- Description: Using a matter/anti-matter reaction (specifically deuterium/anti-deuterium for the Federation, Klingons, and others), a dilithium chamber to control the immense power released, a warp field is created the pushed the sip through space, using the fabric of subspace to move the ship at superluminal speeds without the time-dilation effects seen with going faster than light conventionally.
Pros: Course corrections can be made at speed without the need to drop out of warp, acceleration/deceleration is near instantaneous due to not using direct thrust as the ship is stationary within its warp field.
Cons: realspace navigational hazards (planetary bodies, stars, black holes, etc.) require course corrections, dangerous reactants being used can potentially become unstable, and extremely slow. Using the TNG scale, Warp 9.975 would take 120 years to fly the entire diameter of the galaxy (roughly 1,000 ly per year), needs subspace intact to work (Omega PArticle), damages subspace with excessive speed.
- Description: Used exclusively by the Borg, with the Federation having experimented with it previously. The term is applied to any drive that overcomes the traditional limitations of conventional warp drive. The Borg use either pre established conduits or a transwarp coil to travel at extreme speeds, nearing or meeting infinite velocity.
Pros: Extremely fast, travelling the length of the galaxy within minutes, no realspace navigational hazards are entirely avoided.
Cons: If the conduit collapses, or the transwarp network is disrupted, travel using this drive become restricted, travel at this speed is detrimental to human DNA without proper shielding.
- Description: A massively complex system that requires relativistic shielding to protect the ship from the different time-space physics of hyperspace. Uses a jump to lightspeed to enter hyperspace.
Pros: Extremely fast, allowing travel in hours or days across the entire galaxy depending on the speed of the drive being used.
Cons: Requires established routes to use as navigational hazards may be present on unknown routes. Cannot be activated near a gravity well, allowing ships to be pulled out of hyperspace and ambushed by malicious forces, any failure of a safety system is considered fatal, cannot change course in hyperspace, requiring to drop out before a course correction can be made.
- Description: Uses the hyperdrive to open a window into hyperspace allowing for extremely safe and efficient faster than light travel. Can be used for interstellar or intergalactic travel. Speed depends on drive effeciency and available power.
Pros: Extremely fast, real space navigational hazards are not an issue inside hyperspace.
Cons: Radiation is detrimental to organic material, cannot change course in hyperspace, requiring to drop out before a course correction can be made.
Faster-Than-Light Engine (Destiny & Seed Ships):
- Description: A faster than light engine that uses means other than hyperspace to exceed the speed of light. It's speed and full capabilities are unknown, as the only examples of these drives are millions of years old and have been travelling deep into intergalactic space since it they were launched.
Pros: Fast and efficient, able to traverse great distances, needs very little maintenance, even after several million years of continuous use.
Cons: Shields are required to operate as the stresses on the ship's hull are too great, drive requires 4 hours of use before shutdown and a four hour cool down time before the drive can be reactivated (may be due to age), highly susceptible to realspace navigational hazards, and requires foreknowledge of the course its on.
Wormhole Drive (Experimental, City-Ship Atlantis):
- Description: Basically the concept of the stargate attached to move a ship great distances without said stargate, opening a wormhole and traveling through it for near instantaneous travel from point A to Point B.
Pros: Near instantaneous travel between two points in space.
Cons: Needs a massive amount power (needs the output of 3 ZPMs), requires strictly exact calculations to create the wormhole and have the exit aperture in the right place.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (RDM)
FTL Drive (Jump Drive):
- Description: This drive uses some process (not really explained, but it involves magnets and a gyro) that appears to fold space on itself, allowing for an instantaneous jump (>1 second) from point A to point B.
Pros: Near instantaneous travel between two points in space, not effected by realspace navigational hazards during travel, cannot be attacked during jump.
Cons: Drives are required to spin up before they can be used, calculations need to be exact and cannot be pushed beyond a "red-line" where calculations become prone to errors, thus the drive's distance is limited by the capability of the computers to calculate a safe jump, jumping inside a structure or object (like a mountain) is possible if calculations are off, jumping too close to another ship can cause damage to the other ship, larger ships send out a softer shockwave, whereas fighters/small transports send out a sharper, more damaging shockwave which can cause catastrophic damage at close range, weakened structural integrity can make a ship incapable of jumping, as the forces are too great for the hull to handle (see Daybreak, Pt II).
- Description: Uses a jumpgate or independent drive to open a hyperspace window, hyperspace shortens the distance between known points in realspace, uses navigational beacons in hyperspace to mark the point in real space. Sublight propulsion is used in hyperspace.
Pros: Fast travel, allowing for travel to the other side of the galaxy within a week, .
Cons: Entrance and exit apertures cannot exist in the same position, the results can be catastrophic, entrance and exit apertures are one way only, and can destroy a ship entering an exit aperture or vise versa, loss of navigational control (or losing contact with navigational beacons) can lead to being lost in hyperspace forever, visually disorienting known as Hyperspace Travel Syndrome, using a known network of jumpgates allows for ambushes to be arranged.
I personally see the hyperdrives form Stargate as the safest, most practical type of FTL Drive. They're fast, energy practical, and can travel in between galaxies, unlike the other drives listed here. They're also less prone to accidents and have more unconventional uses, like opening a hyperspace window to let an asteroid safely pass by a planet, or for bypassing the shields of an enemy supership using a short burst.
I would say the least safe one is the warp drive considering how much crazy shit happens when it's overused.(speed limit anyone?). Also the simple fact of the matter/anti-matter reaction being as dangerous as it is makes this one of the more volatile drives in use in science fiction.
So, which drive do you guys think is the best, or the most practical, or did I miss anything? Cause I know there are more than five sci-fi shows that use FTL Drives. Any additions to this list would be awesome! But if you do add something to the list, please be sure to provide a link to the appropriate wikia.