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Jumpgate Technology

 Jumpgates, or Vortex Generators, are the miracle technology that allows interstellar travel, without resorting to problematic Faster-Than-Light (FTL) travel. These constructs "punch" a hole from realspace to hyperspace. The principles of jumpgate technology are considered universal; akin to that of fire, the wheel and nuclear power. Unknown to most races, jumpgate technology is of Vorlon origin. As part of their "sentient

 education program," the Vorlons (via their agents) introduced scientific concepts aimed at the discovery of hyperspace and jumpgates. While the basic concept is consistent across known space, its execution varies by alien race. Many races in our part of the galaxy were fortunate to discover jumpgates or jump-capable derelict ships in the outer edges of their solar systems (the Minbari and Centauri are the greatest examples of this). 

 Most jumpgates are designed with four seven-mile long generators; although other jumpgates use only three. These "brackets" are free floating with a central computer controlling the positional thrusters; these allow the brackets to re-position for larger than average ships and maintain a relative stationary position. After activation, a jumpgate usually takes five minutes to recharge itself, despite its massive fusion generators. As a consequence of such a power output, it takes a long time to shut one down and even longer to start it back up.

 The element Quantium-40 is a vital component of jumpgate construction. The chemical by-product of Q-40 is Duridium, which is easier to detect on planetary scans than Q-40. In 2258, the Earth Alliance faced a severe shortage of the element and had to acquire planetary rights from alien governments to prospect for more. Duridium nitrate is a commercially available explosive (only sold with chemical "tags" that allow it to be traced).

 Jumpgates can be used by any ship (though the control codes can, and usually are, changed in times of war). The jumpgate automatically bills the ship that uses it. The money goes to the government who installed the extremely expensive gate. The bill is applied against one's credit with the government in question. If you are not registered with that government, you pay when you arrive at one of that government's installations; a planetbound port or an orbital transfer facility. Trying to land anywhere other than these authorized zones to avoid payment is a bad idea; pilots are arrested and their ships are confiscated. Shipping companies buy access to the jumpgates in bulk, assign routes to their ships and then sell the surplus on the open market. They keep their schedules secret to protect against piracy.

 Once in hyperspace, the ship follows a lock-on signal generated by the jumpgate to which the entry point is linked. Not all jumpgates are linked to one another. However, one doesn't have to continually jump in and out of hyperspace to reach a certain destination. One can ride a lock-on, or hyperspace lane, from gate to gate to reach the desired exit point. In addition to the narrow hyperspace lane signals between the gates, jumpgates broadcast a homing signal that can be picked up a little over one-thousand kilometers away. This signal gives a three dimensional location for the gate and is a small safety precaution to aid ships that may have become lost in hyperspace. Dampening fields reduce the intertia gained by a ship entering and exiting the jump point somewhat, but ships must still decelerate to dock safely at a nearby port.

 A given jumpgate is limited in the number of lock-on signals generated, since too many signals will generate a lot of interference. As a consequence, an additional jumpgate (or more) is necessary in a system. In order to avoid the lock-on signal interference problem additional jumpgates must be placed far apart; forcing ships to travel in realspace for several hours or days to re-enter hyperspace.

 Detecting ships coming out of a jumpgate is limited by time. While you can get the frequency identification of a ship a few minutes prior to its exiting hyperspace, much more information can be gained just as it begins to exit to identify it; like silhouette, mass, etc.

 Most capital ships, like war cruisers and long-range explorers, are capable of generating their own jump point. Punching a hole into hyperspace requires a tremendous amount of energy, so they have to form the gate some distance away or risk being heavily damaged. Though it can be used as a weapon, it rarely is. Traditional military practice in a retreat is to form the jumppoint behind the ship. It is better to sustain several hits to the aft sections than to have one's escape route cut off.

 During the Earth-Minbari War, Human military strategists experimented with jumpgate technology's use as a weapon. One experiment conjectured the use of creating a jump point within an active jumpgate. It became known as the Bonehead Maneuver since no Earth ship could move out of the immense blast radius in time before being annihilated.

 Hyperspace travel is not limited to jump point entry. The Shadows have a highly advanced understanding of hyperspace physics that allows them to phase into and out of hyperspace. The Walkers use a type of hyperflux to enter and exit hyperspace.

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