File:FTL Jump -- Battlestar Galactica (2004).jpg

Battlestar Galactica performs an FTL jump

An FTL, or "Faster Than Light", drive is a fictional propulsion technology from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica television series. It allows spacecraft to achieve faster-than-light travel.

The verb jump is commonly used to describe the process of travelling via FTL drive. Dialogue states that the drive itself is "spooled up" prior to use.[1][2]

The term FTL is commonly used in the original Battlestar Galactica film and television series. The term FTL is also commonly used when the show is being discussed by outside parties.[3]


According to producer interviews in the first-season DVD, the special effects director indicated that the FTL is a dimensional transport effect, where the ships instantaneously teleport from one place to another. Although other methods of FTL were considered for production, producers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore chose the dimensional jump effect over more complex ideas to keep things simple, under budget, and focused on the story.

During the events of "Islanded in a Stream of Stars", Boomer, who has abducted Hera and is on her way to the Cylon Colony states that it will take as many as a dozen FTL jumps to reach her destination from their current position.

FTL drives are fuelled by a refined version of the fictional ore tylium.[4]

Jump drives distort space in an area near where they are activated. Jumping while too close to another vessel can damage it.


Owing to difficulties navigating while using an FTL drive, ships wishing to make an FTL jump must calculate their speed, trajectory and jump duration prior to activating their FTL drive. Failure to do so can lead to ships jumping into poorly charted areas where sub-light navigation is difficult, or into dangerous areas such as those containing asteroid fields, gravity wells, or even inside a planet's atmosphere.[5]

A ship making a properly calculated jump can arrive safely in planetary orbit, or alongside other ships or spaceborne objects. Ships using the same calculations can also safely jump together. Non-calculated jumps (known as a "blind jump") are possible, as is risked by Admiral Cain aboard Pegasus during the Cylon sneak attack of the Scorpian Shipyards in the season two episode "Pegasus".[6]

Jump co-ordinates must be constantly updated to allow for changes in a ship's position, and for stellar drift.[7]


The safe limit of FTL travel for the Twelve Colonies is known as the "Red Line". A ship jumping beyond this line risks running into unknown navigational hazards, or going off course due to compound errors in its jump calculation.[8]

In the second half of Season 4, Galactica begins showing signs of metal fatigue and other problems associated with irreparable battle damage and age. Chief Tyrol advises Admiral Adama to avoid stressing the ship with additional FTL jumps.[9]

Cylon technology[]

Cylon ships are capable of more accurate jumps than Colonial ships[5], and they can also make longer jumps than Colonial craft of a similar size.[10] In "Lay Down Your Burdens", a Cylon Heavy Raider needs only ten jumps to Caprica, in comparison to the Galactica which needs over 200.

Cylons also use tylium ore as their fuel source.[4]

When the Rebel Cylons make a deal with Galactica's fleet, they offer to upgrade the Fleet's FTL drives so they can go as far and as fast as Cylon ships. Galen Tyrol says the upgrades are so complex they have to be done by Cylons. He also says the upgrade to Cylon drives would increase the efficiency of the jump drives by three times and triple the Fleet's jump distance.

See also[]

  • Jump drive


  1. "Mini Series, Part 1". Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries.
  2. "Scar". Battlestar Galactica.
  3. "Battlestar Galactica Glossary". Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The Hand of God". Battlestar Galactica.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Lay Down Your Burdens". Battlestar Galactica.
  6. "Pegasus". Battlestar Galactica.
  7. "Scattered". Battlestar Galactica.
  8. "Mini Series, Part 2". Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries.
  9. "No Exit". Battlestar Galactica.
  10. "Kobol's Last Gleaming". Battlestar Galactica.

External links[]

fr:PRL (Battlestar Galactica)