Faster than light travel was any of a variety of mechanisms that allow change of position at a rate greater than the speed of light, which according to relativity theory is the maximum speed limit of any sort of matter or energy in the universe. While this is a law of physics and cannot be broken, there are a number of technologies that allow the same effect to be achieved without physically moving faster than light.
- Main Article: Space Warp
Space Warp technology involves actually warping the space in front of and behind the ship, changing the ship's relative position while technically remaining stationary. From the ship's point of view, this appears like incredibly fast motion through the stars. Some civilizations that use warp drive are the United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, the Cardassians, the Kryptonians, and many more.
- Main Article: Hyperspace
Hyperspace technology is where the ship leaves the Universe, often by creating a portal for itself, and enters an alternate reality, known as Hyperspace, in which the laws of physics differ. The ship then travels through this empty universe under a conventional engine, and when it emerges back into normal space, it's traveled a considerable distance. Civilizations that use hyperspace include the Galactic Empire, its predecessor and successor the Galactic Republic, the Ancients, the Goa'uld, the Asgard, and many others. (Star Wars franchise, Stargate franchise)
Additionally, some variants of this technology exist. The Andalites and Yeerks have Zero-Space engines, which operate on the same principle, but take the ship through Zero-Space rather than Hyperspace. While it is possible it's the same alternate reality but with a different nomenclature, this has yet to be confirmed. (Animorphs franchise)
The Protoss and Zerg also use a technology called Warp Space. Though it sounds like Warp Drive, it's actually more similar to Hyperspace technology in that it involves crossing into an empty universe, called Warp Space, and then emerging later. (Starcraft franchise)
- Main Article: Slipstream
Quantum Slipstream technology is another faster than light method which is similar, in principle, to Warp Drive but incorporates quantum mechanics. Rather than simply expanding the space in one region behind the ship and contracting it in one region in front, Slipstream expands and contracts space at many points, each at quantum scale, in front of and behind the ship. Civilizations using Slipstream include the Systems Commonwealth, and to some extent the United Federation of Planets.