Frame Shift Drive (also commonly referred to as FSD) refers to the modern method of traversing the Galaxy. For other iterations in Hyperspace technology, see Hyperspace.
In the late 33rd century a fast hyperspace mechanism was perfected that immediately made the Type 2b systems obsolete. Jump times were restored to mere seconds, but the advantages of longer range jumps retained. This was based on the, previously discredited, fast jump system developed for the ill-fated starship Antares. This new type 3 drive was also remarkably compact, allowing for installation on vessels that had never been able to mount a hyperdrive system before, even small vessels such as Sidewinders and Eagles were now able to jump independently. By 3300 virtually all of the type 2b drives had been decommissioned, with the loss of a number of ship classes that could not be retrofitted with the new systems due to design constraints.
These new drives required large quantities of the element Tantalum as a raw material in their manufacturing process, causing something of a Tantalum rush in the closing years of the century. This precipitated a number of hostile land grabs in systems where Tantalum was discovered or known to exist, including the well documented reclamation of the Prism system by Lady Kahina Tijani Loren.
Jump ranges greater than 50 light-years are now possible, and transit times remain mere seconds. The result is that the galaxy has been dramatically opened up to explorers at much lower cost than before. The Frontier has been pushed back, and systems that used to be on the fringes of civilization have found themselves in the suburbs of the Core Worlds once again. Trips that were hitherto considered impossible have now been achieved in relatively modest vessels. Notable journeys have included visits to the Sagittarius A black-hole and crossings to the far side of the galaxy itself. This technology has caused significant upheaval in the Core Worlds and the major powers, as the tactical situation with respect to the ability to deploy ships has dramatically changed.
In recent years it has been discovered that the Frame Shift Drive can be significantly enhanced by the injection of rare materials – a technique provided by various engineers located around the Core Worlds. They can also be 'supercharged' by strategically entering close proximity to the fierce emission cones of White Dwarf and Neutron stars. Many organisations are researching frame shift technology. One such company, Meta-Drive, was recently acquired by Sirius Corp after financial irregularities. Many believe that type 3 technology still has considerable development potential ahead of it.