Generally stated in Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, published in the year 1915 AD (circa -865 NC), and modified by later theories such as Kaluza Klein and Supergravity, space is not simply a vacuum, but is in the form of a unified spacetime, existing in some eleven dimensions. Mass, energy and momentum can curve spacetime. A simple two-dimensional analogy usually given is that of large heavy masses sitting on a rubber sheet - the masses cause the sheet to divot in the region around themselves.
It can be reasonably intuitive that given the fluidic nature of the spacetime "fabric" that large-scale curvature can occur. Under these conditions, two distant points in three-dimensional space can actually be quite close together in eleven-dimensional spacetime. A simple analogy for this: a worm crawling over the surface of an apple - two points can seem quite distant along the surface, but can actually be quite close if the worm burrows through the apple. If two points are in close proximity in this fashion, then by some process not fully understood, a tunnel is formed in spacetime, joining these two points, similar to the worm burrowing through the apple. This tunnel is called a Wormhole. Travel through wormholes is virtually instantaneous.
The natural process which forms wormholes is quite random - as well as not being fully understood, a wormhole can join to a different part of space at different times, and are rarely located in convenient places. Hypergates are a means of artificially inducing a wormhole exactly in a desired position, and going to a desired destination.
Hypergates and hyperspace technology was invented by Omata Kane, who realised that application of exactly the right kind of energy to a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) would cause curvature of space. Each leaf of the hypergate structure is composed of BEC, and is powered by a fusion reactor at the centre of the leaf. When power is applied, the leaves twist space between them - the direction of this twist can be directed at another gate by fluctuating the power input.
When the focal point spacetime pressure (which today is measured in Kanes) approaches zero, the leaves unfurl, pushing the focal point through hyperspace in the direction intended. The provision of another gate at the far end of the newly-created artificial wormhole aids in stability, but it is not required - indeed, the first exploration probes were sent without gates, as there were none in the area where the probes were being sent. Like wormholes, travel through hypergates is instantaneous.
The leaves of the hypergate may even be detached from each other and pulled away from the focal point using tugboats - this allows much larger vessels, like the Deimos-Class Colony Ships to pass through.
The hypergate system was invented by Omata Kane prior to the beginning of the NC dating system - the exact date is unknown, due to the loss of much scientific knowledge during the long dark ages. Omata Kane also discovered a procedure for producing large amounts of BEC for little expense, and this directly enabled the construction of the hypergate system.
The first hypergate to be built was the gate in the Sol system. Once complete, hyperspace probes were sent out of the system using the gate, and these probes then traveled to other star systems in small hyperjumps. Each probe was equipped with an Ansible-style superluminal communication device for reporting back findings. When the probes found habitable systems, teams of engineers with raw materials were sent to rendezvous with the probes, and there they built hypergates in those systems. The hypergates both allowed the return journey to Earth, and also much more precise and accurate travel between the two gates.
The first hypergates were the big five links from Sol that are still present in today's hyperspace maps - the systems that would eventually be known as Nesre Primus, Nesre Secundus, Tichel, Alphara and Kerella. From these new systems, more probes were sent out, until there was a long chain of gates linking the systems from Kania to South Manchester and beyond - this chain was called The Spine. Later, smaller links were added, joining systems such as Wolf 359 and Tau Ceti to Sol. During this period of exploration, the Colonial Council was formed.
Once much of the space around Sol was settled, the next step for the Colonial Council was to settle the southern region of the galaxy, the area known today as the Auroran Empire. Hyperspace probes found the planets that today are known as Aurora, Moash, Heraan, Tekel, Dani and Vella. Auroran space was settled using the huge Deimos-Class Colony Ships - these ships contained everything that was needed to start a new colony without support from the Colonial Council. The ships were so large that the leaves of the Sol gate were detached, and the diameter of the gate stretched out to almost five kilometers.
Around this time, the Sigma Corporation began to monopolise Omata Kane's methods for producing BEC - when it came time to settle the new systems, Sigma would only produce enough BEC to create one gate at each location. Once the new colonies had settled their new systems and built their hypergates, they immediately requested more BEC in order to continue their explorations. Sigma refused, but instead supplied the colonies with small micro-factories, which could produce enough BEC to power hyperdrives. Thus Auroran space was explored by humans flying hyperdrive-capable ships, making jumps into the unknown.
The expedition initiated by Kerell Polaris left Colonial Council space shortly before Sigma's monopoly began, and thus they took knowledge of BEC production with them.
The great age of exploration ended in 670 NC, when the Armetis terrorist group destroyed the hypergate in the Sol system, damaging much of the Kane Band, including Sigma's BEC production factories. The destruction of the hypergate also caused an energy backlash which traveled through hyperspace, damaging hypergates and destroying other hyperspace technologies as it spread. This caused the long dark age and resulted in the loss of much technology that still has not been recovered today. For example, though knowledge of hyperjump technology has been regained, along with the ability to repair hypergates, scientists no longer know how to create the large amounts of BEC needed to produce new hypergates, even among the Polaris.
Today, Sigma still holds a monopoly over the hypergate system, but much of what had gone before has been lost.
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The hypergate system is very valuable once a player has gained access to it; the remaining hypergates are still spread throughout the galaxy, so one can get across the galaxy very quickly. Many United Shipping couriers find this very useful to complete their shipments on time.