Jump Gates

Jump Gates are large, expensive and complicated structures that allow for vastly more rapid and reliable FTL travel by providing anchored starting and ending points for a jump path, as well as maintaining accurate and up-to-date charts of local trajectory distortions. Jump gates regularly allow for travel times an order of a magnitude smaller than those achieved with unassisted jumps at a similar technology level. Some gates allow vessels without their own FTL drives to make a jump, some do not, either way the true expense of a jump gate lies in setting up and maintaining a permanent mapping infrastructure to keep the coordinates the gate uses up to date.

Jump gates play a significant role in interstellar trade and military strategy; a jump gate link means cheap and fast travel for trade and troop movements. This, combined with their relative fragility, makes them prime targets for an attack and as such they are usually the most heavily defended non-inhabited object in a system. Their fragility is further increased by the increased fluctuations in jump-deviation that comes with being close to a moving gravity well such as a planet, leading to most interstellar jump gates being placed at the edges of a system.

Interstellar travel is not the only purpose of a jump gate, important hub systems or manufacturing and population centers may have in-system jump gates as well, connecting the remote interstellar links with the inhabited worlds. Although usually links wuld be impossible to maintain in the face of the rapidly changing gravity wells created by a system of large, orbiting bodies like planets, the relative predictability and short range of such links make them feasible.