6 Examples of Futuristic Space Travel
by Lynzee Loveridge,
Modern space travel is largely dictated by complicated math equations. Scientists have to carefully plot the trajectories of its satellite probes to utilize gravitational forces of other heavenly bodies. How else would we get the New Horizons to Pluto in only nine years? Manned spacecraft accomplishing anything near that distance seems millennia away. Our science-fiction anime counterparts have already figured this out by jumping into alternate realities, tearing holes in the fabric of space-time, or building space super highways to travel amongst the stars.
6. Starways (Heroic Age) Literal space highways called "starways" connect destinations to one another, allowing ships to travel at great rates of speed to their destination. Starways are like train tracks though, and ships aren't really supposed to leave them. It can be done, but it requires a Silver Tribe alien psychic to navigate. Otherwise ships are left to take the roads already traveled, so no off-road space exploration for humans here.
5. Munchausen Reactor (Outlaw Star) The ships in Outlaw Star have a lot of gadgets to make space travel manageable. There's a generator so crew members can walk around normally and items don't float off toward the ceiling and there's a classic "hyperdrive' device to blast the crew off to their next destination. The "Munchausen Reactor" (a reference to the classic character Baron Munchausen) is one such hyperdrive used by the Outlaw Star crew and many of the other travelers they encounter. The drive can only be used after leaving the gravitational pull of an object, so they don't do well for instantaneous escapes. When activated, the drive opens up "subspace" for the ship that is then able to "jump" to its chosen destination.
4. Folding (Macross F) The first time I read about folding space-time to benefit traveling long distances it was Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. Macross' space folding is kinda like that, but more of a mix of the classic hyperdrive and the alternate space system used in Cowboy Bebop's Astral Gates. The size of the object that can utilize Folding is limited, and obstacles exist within the alternate space that can screw everything up but otherwise it's a convenient way to "jump" long distances.
3. Alternate Universe Teleport (Space Dandy) The version of space travel used in Space Dandy might not qualify as "travel" at all. When characters in the series need to get from one location to another that are great distances apart, they activate the Aloha Oe's hyperdrive. Instead of opening a wormhole or bending the fabric of space-time, the ship transports the consciousness of the crew into their counterparts in an alternate universe. These counterparts happen to be in whatever the crew's intended location was and they continue about their business in their new, alternate timeline. Viewers find out in the first episode of Season 2 exactly who these alternates are and how much they vary from the "original" Dandy, Meow, and QT.
2. Astral Gates (Cowboy Bebop) The Astral Gate system is like an interplanetary super highway connecting planets like Mars, Venus, and the moon Ganymede. Spaceships can get from one locations to another within a matter of hours by paying a fairly inexpensive toll. The technology operates under the assumption of a rather complicated philosophical concept: that the universe only truly exists temporarily and phases out every 1/48th of a second. During this brief moment, a smaller more compact universe takes it place. The gates allow spaceships to travel through this more compact universe at 240 times the speed it would normally move and then phasing back into the actual universe at the next gate. This system has pretty significant risks. Anyone unfortunate enough to not make it out would find themselves trapped in the alternate space indefinitely and if you take a look at what happened to Earth and its moon in the series, the gates can also malfunction and cause total planetary destruction.
1. Plane Space (Crest of the Stars) The Crest for the Stars series should get an award for the most conceptualized futuristic space travel. Cowboy Bebop's was decently thorough, but you don't need a deep understanding of Relativity to grasp it. The idea is that while we exist in a reality with four dimensions, an alternate dimension exists with only three so time exists but it is otherwise "flat." Due to the lack of a third spacial dimension, people can travel through this alternate dimension via gates at much greater speed but also require special equipment to prevent being transformed into a spatially two-dimensional object. Humans and aliens alike utilize the Gates to jump from one place to the next. Ther are a lot of complicated physics involved, like vacuums and gravity working differently - it's enough to make your head spin!
When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.
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