Star Wars’ Hyperspace Explained

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Star Wars’ Hyperspace Explained
Han Solo and Chewbacca look out of the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, as it accelerates to Lightspeed in preparation to jump into Hyperspace.
Punch it!
Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Lucasfilm’s version of faster-than-light travel—hyperspace—is as fundamental to the worldbuilding of Star Wars as the Force. It’s the backbone of making its galaxy an interconnected universe of potential, a concept that has become more and more integral to some of the franchise’s biggest storytelling pushes. But how it works, and how people use it, has become more complex and fascinating than ever.


So What Is Hyperspace?

Hyperspace is one of the oldest elements of Star Wars we know, having first glimpsed it in action when the Millennium Falcon raced on its way from Tatooine towards Alderaan (or, what was left of it) in 1977’s A New Hope. Although the concept of faster-than-light travel is no stranger to science fiction, how Star Wars has started playing with it in recent years has made it one of its most quietly compelling worldbuilding mechanics. It can be charted, traveled, manipulated, even weaponized—and the very ramifications of using it outside of the expected point-a-to-point-b mechanics can upend what we thought we knew about the galaxy far, far away in an instant.

On its most simple level, hyperspace—not unlike Star Trek’s warp speed or myriad other sci-fi series’ take on interstellar travel—is an alternate dimension of reality that vessels (among other things) can slip in and out of at speeds unbound by the rules of physics in realspace. Accessible only by breaking the speed of light (jumping to lightspeed, as it’s known in Star Wars lingo), time and velocity operate differently in hyperspace, vastly reducing the time it takes to get from one point to another. Its discovery formed the possibility for galactic civilization as we know it in Star Wars to actually exist.