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What's faster: a warp drive from Star Trek, or a hyperdrive from Star Wars?

marked as duplicate by Valorum star-wars Mar 21 '17 at 22:33

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    This is leaning towards a shark vs gorilla question - could do with some revision – user8416 May 3 '13 at 10:09
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    Neither. Ludicrous Speed! – Izkata May 3 '13 at 11:01
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    Gorilla. Clearly. – joshbirk Mar 6 '14 at 23:14
up vote 24 down vote accepted

You can't even compare the two. Hyperdrives allow you to travel around the galaxy in a matter of days whereas warp drives take decades, requiring numerous refueling operations along the way. However, the disparity between the two technologies stems more from the style of the two franchises than anything else:

Star Wars is an action saga, and people needed to get places fast. The Millennium falcon still manages to fly from Hoth to Bespin in the Empire Strikes Back even without its hyperdrive. Clearly this makes absolutely zero scientific sense, but that's Star wars: it's more science fantasy than Science Fiction.

Star Trek on the other hand is (or at least was before JJ Abhrams) a cerebral, slow, nerdy, and mostly serious franchise where the believe-ability of the technology and science is an important part of the show. The warp drive is limited because it actually could exist under our current understanding of physics.

So while hyperdrives in star wars are infinitely more powrfull than warp drives in star trek, the comparison is a nonsensical one. It's like pointing out that the TARDIS is faster than the space shuttle--DUH.

Also, it should be noted that hyperdrives, while exceptionally complicated pieces of equipment, are essentially one device. You can buy one as a unit, as evidenced by the Phantom Menace. Warp drives on the other hand (at least ones of any meaningful power) are massive integrated systems involving nacelles, a warp core, antimatter pods, plasma coolant, and a lot more. This makes warp drive much more difficult to maintain.

The only advantage for Warp Drive I can think of is that apparently travelling by hyperdrive is very risky if one's navigational calculations are off. To quote Han Solo:

Traveling through hyperspace isn't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?

The warp drives systems take care of this via the navigational deflector. However, should the deflector be damaged, the ship will sustain serious damage at high velocities, as in The Year of Hell.

Also, Warp Cores can explode catastrophically if antimatter containment is lost, making them a very juicy target in combat. I do not believe that Hyperdrives share this weakness.

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    Assuming, our galaxy and the galaxy far-far away have same size.. – Newt Scamander May 3 '13 at 7:58
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    Star Wars ships have a 'backup' hyperdrive in case the main one fails... – user8416 May 3 '13 at 10:08
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    @SachinShekhar I think that if the SW and ST FTL were of comparable speed and SW just had a smaller galaxy, the SW galaxy would have collapsed into a black hole long before intelligent life could have had time to evolve >_> – jono May 3 '13 at 10:30
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    IIRC, it was established a while back that the SW galaxy is slightly larger than the Milky Way. This, however, may no longer be canon (since Disney). – Jeff Jun 7 '15 at 13:40
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    @Naib: The starkiller base fires through hyperspace because reasons. No, seriously, that's the explanation: it fires through hyperspace. But we've seen far too many galactic maps with charted courses for it to be a single large star system. – Jeff Apr 25 '16 at 2:15

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