- “They have opened a path to the stars for all of us.”—Tobias Fleming Shaw, ScD, QeD, FRS January 30, 2220 - November 10, 2317, Wallace Fujikawa ScD, QEnD April 20, 2215 - February 18, 2318
The Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine (SFTE, or slipspace drive) is a human spacecraft propulsion system capable of making transitions to and from slipstream space thus enabling faster-than-light interstellar human travel. The Covenant analogue functions on similar principles, but is referred to exclusively as a slipspace drive.
The engine was developed by a group of engineers and theoretical physicists led by Tobias Fleming Shaw and Wallace Fujikawa and was completed 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. Although these may be partially because of slipstream physics rather than engineering imperfections.
In 2553 the Tart-cart, a specialized Pelican dropship, was modified to use a slipspace drive. This is the smallest known spacecraft ever to use a Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine.
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 nonstandard physics of slipspace allow it to be used as a shortcut realm, Facilitating Interstellar travel between distant regions in reasonable time.
The engine makes 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.
It should be noted that 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.
It is unknown whether a slipspace drive has a role in accelerating a spacecraft through slipstream space, or whether conventional reaction thrusters are used. It is known that an engine remains active for the entire period that a spacecraft is in the slipstream, although its purpose during this period is unknown. When active, a Shaw-Fujikawa engine emits alpha (helium nuclei) and beta (fast electrons) particles.
Human slipspace drives were considered black boxes which were very difficult to repair or maintain after they went hot for the first time. Kurt-051 considered slipspace drives dangerous, noting the aforementioned radiation and that space and time 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. 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. Given their advanced technology, it is unknown whether the Covenant had a similar view.
The elements Selenium and Technetium are used to manufacture Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engines. In the 2490s, the colony of Levosia was suspected of diverting the said elements to the black market. The ensuing UNSC blockade of the system and the Insurrectionist reaction eventually led to the Callisto Incident, which is said to have effectively sparked the Insurrection.
There have been several occasions where a Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine has been used for purposes other than those intended.
- In 2531, UNSC Spirit of Fire reused its slipspace engine as an improvised bomb, in order to induce a supernova in the miniature star at the heart of a Shield World, Shield 0459. Sergeant John Forge chose to stay behind, because the Spartan Team was not expendable, and detonate it manually due to damage to it. The 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 armor to malfunction and send him flying into space so he could be secretly rescued and recruited for the SPARTAN-III project.
- 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”.
- Remembering an accident involving an improperly-mounted slipspace drive, Noble Team came up with a plan to use the drive of UNSC Savannah as an improvised weapon to destroy the CSO-class supercarrier Long Night of Solace, in lieu of nuclear weaponry which they did not have access to at the time. The "bomb" was transported via Pelican dropship into the hanger bay of the SDV-class heavy corvette Ardent Prayer, which was then commandeered by the Spartans, and set on a refueling course with the supercarrier. The activation timer for the "bomb" was damaged in a firefight, as such, Jorge-052 made the decision to stay behind to activate it manually, forcing Noble Six out of the ship. When the slipspace drive was activated, a massive slipspace rupture was created, causing the Ardent Prayer, along with a large central portion of the Long Night of Solace, to be teleported into oblivion. With its entire midsection missing, Long Night of Solace, or what remained of it, crashed into a mountain range on the surface of the planet Reach.
Being more scientifically and technologically advanced than humanity, the Covenant have numerous advantages in slipspace propulsion systems. Whilst the 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 drives are currently 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 A.I.). Although two human ships utilizing the Shaw-Fujikawa engine are suspected of having successfully executed an in-atmosphere slipspace transition, this has not been irrefutably confirmed. In addition, Covenant drives can execute successful slips even if underpowered.
Another massive advantage of Covenant drives is that they travel significantly faster in slipspace than their human counterparts. Although exact velocities are difficult to measure accurately, human drives typically cover between 2-3 light-years per twenty-four hours, while Covenant ships have been known to travel more than 900 light-years in the same time. Forerunner Dreadnoughts have been calculated at over 2,000 light-years per twenty-four hours.
The term for making a transition between normal space and the slipstream is “jump”. The term “slip” is also used. Halo Wars introduces additional terminology for the slipspace drive. It is referred to as an FTL (for "Faster Than Light") drive and FTL reactor several times, and the process of initializing it for a slip was referred to as “spinning up”. This may be an attempt to introduce more accessible nomenclature for newcomers to the Halo franchise, and is likely to be a reference to the TV show Battlestar Galactica as they also refer to preparation for use of an FTL drive as "spinning up". Another explanation is that the drive most likely requires time to power up the particle accelerators and reach the mini-black-hole-creating threshold. The accelerators are most likely circular, and the subatomic particles could be said to "spin" around the center of the accelerator. The term "FTL drive" is also used in the story The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole in Halo: Evolutions.
- The slipspace drive seen in Halo: Reach is much smaller than the one seen in Halo Wars. The reasons for this may be due to the Fact that UNSC Savannah was smaller than UNSC Spirit of Fire and may not have needed such a large drive or that since Halo Wars takes place 20 years before Halo: Reach, technology may have progressed to the point that slipspace drives were not as large. Something to be noted is that the Savannah is much smaller than the Spirit of Fire so the size of the FTL drive may depend on the size and class of the ship.
- Slipspace drives appear to emit an electro-magnetic pulse wave when activated, as seen during Operation: UPPERCUT when UNSC Savannah's drive activated on the Covenant corvette. A blue wave with arcing electricity expanded outwards, frying a nearby communications satellite.
- Another explanation for the size difference of FTL drives in Halo Wars and Halo: Reach may either be that UNSC Savannah's core had been removed from its casing in order to fit onto a Pelican or was a different model. Both could explain the two units' radically different appearance.
- Although the Covenant have a major advantage in terms of speed, the UNSC have the advantage of being able to use Slipspace drives in unorthodox methods, unlike the Covenant, only following the protocols that are sanctioned by their religion, are unable or unwilling to use.
- The elements that Shaw-Fujikawa drives use, Selenium and Technetium, are elements 34 and 43 respectively. Both of these make 7 if you add the digits. Furthermore, the sum of 34 and 43 is 77.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Halo 3, multiplayer level Orbital
- ↑ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 24
- ↑ Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 141
- ↑ http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,483477,00.html?=done
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 53
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Halo: Ghost of Onyx, pages 145-146
- “They had to repair the [drive] on the Magellan. It was a risky op. Those things aren’t meant to be taken apart once they go active.”
- ↑ Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe - The Mona Lisa, page ??
- ↑ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 24
- ↑ Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole, page 436
- ↑ Halo Wars, level Reactor
- ↑ Halo Wars, level Escape
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 225
- ↑ Halo: First Strike
- ↑ Halo 2, level Delta Halo
- ↑ 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
- ↑ Sliptream Space