- For the other meanings of slipstream, see Slipstream (disambiguation).
Quantum Slipstream was a starship drive used in two episodes of the science fiction television series Star Trek: Voyager, but the technology proved to be dangerously unstable, resulting in the loss of all hands of the USS Voyager (NCC-74656) in an alternate timeline. However, Seven of Nine stated that she would continue studying it in hopes of someday reacquiring slipstream travel.
"Slipstream: it's not the best way to travel faster than light, it's just the only way." — Dylan Hunt
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. Quoted from Allsystems.org:
- Since its discovery nearly 10,000 years ago by Vedran physicist Rochinda, the slipstream has connected the galaxies together. Slipstream is an extension of our reality, an additional dimension that's integrally intertwined with our own. The slipstream is a place where quantum connections are visible as cords, especially the large and strong connections like those between huge concentrations of matter such as planets or suns. A spaceship that enters the slipstream can harness the energy of these cords and ride them from one star system to another.
- One interesting thing about moving through the slipstream is that travel time between points has very little to do with the distance actually traveled. If a pilot is lucky, and the stream unfolds just right, the ship could transit between galaxies in minutes. But put an unlucky pilot at the helm and the same trip could take weeks or even months.
- Luckily for the cause of interstellar commerce and communication, the more a certain path is frequently traveled, the faster, easier and more predictable the journey becomes. As a result, frequently-traveled routes between major Commonwealth worlds -- Vedra to San-Ska-Re, for example -- are safe and convenient.
- Another unusual aspect of slipstream is the requirement of an organic pilot to guide a starship through the slipstream. At an intersection of pathways in slipstream space, both paths manifest the potentiality of being correct and incorrect. It's only when the pilot chooses a specific direction that this potentiality collapses and one path becomes right, and the other wrong. For reasons still not completely understood, organic beings tend to choose the correct paths, or more precisely, the very act of choosing makes the path they have chosen the correct one.
- But strangely, computers -- even ones with artificial intelligence -- are incapable of this reality-altering guesswork. Even the most sophisticated starship in the Systems Commonwealth requires an organic sentient to pilot through the starlanes -- a prospect some sentients regard as deeply disturbing but others find comforting.
Usually one has to enter and exit slipstream several times before reaching their final destination. Slipstream travel almost always results in very little or no time dilation.
Limits of SlipstreamEdit
Due to the complex nature of slipstream probability and difficulty in mapping slipstream, only biological entities are capable of successfully navigating it. Exiting slipstream near the edge of a galaxy or in certain regions of space could be dangerous because it is difficult to find a slippoint in these areas. If a slippoint cannot be found, or a slipstream drive is damaged, the ship is stranded and limited to slower than light speed.
In the game Halo, the Shaw-Fujikawa translight engine, invented by humans in the 24th century and used by the UNSC, uses an enormous amount of energy to create a wormhole, allowing ships to tunnel into "slipspace". Slipspace is a domain with alternate physical laws, allowing faster-than-light travel without relativistic side-effects. Faster-than-light travel is not instantaneous; "short" jumps routinely take up to two months, and "long" jumps can last six months or more.
The SFTE generates a resonance field, which when coupled with the unusual physics of slipspace, allows for dramatically shorter transit times between stars; however, scientists noted an odd "flexibility" to temporal flow while inside the Slipstream. Travel through slipspace is somewhat hard to comprehend, but if you can imagine 3-dimensional reality as a 2-dimensional piece of paper crumpled into a ball, it becomes easier. Slipspace allows you travel between two points by "leaping" between them. This is illustrated with the paper ball example, where surfaces may touch despite being topologically distant. Unlike a static paper ball, reality is free flowing and dynamic, much like a fluid, producing a degree of uncertainty in all jump calculations; more data is needed on the subject in order to more fully understand it. Though no human scientist is sure why travel time between stars is not constant, many theorize that there are "eddies" or "currents" within the Slipstream — there is generally a five to ten percent variance in travel times between stars. This temporal inconsistency has given military tacticians and strategists fits, hampering many coordinated attacks.
The Covenant have a very finely tuned version of this technology, and it is far superior to the UNSC's. Instead of simply tearing a hole into slipspace with brute force, their ships cut a very fine slit and can make it as large as necessary. They exit the same way, and can have pinpoint accuracy. They can even enter slipspace within planetary atmospheres, though this is highly damaging to the surface of the planet. Covenant ships use sensors that enable them to determine the gravitational field of any bodies surrounding the destination. The Covenant, however, are not aware of how powerful their technology actually is, which is an advantage for the UNSC. The ship A.I. Cortana has made multiple notes that the Covenant are imitative and not innovative; they only reverse engineer Forerunner technology instead of creating their own. That will likely be their downfall. Because of this pinpoint accuracy it is unknown if they can accidentally exit slipspace into another ship's position.
Humans have also observed comets that somehow manage to plow into slipspace. The reason for this occurance is currently unknown.
You do not actually travel faster than the speed of light in slipspace, you go the same speed you would go in normalspace. It seems like that because travel through slipspace is faster than normalspace so if you went somewere in normalspace in the same time it takes in slipspace you would be going faster than the speed of light.