas near stars. Thus, the practice of 'pinlighting' developed: ships would be accompanied by smaller vessels piloted by genetically engineered telepathic housecats, whom guided by human telepaths on-board the ships, would attack the creatures (which they perceived as enormous rats) with minature nuclear flares.

Aside from this, and the strange effects of the first attempts to travel through Space2 (and later, Space3), little is known about the planoform drive.

Known Space series (Larry Niven)Edit

In the 'Known Space' universe (including the shared-world 'Man/Kzin Wars' period), hyperspace is a dimension in which (apparently) all objects move at a rate of 0.3 light years per terrestrial day relative to light moving in the physical universe. Prevailing theories hold that attempting to engage a hypershunt within the gravity well of a sufficiently large supposedly causes the drive (and possibly the ship) to career wildly into an even 'higher' level of hyperspace, which cannot be reached normally and is thought to cause matter within the hyperspace field to disintegrate (though Niven revised this in a later work, Ringworld's Children; according to the new model, other-dimensional entities which exist near large masses consume ships which enter hyperspace in their vicinity). Because of this, the only species known to have developed hyperspace on their own are the Outsiders, a species whose biology is based on superfluid helium and who thus were more readily able and inclined to perform experiments in interstellar space.

When travelling within hyperspace, attempting to view anything outside of the ship (through a porthole or, as in the short story 'Flatlander', through a transparent hull) interacts with the human optic nerve such as to be perceived as a 'blind spot'; this effect is extremely unnerving to most people, and prolonged viewing can lead to madness.


In the Robotech/Macross universe, hyperspace travel also involves the notion of space folding. Hyperspace folding involves a large hyperspace bubble around the vessel travelling through hyperspace. Everything within this bubble is transported along with the vessel itself to its destination. Thus when Captain Global/Gloval is forced into making a hyperspace fold close to the surface of the earth, and entire island and its inhabitants are caught in the hyperspace bubble and transported to Pluto along with the SDF-1.

Robot/Foundation series (Isaac Asimov)Edit

The concept of traveling between stellar systems via the hyperspace drive or "jump" is described or mentioned in several of Isaac Asimov's short stories and novels, both robot and non-robot stories. Hyperspace seems to enable teleportation on a pre-calculated route, the ends of which are in normal space. Although the timeline is not consistent, it appears to start with the development of a hyperdrive from a theoretical construct by The Brain, a positronic supercomputer built by US Robots. Interplanetary travel has already been developed, and in 2002, when US Robots demonstrates its first primitive positronic robot, it is intended to be used for mining operations on the planet Mercury.

Simultaneously, the theories of the spacewarp are developed by a research project under military control, with the assistance of positronic robots, until the first hypership is built at Hyper Base on an asteroid. Once perfected however, the drive is little used, as it is fearfully heavy in energy use and still very risky. But once the existence of habitable planets around the nearer stars to Earth is established (also with robot help), the drive is further developed, and over centuries colonies are established on these planets.

The collection of more and more data on stellar systems and the analysis of stellar spectra allows the compilation of what becomes the Standard Galactic Ephemeris, with which hyperspace navigation (see The Stars, Like Dust) becomes less of an art and more of a science. It still requires complex calculations; not until the fall of the Galactic empire and expansion of the Foundation thousands of years after the first drives were developed would a ship be developed (as in Foundation's Edge) that allows the total computerization of the calculation of single or multiple hyperspace jumps and the control of the jump without human intervention. There is no description of the hyperspace environment, as travel through it is instantaneous.

Space Battleship YamatoEdit

In the animated series Space Battleship Yamato and its sequels, spacetime is described as having a wave form in four or more spacial dimensions. By activating a 'wave motion drive' at a 'crest' in this wave, you can travel instantaneously to another point in space where a similar crest in the spacetime wave exists, allowing jumps across vast regions of space. Activating the drive at other points would result in the vessel being 'submerged' in subspace, remaining stationary but invisible; this is used by the antagonists of the series, the Gamelons, as a form of cloaking technology.

Star Control Edit

In star control hyperSpace is a "higher dimension" that forms an alternate space-time adjacent to TrueSpace. Modern technology has allowed spacefaring civilizations to use HyperSpace as a medium for communication (HyperWave) and transport (hyperdrive). HyperSpace was the first non-TrueSpace dimension to be discovered, and after the work of the Androsynth and the discovery of QuasiSpace by the Alliance is now known to be only one of many such dimensions. Some of the terminology associated with HyperSpace travel, as well as the term HyperSpace itself (literally meaning "above space" in English), appear to be influenced by the use of a tiered-structure analogy to represent reality phase difference, placing HyperSpace "above" TrueSpace. Hyperdrive technology allows ships to "push up" or "translate" into HyperSpace and generates the warp fields necessary to stay in and move through HyperSpace. This may be similar to the focused Inter-Dimensional Fatigue beams used to access QuasiSpace.3 The independent development of hyperdrive technology has been a near universal among modern civilizations, the notable exception being the Arilou who also make use of QuasiSpace. This technology is usually accompanied by HyperWave, a process that involves transmitting information at seemingly superluminal speed via HyperSpace. Even vessels originally designed for subluminal speeds, when equipped with hyperdrive, can be practically used for short-distance HyperSpace travel as evidenced by the Syreen migration from Syra and the Androsynth exodus from Earth.

While a hyperdrive field allows TrueSpace vessels to travel through HyperSpace, the slightly different laws of physics within HyperSpace however impose a constant drag force on a vessel, forcing ships in HyperSpace to constantly thrust and expend fuel in order to make headway. Similar to TrueSpace gravity wells, a ship contained in hyperdrive fields creates a shadow in HyperSpace that indicates its presence visually but also masks the identity of the ship. When the hyperdrive fields of different ships collide, the fields interfere with each other, causing them to dissipate and return their contents to TrueSpace. Any interaction with a hyperdrive field and a natural gravitational intrusion into Hyperspace has the same effect; thus, large local gravity sources prevent the formation of stable hyperdrive fields (hence the impossibility of "pushing up" within a star system). Very short-range HyperSpace maneuvers, however, are possible within a star system. Such maneuvers are usually only used to disengage from combat, and the energy requirement is only noticeable for large ships. The Arilou have very nearly mastered such HyperSpace transitions with their Skiff vessel's HyperSpace Shunt, which allows them to teleport to a random point within a short range.

Star TrekEdit

The Star Trek universe equivalent of hyperspace is known as subspace. Although similar in concept to hyperspace, subspace plays a slightly different role in FTL travel. When a starship is traveling at FTL speeds (commonly known as "warp speed" in the Star Trek universe), the ship itself does not enter subspace. Instead, the ship is surrounded by a field of energy, a warp field. It is the warp field that extends into subspace, allowing the starship to travel at FTL speeds while it remains in normal space. This concept of FTL travel is asymptotically limited by the idea that if the warp field is too strong, the ship itself will be too deeply submerged in subspace, which has negative genetic effects on living things. In addition, at high warp factors (each factor being a subspace field layer surrounding a ship) the energy required to sustain the field grows exponentially. Among the uses of subspace in Star Trek is as a medium for propagating audio/visual signals at FTL speeds, thus allowing feasible communication across interstellar distances (a feat standard radio cannot perform, but which is commonplace in science fiction.) Similar interstellar communication methods using hyperspace is frequently assumed to function in a convenient way in other science fiction works, but the technology is generally taken for granted. "Hypercomm" (hyperspace communication) is mentioned in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, in addition to "subspace channels" being mentioned in almost every Star Trek television series.

Star WarsEdit

The role-playing game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic gives one of the more substantial explanations of how hyperspace travel works in the Star Wars universe. There are established safe hyperspace routes that were scouted out by an unknown species 25,000 years prior to the events in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. These routes made interstellar trade and eventually the establishment of the Republic possible. New routes are almost never scouted out, mostly due to the fact that the end coordinates might place the traveling ship inside some star or planet. For example, the Deep Core Systems are especially hard to navigate because of the high density of stars. A pilot's skill in hyperspace has a lot to do with how he navigates the tangled web of hyperspace routes that criss-cross the galaxy. According to Lucas, that's why Han Solo brags about the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs when a parsec is a measure of distance rather than time: apparently, his real gift is as a navigator. This makes no sense within the context of the original dialogue, however, as Solo's statement about the Falcon making the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs was in response to the question "Is she fast?".

In any case, hyperspace is an extremely fast method of travel, as Obi-Wan and Luke's journey from Tatooine to Alderaan is theorized to have only taken two days maximum, whereas these two planets are separated by half a galaxy or more.

The Voyage of the Star WolfEdit

An idea similar to hyperspace, called hyperstate, was introduced by David Gerrold in The Voyage of the Star Wolf. In this setting starships used artificially-produced gravitational singularities (the space-time distortions found at the center of black holes) to transition between normal space and so-called irrational space, where faster than light travel was possible. The primary limitation of hyperstate was that the resulting gravitational distortions could be easily detected by other starships, so stealthy movement at faster-than-light speeds was effectively impossible.

Warhammer 40KEdit

In the Warhammer 40,000 universe, "The Warp" as it is known, is a realm of unimaginable energies; a place where human thought can take physical shape in the form of daemons and other hideous terrors. Psykers (specially trained and conditioned individuals with strong psychic abilities) are needed to safely find paths through The Warp, to navigate the "twisting eddies and currents" of warp energy. Ships need special shields to keep the malevolent energies away from them, for if they come on board (which they sometimes do if the shields fail or particularly demonic and rituals or acts are performed, or if an untrained psyker attracts the attentions of the warp denziens accidentally), then the "creatures" that inhabit the warp can become real on board the real ship. This can be in the form of creatures that are manifestations of almost pure evil (think dozens of twisted claws, ravening mouths and more tentacles than you can shake a stick at), or by making a "host" of a human mind. In the former case, the warp-spawn are often immune to mere physical damage and must be dispached using specially blessed and sacred weapons; for instance the flame of a sacred flamer is like holy water to these creatures. For a fuller explanation see: Immaterium (Warhammer 40,000)


In the video game series Xenosaga for the PlayStation 2 console, people routinely travel long distances in space through hyperspace. Hyperspace in the Xenosaga universe is a realm of alternate space that looks like a long tube or column similar to a wormhole. In this space a starship can accelerate to faster than light speeds without experiencing the time dilation effects normally experienced when approaching the speed of light in normal space. Only spaceships equipped with a special force field can enter hyperspace, because exposure to hyperspace even for short period of time is hazardous to unprotected humans. In order to enter hyperspace a ship must go to a specific area in space known as a Column Area. Column Areas are places where ships can safely gate into and out of hyperspace. They can be found all over the universe and are separated by less than a day's travel at sub-light speeds. Navigating hyperspace requires entering a Column Area and finding a corresponding point within the universe-spanning navigation network known as the Unus Mundus Network (U.M.N.). The U.M.N. Transportation Gate management facility controls the use of Column Areas, and clearance must be granted before hyperspace can be entered.


Other forms of Hyperspace Edit

Other forms of hyperspace usually have the same properties, however, some allow travel throughout time as well as space (eg the Time Vortex). Popular names include warpspace, slipspace and subspace.

Slipspace is a method of travelling faster-than-light in the television series Andromeda. According to the show, a Gravity Field Generator drastically reduces the mass of the ship and then a slipstream drive opens a slippoint which the ship enters. The pilot then navigates the series of slipstream "tunnels" until they reach the desired slippoint where they exit the slipstream.


  • Surfing through Hyperspace: Understanding Higher Universes in Six Easy Lessons (Oxford University Press) by Clifford A. Pickover

See alsoEdit

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