Hyperspace Communications


All interstellar ships have the ability to send and receive interstellar communications using a sub function of their Hyperspace Field generator (part of the Hyperspace Drive (HSD). Each HSD has a unique Hyperlynium vibration frequency (HVF) signature determined by the Hy fragment in the field generator which both identifies the sender and allows communications to be directed to it. Altering the HVF signature requires changing the Hyperlinium (Hy415) fragment which is atronomically expensive. Only military vessels are likely to carry a spare Hy fragment as a matter of course. Ordinarily the manufacturers of HSDs register with the local authorities the unique HVF of the drives as they are built, and it is also normal practice for polities to require all foreign interstellar vessels that wish to operate within their space to register their HVF signature for use by space traffic control, the emergency services, border authorities, customs, police etc. HVF signatures are given a unique user friendly alias by the registering authorities, usually the ship’s name, with military vessels having the appropriate prefix – HMS, ESS, XS etc – and civilian ships the suffix for the planet where they were registered e.g. ‘SS Bounty AST’ and ‘SS Bounty NMS’ registered on Asteel and New Mars respectively.


Because HSDs cannot function within the M25, direct interstellar communication is not possible within the gravity well of a system where all communications are via conventional means: laser, microwave, radio etc. Sending an interstellar message from within the M25 requires first transmitting that message to a HSTS or IS capable ship acting as a communications hub stationed outside the outside the M25 for relay onwards to the destination – either another IS capable ship or HSTS. The signal wave travels out from the transmitting device at twice the speed a ship travels through hyperspace and it remains in hyperspace until downloaded by the HSD it was addressed to, at which point the signal dissipates. A functioning HSD will download signals automatically when it can, but malfunctioning decoding equipment can cause the permanent loss of a message. For this reason it is normal practice, where possible, for repeat signals to be sent every 24 hours for 5 days. The repeat signals carry the same message identifier as the original and so any copies are ignored by the receiving decoder.

Received messages do not carry the HVF signature of the sending HSD. There is no ‘Reply’ option. Therefore, extensive use is made of authentication codes to verify that the message is actually from who it says it is from.

Hello Universe

To send a personal IS communication you need to know two things: 1) the personal address of the individual you want to contact; 2) the alias for the local HVF signature they are using, which is either the ship they are on or the system they are in. Messages to ships are either addressed to a user group on the ship itself, such as ‘Customer Relations’, ‘Bridge’, or ‘Officers’, or to an individual on the ship via a signal packet. Appropriate encryption and access controls are in place to ensure only the intended addressee reads any communication. There is always a default user group on a ship which is used for all day-to-day operational communications.

Civilian Communications

Civilian IS ships have their HVF signature publically registered to allow anybody to communicate with the ship or, more usually, an individual onboard. Some ships are ‘ex-directory’. Large commercial operators often like to control all communications to their ships, and they do this by substituting the actual HVF signature associated with the alias in the public register with the address for their local company communications hub which then forwards the message. The process is seamless to the user and any delays in transmission are normally minimal. One reason for doing this is to filter out spam.

IS ships spend weeks within the gravity well of a system – travelling between their destination and the M25, loading/unloading cargo, supplies and personnel etc. During this time they are unable to receive IS communications. To get around this problem it is common practice for two (or more) identical communications to be sent, one addressed to the ship itself and one to the HSTS of the system(s) the ship is scheduled to visit. When arriving/leaving a system ships check-in/out with space-traffic control and one of the purposes of this is to set-up message forwarding with the local HSTS. Of course, some frontier systems do not have an HSTS, or space traffic control.

Military Communications

It is normal practice for the HVF signature, but not the alias, of military ships to be kept secret and to be shared only with allies to enable the efficient functioning of allied fleets. Since the SHC has decreed that in the interest of transparency and as a confidence building measure the HVF signatures of any vessel serving in a JAC fleet is known to all other vessels in that fleet, the HVF of ships that have served in JAC fleets is known to the militaries of all polities.

Military IS communications operates in a similar manner to its civilian counterpart, except that transmission is usually handled by a dedicated military HSTS and all shore to ship messages go through a military communications hub. It is also normal fleet practice to leave a comms ship – often the logistical support vessel – on the M25 when fleets are operating in system so as to maintain IS communications with HQ and other fleets.