Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine
- "They have opened a path to the stars for all of us."
- — Dedication to Tobias Fleming Shaw, ScD, QeD, FRS (January 30, 2220–November 10, 2317), and Wallace Fujikawa ScD, QEnD (April 20, 2215–February 18, 2318)
The Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine (SFTE), colloquially known as the slipspace drive, Shaw-Fujikawa drive and FTL drive, is a spacecraft propulsion system capable of making transitions to and from slipstream space and by extension allowing faster-than-light interstellar travel. The device functions by creating ruptures between normal space and slipspace. The nonstandard physics of slipspace allow it to be used as a shortcut realm, facilitating interstellar travel between distant regions in reasonable time.
The engine was developed in secret by a group of engineers and theoretical physicists led by Tobias Fleming Shaw and Wallace Fujikawa and once complete, was unveiled in April 2291. From that point onward, the drive became one of the most important technological innovations of humanity. The drive is not without limitations, however, although these may be partially because of slipstream physics rather than engineering imperfections.
By 2552, a vast majority of large human spacecraft of sufficient size were equipped with a slipspace engine, including most, if not all of the UNSC Navy's warships. Throughout much of humanity's colonial era and the Human-Covenant War, the technology was still limited and jumps typically took from several weeks to months, with longer jumps taking over half a year. By the end of the war, human advances in science and engineering, as well as captured Forerunner technology allowed for the construction of slipspace drives almost on par with those of the Covenant. The UNSC Infinity was capable of making slipspace transitions within an accuracy of one kilometer, and within one second of expected arrival time.
The Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine functions by creating ruptures, referred to in some sources as wormholes, between normal space and an alternate plane known as slipspace (also known as slipstream space and Shaw-Fujikawa space). The engine creates ruptures by using high-power cyclic particle accelerators to generate microscopic black holes. Because of their low mass, Hawking radiation gives them a lifetime of around a nanosecond (or potentially a little longer than a whole second) before they evaporate into useless thermal energy. In that nanosecond, the engine manipulates them into forming a coherent rupture between normal space and the slipstream. A major component of the drive is a set of "slipspace capacitors" which have to be charged before a jump.
The Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine generates a quantum field, which prevents the ship and its occupants from being directly exposed to the eleven-dimensional space-time of slipspace, instead translating the ship's presence to the foreign physics of the Slipstream and "squeezing" it through the higher dimensions. Maintaining the quantum field requires an enormous amount of constant calculations, with larger vessels requiring significantly more such calculations than smaller ones. For example, the slipspace translations for a Phoenix-class colony ship require 4.3 quadrillion calculations of the quantum field per second.
A human slipspace drive does not actually "accelerate" a spacecraft through slipstream space; this is performed by the ship's conventional reaction thrusters. Thus, ships with more powerful conventional engines are also faster within the slipstream. When active, a Shaw-Fujikawa engine emits alpha (helium nuclei) and beta particles (fast electrons). The coordination and plotting of slipspace jumps, referred to as astrogation, requires an enormous amount of calculations which require a navigation computer or an AI to successfully conduct. However, the basic jump parameters can be calculated by a human.
Dangers and risks
Human slipspace drives are considered black boxes which are very difficult to repair or maintain after they are activated for the first time. Kurt-051 considered slipspace drives dangerous, noting the aforementioned radiation and that spacetime was said to distort around an active device. Dr. Halsey also observed that in the past, several technicians had simply vanished while manually adjusting a drive. However, such adjustments were still often necessary by the late 25th century, as the superconducting magnets that aligned the drive's acceleration coils tended to drift out of phase and the electronic systems designed to control them often malfunctioned in proximity of the drive core due to exposure the warped laws of physics around the device.
A ruptured slipspace drive can create slipspace "splinters" in normal space, eventually consuming the drive and the entire ship which the drive was placed on. Mechanical failures like Slip Termination, Preventable, or STP, can also occur with Slipspace drives, usually resulting from poor maintenance. An improperly mounted Slipspace drive can also result in catastrophic accidents. This was the case with a colony ship en route to the Cygnus system around 2550: as a result of a maintenance failure, the drive transported half the ship into oblivion, killing 700.
The term "CODEN" originated as Doctor Wallace Fujikawa's cryptic name for the physics package installed at the core of the first Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine. Overtime, the term has come to refer to the field generators of any SFTE, with major improvements denoted by a series number. The Series III was installed in Phoenix-class colony ships, while the Series IV was common in frigates and destroyers, including Stalwart-class light frigates, Charon-class light frigates, and Diligence-class destroyers. The Series V was installed on the Halcyon-class light cruiser UNSC Pillar of Autumn before it was deployed for its final operation. Covenant slipspace drives were approximately equivalent to CODEN Series VI.
Saddle boxes are rare, specialized slipspace drives built only by the UNSC for use in military experiments with slipstream space. They are commonly built to resemble commercial slipspace drives in order to be inconspicuous.
Being more technologically advanced than humanity, the Covenant have numerous advantages in slipspace propulsion systems. Whilst the human Shaw-Fujikawa engine is said to “punch” a hole between realms using brute force, Covenant engines instead take a small rupture and delicately enlarge it with surgical precision. This allows the latter to execute far more accurate slips. Covenant slipspace drives are often referred to as "jump drives". In addition to their more powerful thruster engines, it has been theorized by the UNSC that Covenant drives generate several "microjumps" within a single slipspace transition to measure the dilation involved in a jump, allowing them to reach their destinations faster.
Covenant drives are generally more flexible and powerful than those of humans. They have thrice been seen to execute in-atmosphere slipspace transitions (although the first time the drive in question was controlled by a human AI). In addition, Covenant drives can execute successful slips even if underpowered.
Forerunner understanding of the mechanics of slipspace far exceeded that of the UNSC or the Covenant. They used small crystals embedded in their slipspace drives to manipulate slipspace, allowing smoother transitions. They had a superior grasp of reconciliation, the ability to correct or otherwise manipulate the causal effects of slipspace travel. This was useful when carrying out large-scale coordinated military campaigns or simply moving across enormous distances.
Forerunner ships are also extremely fast, as seen when the Mantle's Approach was able to travel from the vicinity Installation 03 to Earth in a matter of minutes. Forerunner ships rely on their energy shields to keep them safe during the journey unlike UNSC ships which rely on just their armor.
There have been several occasions where a Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine has been used for purposes other than those intended.
The UNSC has twice attempted to execute under-powered slipspace transitions. They were both unsuccessful, leading to the conversion of the trial spacecraft into “atomized bits”. In 2547, Dr. Catherine Halsey used the slipspace drive of the UNSC frigate Tripping Light to conduct an experiment on building an abstract fractal within slipspace for AI housing.
During her journey to Onyx, Dr. Halsey performed a risky manual adjustment on the drive of Beatrice through a minute turn of one of the drive's supercooled superconducting magnets, resulting in a 32-percent increase in coil power. She was also able to recapture the particle accelerator energy in the ship's plasma coils by plotting the exit vector through a saddle point in the mathematical function representing the jump trajectory, although there was a risk of coil overload involved.
Slipspace drives may also be used as improvised, if highly expensive, weapons of mass destruction. By momentarily generating an uncontrolled slipspace rupture within a kilometers-wide radius, the device forcibly transitions any matter in the affected area into slipspace. Projections of the Insurrection's escalation into a major war suggested that with unrestricted access to slipspace-capable craft, any hostile colony would turn them into weapons against Earth.
In 2531, the Spirit of Fire reused the nuclear reactor from its slipspace engine as an improvised bomb, in order to induce a supernova in the miniature star at the heart of Shield 0459. Sergeant John Forge was forced to stay behind and detonate it manually due to damage to it and the improvised bomb worked perfectly, destroying the Shield World after Spirit of Fire escaped. In the same year, the Office of Naval Intelligence used a partially deconstructed drive to cause Kurt-051's thruster pack to malfunction and send him flying into space so he could be secretly rescued and recruited into the SPARTAN-III program.
During the Fall of Reach in 2552, remembering an accident involving an improperly-mounted slipspace drive, Kat-B320 of SPARTAN Noble Team devised a plan to use the UNSC Savannah's slipspace drive as an improvised "bomb" to destroy the Covenant supercarrier Long Night of Solace, in lieu of nuclear weaponry, which was unavailable at the time. The bomb was transported by a Pelican into the hangar bay of the Covenant corvette Ardent Prayer, which was then hijacked and set on a refueling track with the supercarrier. The activation timer for the "bomb" was damaged in a firefight, so Jorge-052 stayed behind to activate it manually, while SPARTAN-B312 was forced out of the ship. When the slipspace drive was activated, a massive slipspace rupture was created, which caused Ardent Prayer, along with a large portion of Long Night of Solace, to be teleported into oblivion. With its entire midsection missing, the remains of Long Night of Solace crashed onto the surface of the planet Reach.
- The slipspace technology name Shaw-Fujikawa may have been another aspect of the inspiration Bungie derived from the sci-fi movie Aliens in which a prominent company in that film was a combination of the hyphened western and Asian surnames, Weyland-Yutani.
- In real-world physics, black holes have been identified as a possible vector for constructing traversable wormholes, specifically through the use of the Kerr metric.
Slipspace drive of the frigate UNSC Savannah.
The Spirit of Fire transitioning through slipspace. It should be noted that this depiction of slipspace is artistic license; canonically, slipspace appears as a pitch black void.
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List of appearances
- ^ a b Halo 3, multiplayer level Orbital
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 141
- ^ Halo Encyclopedia, page 43 (2011)
- ^ a b c Halo: Contact Harvest, page 24
- ^ Halo: Glasslands, page 68
- ^ Halo: The Thursday War, page 247
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 141
- ^ FoxNews: Scientists Not So Sure 'Doomsday Machine' Won't Destroy World
- ^ a b c Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 53
- ^ Halo: First Strike, page 192 (2003 edition)
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, pages 295, 376
- ^ Dr. Halsey's personal journal, December 25, 2534
- ^ Halo Wars: Genesis
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 23
- ^ Halo: Ghost of Onyx, pages 145-146
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 96
- ^ Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, "The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole", page 426
- ^ Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, "The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole", page 436
- ^ a b Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 145-146
- ^ Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - The Mona Lisa, page 332
- ^ a b c Halo: Reach, campaign level Long Night of Solace
- ^ Halo: Warfleet, p. 90
- ^ Halo: Warfleet, p. 49
- ^ Halo: Warfleet, p. 37
- ^ a b Waypoint: The Halo Bulletin: 10.10.12
- ^ Halo: Warfleet, p. 10
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Data Drop 5
- ^ Halo: Warfleet, p. 77
- ^ Spartan Ops, S1E3 Catherine
- ^ Halo: First Strike (2010), Tug o' War
- ^ Halo: First Strike, page 86
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 136
- ^ Halo: First Strike (2010), Tug o' War
- ^ Halo: First Strike
- ^ Halo 2, level Delta Halo
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 124
- ^ Halo: Silentium, pages 104-105
- ^ Halo: Primordium, page 240
- ^ Halo 4, level Midnight
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 225
- ^ Dr. Halsey's personal journal, September 4, 2547
- ^ Halo: Reach, Data pad 17
- ^ Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole, page 474
- ^ Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole, pages 484-485
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 152
- ^ Dr. Halsey's personal journal, December 4, 2510
- ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Reactor
- ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Escape