The early prototypes appeared in the late 22nd century, but it was a century later when Dr. Andre Morvan hypothesized their feasibility.
The hopper drive creates a powerful and focused matter-antimatter reaction, generating antigravitons that create a temporary space warp. The ship must be correctly positioned at the very edge of the reaction's event horizon, and hop across space instantaneously, across a distance of 20% to 35% of a light-year.
The earliest interstellar colonists and traders used hopper drives. Terran colonists had a success rate of 91% but Pilgrims (thanks to the Compass Savant abilities) could reach a success reaching 99%. Voyages still take a significant time in relation to the human lifespan. Therefore, hopper-ships are sometimes called "sloships".
Later the drive was obsoleted by the Akwende Drive, much safer and economical, used by most star-traffic. However hopper drives were used even into the 27th century by explorer and deep-space patrol craft.
- Space warps are localized and many hops are needed to transit between stars, resulting to an average effective rate of up to 10 times the speed of light
- Time must pass between each hop, more than 18 hours apart: time is needed to place a reaction-charge, to calculate the event horizon, to generate new energy from the ramscoop, and most importantly because hops disturb space and time, and both time and distance are necessary to get to a "quiet" to hop again. Furthermore, natural conditions might delay hops much longer, resulting even to a hop per day.
- If the ship is positioned too close (even a little) to the reaction, it will be "inside" the subspace when the warp closes, confined with the full force of the reaction and will be annihilated.
- The space warp must be created away from any gravitic distortion, otherwise it won't be closed, exposing the ship to the force of the reaction. The safe distance from Sol System for a hop, is about 1.25 times the outer limits of Pluto's orbit.
- ↑ Chris McCubbin, Official Authorized Wing Commander Confederation Handbook, A Theory on the Origin and History of Extraordinary Navigational Powers