Hyperdrive

For a science fiction writer, hyperdrive is a great way to get the protagonists to some distant alien world in the nick of time.  By which I mean that the journey isn’t ten chapters of a guy talking to his droid.

That being said, faster-than-light drives such as hyperdrive are limited by the technology available.  It’s not just about how fast you can travel in a straight line.

Traditionally in science fiction, strong gravitational fields present a hazard to hyperspace travel which must be navigated around.  Even if you could just go through, what happens if your drive suddenly cuts out and dumps you out into the middle of a star?

So as well as being able to go really fast, these explorers need to be able to map out those obstacles and find the best path, and presumably either correct their trajectory on the fly while in hyperspace, or periodically drop out into normal space and re-align for the next jump.  Being explorers they may want to drop out anyway to chart solar systems, or make contact and trade with advanced space-faring civilisations like their own.

Undertaking an expedition beyond our own galaxy doesn’t necessarily present the same obstacles, but it does require a reserve of food and supplies, a very fast drive, and some way to power it indefinitely.  In Stargate Atlantis for example, when the Daedalus makes a supply run from Earth to the Pegasus galaxy it takes three weeks.  That works out to a velocity of equivalent to 15000 times faster than light.  That is insanely fast.

And now, a scary text entry box looms before you. What do you do?