. Extended Universe information is in
Fold Navigation is a faster-than-light travel achieved by Fold-in
(the vehicle swaps three-dimensional space for the Super Dimension (a higher dimensional space), traveling therein at faster-than-light speeds, then Defolding
(swapping back from the Super Dimension to three-dimensional space).
Super Long Range Emigration Fleets go 35 to 100 ly per Fold. Due to the strain on the Emigrant Ship's resources and energy, some Emigrant Fleets require a referendum before folding—with the fleet's President or Mayor having emergency authority to initiate a Fold.
The advance ships in a Super Long Range Emigration Fleet that scout the route ahead usually do it in advances of 10 to 35 ly per Fold.
In general, the more energy used to initiate the Space Fold (hereafter Fold), the farther one can travel. The amount of energy available also limits the range one can travel via Fold Navigation. It is common practice to divide a journey between multiple Folds, with pauses between the individual Folds to build up the energy required for the next Fold.
Fold Faults are the main hazard in Fold Navigation. A ship is lost if it Folds through a Fold Fault. In order to pass through a Fold Fault, the vehicle must Defold and travel through it using other means of propulsion. Once through, Fold Navigation can resume.
Super Fold Boosters and Super Fold Drives are not effected by Fold Faults. In addition, their speed in the Super Dimension is considerably faster—thereby allowing faster travel times over great distances. Super Fold technology was introduced in 2059.
Fold Speeds/Travel Times
In-Universe Technology Limitations and Abilities
Fold Carbon: needed for Fold Drives, Fold Communication, etc.
Fold Quartz: needed for Super Fold Drives, near instantaneous Fold Communication (out to N distance, not inhibited by Fold Barriers [E.g.: Fold Faults], etc.)
The following are an agreed-upon set of constants, such as how long it takes for a Fold Communications transmission to reach the destination over a set distance, how fast/far a space fold is, and so on.
Not including travel distance limitations of the Fold Systems nor increased transit times due to Fold Faults.
- Normal Fold Technology:
- 1 ly every 2 hours (Fold Booster: approx. 1 light year every 90 min + recharge time)
- 100 ly: 200 hours (8 days & 8 hours)
- ships MAY be the same or 1/2 of that rate
- some ships—such as the Varōta High Speed Cruiser—are 1/3 to 1/4 of that rate
- Super Fold Technology:
Reduces Fold travel times to 1/10 (so a 10 day trip becomes a 1 day trip)
- 1 ly every 12 minutes (Super Fold Booster: approx. 1 ly every 9 min + recharge time)
- 100 ly: 20 hours
Fold Travel Times
The majority of Fold travel is via normal Fold. This is especially true for bulk cargo and economy class transports. Only the most expensive couriers, transports, or elite government leaders and military forces have access to Super Fold Drive equipped vehicles.
*The following is based on Sector M45-3. Refer to the Sector M45-3 & Vicinity Map and Main Unified Government Territories Map for context.
- Cloversheen to Christos (one side of M45-3 to the other)—approx. 50 light years
- regular Fold, non-stop: approx. 75 hours (3.13 days)
- regular Fold, with stops*: approx. 100 hours (4.17 days)
- Super Fold, non-stop: approx. 7.5 hours
- Super Fold, with stops: approx. 10 hours
- Stepan to New Sahara (one end of M45-3 to the other)—approx. 100 light years
- regular Fold, non-stop: approx. 150 hours (6.25 days)
- regular Fold, with stops*: approx. 200 hours (8.33 days)
- Super Fold, non-stop: approx. 15 hours
- Super Fold, with stops: approx. 20 hours
- Earth to Midway (center of M45-3)—approx. 450 light years
- regular Fold, non-stop: approx. 28.125 days (4.01 weeks)
- regular Fold, with stops*: approx. 37.5 days (5.36 weeks)
- Super Fold, non-stop: approx. 67.5 hours (2.81 days)
- Super Fold, with stops: approx. 90 hours (3.75 days)
* recharge, Fold Fault delays, alternate routes, whatever
Space Fold Mechanics
Note: the following has been de-emphasized due to the changes in Space Fold Travel introduced in Macross Frontier (E.g. Fold Faults).
Though Macross has named its FTL (Faster Then Light) travel as Space Folding, it is only a Space Fold in name. The means of FTL in Macross has very little in common with a true space fold drive
The Space Fold in Macross is more akin to entering a kind of hyperspace (the Super Dimension), and using that to travel great distances in a short period of time. The Space Fold itself is the means that a vehicle uses to enter and exit hyperspace.
In addition, a vehicle erects a Space Fold Field around itself during transit through hyperspace. This is due to hyperspace having intensely different physics then real space. The Space Fold Field is used to retain a small patch of real space in hyperspace. If the Space Fold Field collapses while in hyperspace, the vehicle, its contents and crew will experience the physics of hyperspace—the most likely effect on the crew is instant death.
Hyperspace and real space are both completely separate and connected to each other. The connection that concerns Fold Drive travel is gravity. It is the one constant that remains unchanged in hyperspace. Therefore, travel through a gravity mass means that the same gravity forces present will affect the patch of real space in the Space Fold Field—if it's a crushing gravity, then the vehicle in the midst of a Space Fold will be subjected to that crushing gravity.
This is a universal constant with the Space Fold Drives used by the Zentrādi and Unified Government. However, it is unclear if the Protoculture, Inspection Forces, or Protodevilun have developed a means to protect their vehicles from crushing gravity while in hyperspace.
The Protoculture developed and incorporated into the Zentrādi ships a mathematical formulae for determining the safe distance required for Space Fold Travel past gravity masses. The Unified Government has adopted this formulae, and use it for determining the safe travel distance from gravity masses.
Zentrādi and Unified Government Space Fold Drives are unable to travel in anything but a straight line. Therefore, to travel to the opposite side of a large (gravity) mass (Eg: a red giant), the travellers must make two Space Folds. The first to a point outside of the danger zone, which is within line of sight of both the origin and destination points, and the second to the destination.
For longer range between Emigrant Planets, where numerous (gravity) masses exist, requires a series of Space Folds until arrival at the destination point.
The above applies to charted and documented space. In uncharted space it is an entirely different story. The Unified Government does have access to Zentrādi star charts. However, due to galactic drift and inconcise mapping in the first place, the Zentrādi Star Charts are considered "risky", at best. The Unified Government has adopted a policy of exploring and creating their own Star Charts based on strict scientific observation, guided by the Zentrādi star charts.
For the exploring UNG vehicles, it means a long, tiresome, repetitive cycle of defolding, scanning an area1, and then Space Folding in the direction of travel to the edge of the sensor reading. The effect of this is a well documented route. Though, the common practice2 of Unified Government exploration means that a lot of the routes are not the most direct paths, and tend to be roundabout.
1 Long enough to determine the solar objects in the area, what their gravity effects are, and their direction and rate of movement. Eg: the M15 fleet took about 3 months to get to where it is. However, the return trip requires only about 3 weeks to get back to Earth.
2 The practice is to move towards regions or stellar objects of note. Eg: star systems with planets potentially able to support a colony, tactical considerations (defense/offence) and known Protoculture ruins.