In the first episode, BSG and the fleet are jumping every 33 minutes until mysteriously one of the ships doesn't jump.

My questions are:

  1. Why did the ship not make the jump with the others? There is no real answer except the girl in the guys head claiming responsibility.

  2. 238 jumps were done. Why couldn't they send each ship to a unique location, wait 30 minutes, then all jump on to the same location? I find it pretty implausible that they wouldn't at least try it, and wouldn't at least be suspicious that something was compromised.

  3. Why did it take 33 minutes every time?

  4. Were they jumping the same distance/direction each time?

  • 2
    I don't recall the particulars of the episode well enough to address your first 2 questions, but for number 3: The reason that there was always 33 minutes in between jumps is that was how long it took for the cylons to work out where they were and jump to that location. Are you asking why it always took exactly 33 minutes for the cylons to work this out, and why there was never any variation on how long it took them to work it out because of any changes in distance or direction?...
    – RuthP27
    Oct 29, 2013 at 8:19
  • 2
    Also re: number 2, I am a bit confused about your meaning, but you seem to be asking why they don't try to weed out the traitor by splitting up. My guess is they probably didn't want to increase the existing risk of losing population and/or resources through splitting up the fleet.
    – RuthP27
    Oct 29, 2013 at 8:44
  • 2
    @RuthP27: AFAIK there was a plan in the works to split the fleet but they were having a hard time maintaining a single mass jump every 33 minutes; computing two jumps was, perhaps, computationally prohibitive. Oct 30, 2013 at 22:47
  • @muistooshort: That's exactly right. It was a big ask, but increasing desperation meant they were just about to give that a go before the Olympic Carrier vanished. Sep 5, 2014 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


There is a pretty good episode synopsis on the battlestarwiki.

Your questions in order:

1) The ship that did not make the 238th jump was the Olympic Carrier. Why it didn't make the jump at the same time as the rest of the fleet was not explained,. However, it arrived at the jump coordinates 3 hours later. When nuclear alarms went off, indicating armed nuclear weapons were on board, President Roslin and Commander Adama ordered the ship destroyed. Cylons arrived 33 minutes after the Olympic Carrier, indicating that the Cylons were somehow using it to track the fleet.

2)The various ships within the fleet have different FTL capabilities. So the jumps needed to be short in order to not leave the least capable ships behind. Also, IIRC, they needed to reach one destination before they could begin plotting their next. Additionally, the continuous FTL jumps was putting a strain on the engines. After each jump, they calculated their next jump, but waited until it was actually necessary before taking it.

Additionally, the Vipers are not FTL capable, but they were flying patrols to protect the fleet. If the fleet split up, only Gallactica would have had any support from the Vipers, leaving all the other ships more vulnerable.

3) As to why it took the Cylons 33 minutes to find the fleet, episode writer Ron Moore explains:

The truth is, there's no real answer. It's just a random number that felt right when I came up with the idea that our people were under continuous, relentless attack since the end of the pilot. I wanted it to be a short interval, just long enough for them to grab a bite to eat, jump in the shower and maybe try to catch a catnap before dragging themselves back to their duty stations and begin the whole tedious, terrifying ordeal all over again.

  • 1
    I recall that the 33 minutes is the time it takes for the FTL to "spin up" again. It was explained in one of the later episodes as far as i can remember.
    – Cherubel
    Oct 30, 2013 at 12:16
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    @Cherubel: Helo says in He That Believeth In Me that the fleet's engines will take "at least half an hour" to spool up following the power outage, but that's probably not related as it was an entirely different situation and it doesn't really make sense for the core mechanic of 33 to be based solely on how long it happens to take Colonial FTLs to spool up. Dec 19, 2014 at 19:44

This question was asked two years ago but I was curious as well so I imagine I'm not the only one. Leatherwing did an excellent job answering questions 1, 2, and 3 (Well done!) so I thought I would chime in with an opinion as to a plausible explanation for 3 and 4 as they could well be related.

As to question #4, very likely the distance would be the same each time as the goal is to get as far away as possible without stranding the least capable ship. As to direction, any savvy military tactician would most likely not follow a straight line unless there was a frakking good reason for it! Logic, though, suggests the reason for recalculating a jump each time would be to avoid rematerializing or "jumping" in another mass such as what Raptor 612 did when it jumped into a mountain on Caprica in Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II and possibly avoiding gravitational wells as proposed by Asimov in Foundations or any other obstacles that would damage a ship making a FTL jump. If the goal is to avoid things, whatever those things might be, then a straight line would not be at all likely. But as to actual canon, it is not stated what course was followed and it really doesn't seem like a crucial plot point, neither does it raise any potentially critical plot holes in my mind.

As to question #3, I too wondered what would cause the exactness of the timing. In the pilot, Head 6 has Gaius note the Cylon transponder on the DRADIS console. While that particular transponder might not have had the capability to transmit signals long distance, the Olympic Carrier might have had one that could. In this case, it could theoretically take a certain amount of time for the signal to reach the Cylon basestars in pursuit depending on the distance the signal had to travel. If the fleet traveled the same distance each time, then it is highly likely that the signal travel time would be the same each time. I would make a note on this; in times of intense stress, we do not always tend to see the obvious like we would when we have plenty of time to ponder things. I could find it plausible that no one thought to vary the distance in order to see if it would change the time it took the Cylons to appear. Moreover, even if someone had thought of it, I am not sure knowing this fact would have provided any advantage to the fleet whereas being able to set a clock did at least give some advantage as to a somewhat reliable regularly scheduled down time.

I hope these opinion answers are good ones and hold up under scrutiny. And I would say that regardless of all the plot ponderings, the story was a superb one and well worth all the awards that were won!

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