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Given the lack of any evidence either way, I'd always gone on the assumption that the seed ships were sent just a short while ahead of Destiny.

However, the fact that Novus had a gate (as did other planets in the region) 2,000 years before Destiny reached the area contemporaneously would suggest that the seed ships were at least 2,000 years ahead of Destiny.

Now, that's one heck of a long project. As an Ancient, you come up with an idea, launch the "first wave" of your plan (i.e. the seed ships) then wait two thousand years for your distant, distant, distant descendants to finally get around to launching Destiny? And the ship also happens to have the same technology and architectural style? Does this seem unlikely to anyone else?

Have I found a bit of a plot hole (read: plot feature that stretches credibility just a little too much), or did I miss something?

  • I think Seed ships were sent earlier or/and are faster than Destiny (which is possible given their smaller size and larger energy storage) because of the system of plotting the FTL course. Destiny has to know the space around not to hit anything. Or at least that was implied in the show. But I can see a problem in that theory: how does a Seed ship, which doesn't have any knowledge of the space in front of it, know the course to fly while not hitting anything and at the same time maintaining '4 hours in FLT' rule? – jandurek Oct 18 '15 at 18:50
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    "Destiny has to know the space around not to hit anything. Or at least that was implied in the show." Huh? – Lightness Races with Monica Oct 18 '15 at 19:04
  • Maybe Destiny stopped or circled at the distance of dialing limit of that eras Ancients. The show never gives the exact formula but says that it takes more and more power to dial greater distances. Therefore the only way a "hard coded" 9 symbol address could work is if the distance was known ahead of time. – John LA Aug 22 at 1:48
  • Destiny addressing bothers me anyway - we already know they're not based on a fixed point in space (literal quote from the show, plus it's obvious) so we've never really had enough information about it to make deductions. That being said, the power reqs argument is pretty solid – Lightness Races with Monica Aug 22 at 11:18
  • Clearly you’ve never worked for public administration... – Jorge Córdoba Aug 23 at 12:50

13 Answers 13

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I would venture to guess that this can easily be explained by different speeds. If the Destiny left at a speed less than the seed ships, it can easily be explained that over the course of the vast amount of time the Destiny was traveling that the seed ships gained distance over it.

Another possible explanation is that although the seed ships travel "ahead" of Destiny, it is plausible to assume that they were simultaneously sent to various galaxies. If for example you were traveling to New York City but wanted to stop at every major city on the way (Destiny and the Galaxies on its path), it would take you much longer to reach than if you traveled straight there.

  • I hadn't thought of the speed thing, though I'd wonder why that were a design feature of the ship... to be slower than it can be. And it was implied that Destiny was quite literally following the path of the ships.... though now you mention it, I wonder whether there being multiple seed ships might indeed have had something to do with it. If anything, though, I'd expect that only to compensate for the fact that the seed ships would have been slowed down by having "stuff to do" that Destiny didn't (i.e. going to actual planets and dropping gates, rather than just strafing the area at FTL). – Lightness Races with Monica Jan 24 '12 at 17:30
  • @TomalakGeret'kal There were other things that slowed down the Destiny too, alien influences, and other unpredictable events are shown in the episodes that force a slow down. Further, the fact that there were multiple seed ships implies that they could be travelling faster. In any case, essentially the answer to your question is that varying speeds over large amount of time can account for the varying distance – NominSim Jan 24 '12 at 17:56
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    @TomalakGeret'kal More importantly in regards to speed - the seed ships were never meant for people, at least not for extended stay. Not as many life support systems were needed, so they could push for extra speed. At least, this is my theory. – Izkata Jan 31 '12 at 0:16
  • @Izkata: Yea, that might work – Lightness Races with Monica Jan 31 '12 at 0:53
  • Not to mention if Destiny was meant to be gated to at some point, wouldn't it need to make regular and long (compared to dropping off a gate), planned stops to wait for incoming gate activity where the seed ships wouldn't? – Erik Noren Sep 3 '13 at 21:41
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It is theorized by Dr. Rush that Destiny was designed to do more than just go out into the universe. Destiny was designed to find God or the creator or maybe even find the limits of the universe. Also for the mission planned for Destiny by the Ancients there did need to be planned out areas for replacement parts and supplies. Destiny was sent out unmanned and the plan was to jump into it when it had reached a certain point in space. So basically they sent out probes (seed ships) and the main research vessel (Destiny) is coming after to gather data and to accomplish whatever the unknown Ancients mission was in creating Destiny, but they Ascended before they actually used Destiny.

All Ancient technology seems to have the same technology and architecture. It could be they hit a peak and could not advance past it until they Ascended.

  • Your first paragraph: yes, but none of that explains the 2,000 years gap. And we saw in the very first episode that Destiny followed a single line (if not completely straight) and we know from dialogue since that it's following the path of the seed ships. That's why the seed ships existed: to go before along Destiny's route. As for your second paragraph, it's always been implied that the Ancient lifespan was similar to a human's and, if nothing else, the history of known characters like Myrrdin supports that notion. – Lightness Races with Monica Jan 25 '12 at 1:49
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    At first I was going to say that the launching points of the ships would account for the time differences, but then I realized the Destiny was traveling by FTL the whole way until it was manned and the seed ships would of had to travel slower than that so that they could find the worlds and resources the Destiny needed. So I believe you've found a large plot hole. – Kevin Howell Jan 30 '12 at 21:09
  • @KevinHowell I don't understand how this is a plot hole? There were multiple(potentially many) seed ships travelling ahead of Destiny, why is it necessary that they travel slower? – NominSim Feb 10 '12 at 17:46
  • The Destiny was launched in FTL and has been traveling a that speed ever since. The seed ships would have to travel at a lesser speed in order to scout out potential planets for stargates and resources. The would not be able to do this in FTL. The only way would be if the seed ships were launched from another ship that was traveling in FTL and still is ahead of Destiny. It would have to be launched at the furthest point it could and Destiny would have to have been launched much much further back from it for a 2000 year gap to appear. – Kevin Howell Feb 14 '12 at 14:18
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    @Izkata: I figured they found it during the periodic sun charge dropouts (and accompanying four-hour wait FTL cooldown period). – Lightness Races with Monica Jul 21 '14 at 9:14
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Given all the trouble that Rush had adjusting the countdown clock, it could be assumed that Destiny needed to drop out of FTL at certain points in space, for certain lengths of time, to observe and record the CMB data it was looking for, which would also point to Destiny dropping out of FTL at regular intervals long before the crew arrived, and that it was not one continuous FTL jump prior to boarding. The seed ships only have to remain long enough to gather resources and deliver gates, there's no reason for them to sit around and wait before the next FTL jump.

  • The countdown clock starts when Destiny jumps out of FTL and stops when it jumps back in, not the other way around. – Lightness Races with Monica Sep 2 '13 at 20:39
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Also when you're dealing with distances on the galactic scale, you have to take the Universe's rate of expansion into account. Currently, the universe is appearing to expand at a rate of about 67 km/sec every million parsecs of distance. So, if the seed ships were launched before Destiny and some bypassed others in continuous FTL, then their speed would be given that extra "push" by virtue of the compounding expansion. Destiny would of course be subject to this as well, but it didn't have the head start.

There are galaxies that are being moved away from us at faster than the speed of light because of this phenomenon. I'm not about to sit and do the math, but it would be interesting for someone to calculate.

  • That's an interesting point. I'm not sure that my intuition agrees that the seed ships have a "head start" in this context, but without doing the maths first I won't dispute it. – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 9 '17 at 16:57
  • That could really add up but is highly dependent on how much time passed between launch of seedships and Destiny as well as details of their course and speed. If average progress was the same and their launches only 2000 years apart then there shouldn't be that much difference. For instance if the seedships were allowed to reach 2B ly before destiny was launched then this would add up to less than 14% c , w/ the seedships being only 280 ly farther ahead than planned; the separation is never so big to begin with. Unless seedships were launched a million years earlier but it seems unlikely – John LA Aug 23 at 20:49
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Everyone is assuming that Seed ships were build on Earth?

It is said that Destiny was launched from Earth, but we have no way of knowing where the Seed ships were built.

From episodes of SG-1, the Ancients appear to have passed through the Asgard galaxy (Ida I think) first, then reached the Milky Way and then on to Pegasus. The stargate created by the Seed ships are the oldest generation we know of, from SG-1 when O'Neill first got the ancient database in his head, the Asgard galaxy stargates are the same type as the Milkly Way galaxy stargates.

This indicates that the stargate design used in Stargate Universe by the seed ships were created before the Ancients ever went to the Asgard's galaxy. This would mean that the Seed Ships would have likely been launched before the Ancients ever entered the Asgards galaxy or came to the Milky Way as the seed ships would probably be using the Milky Way model stargate instead.

The older stargates on Stargate Universe are limited by range, they may also not be compatible with the newer models of the Milky Way and Pegasus galaxies, meaning that the gate on Destiny was already an obsolete design and only put Destiny to work with the seed ship stargates already on planets.

Also in an episode of Atlantis (last one I think), it is stated by McKay that Pegasus stargates override Milky Way Stargates, this might also happen with Milky Way gates affecting the seed ship style stargates in some unknown way.

Destiny may have simply been built to carry on the "creation of the universe mission" automatically.

The design of the destiny may simply be a larger variation of the Seed ship, we know from Stargate Altantis that there appeared to be at least 3 variations of Aurora type warship and 2 slightly different Atlantis City Ships. The Destiny would have had to have been built with certain technologies, capabilities and design features to match the Seed Ships, remember that the Destiny was able to dock with a seed ship twice.

We also have no idea of how long the Ancients spent in the Milky Way and Pegasus galaxies. In the Milky way galaxy, the Ancients appear to use stone structures for buildings, yet the few outposts and structures we see in Pegasus appear to be made of much newer materials like steel and concrete like substances.

We also all assume that Seed Ships only had faster than light drives, it is possible that the seed ships used hyperdrives when travelling between galaxies! As there is no need to plot for gravity wells in these areas allowing for hyperdrive between galaxies, this might also explain why the smaller seed ships have massive power reserves compared to Destiny's. The Ancients would have likely had hyperdrives before all of this, however there is no real way to know, except the Ori who the Ancients broke away from had to use a supergate to get to the Milky Way indicating a massive distance between galaxies. From the SG-1 film Ark of Truth, there is a scene when the Ancients leave Celestis where an Ancient has drawn an image of a stargate in what he says is his notebook.

This could mean that the seed ships placed the first model of stargate in every galaxy between the Ancients/Ori galaxy and the Galaxy the Destiny is in. Then followed after the seed ships at a later date replacing the seed ship gates when they got to a new galaxy. We also dont know if there were other types of stargate designs between those of the Seed ships and the Milky Way models.

All these factors may allow for the massive times between the launch of the seed ships and Destiny.

  • "In the Milky way galaxy, the Ancients appear to use stone structures for buildings, yet the few outposts and structures we see in pegasus appear to be made of much newer materials like steel and concrete like substances." I doubt it's actually normal stone, and besides you're applying a bias based on Earth development. As a material, steel is no "newer" than stone. – Lightness Races with Monica Jul 20 '14 at 14:09
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In the show they mention Destiny is slowly but surely breaking down and that the last couple of galaxies, it just barely made the entire intergalactic trip in FTL. They may have been loose with their notion of barely completing the voyage - i.e. It may have dropped into sublight a few hundred years coasting distance until recharge here and there already.

Also, if there are multiple seed ships, the lead ships could have been programmed to bypass many whole galaxies ahead i.e. First ship doing a nonstop FTL trip a dozen or more galaxies ahead (back when the seed ship was factory new and had full power storage capabilities). I think this is plausible considering how low Destiny's power storage was versus the seed ship it ran into. Assuming equal rate of deterioration in systems, it seems seed ships have much longer legs than Destiny. (Afterall - without the seed ship, Destiny couldn't dial Earth but with the seed ship suddenly something even Atlantis couldn't do with 3 ZPMs, thus necessitating a power planet to power the dial in, became possible).

Seems like the seed ships may have had more robust storage, lower depletion rate since they're lower mass/size, more overall capacity or ship space devoted to energy storage or some combination of all of those factors. Pumping up the seed ship's design for increased endurance would be consistent with a mission criterion that the seed ships plow far ahead of Destiny and stay ahead by staying at FTL for far longer periods, plopping gates here and there.

  • I thought the seed ship power idea worked because it was two ships working on the problem, rather than just one. So it wasn't necessarily just the seed ship itself being powerful enough. Otherwise this is fairly good reasoning though. – Lightness Races with Monica Aug 23 '15 at 10:22
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Why would it be assumed that Destiny has traveled in FTL constantly until boarded? From the battle damage it had since it was discovered, would seem to indicate that it dropped out of FTL from time to time, as well as the need for it to drop out to recharge... I believe they simply sent out the seed ships so far in advance because the seed ships were exploring the unknown, and they didn't want Destiny to pass them up...

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    If Destiny was about to overtake the seed ships, certainly there'd be some logic in the computers for it to slow down and not pass them up. The Stargates that the seed ships were placing were an absolute necessity for a crew to get supplies (the shuttles being rather small for lots of cargo). – Izkata Mar 20 '13 at 22:44
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Maybe Destiny stopped at a preset distance long ago and has only circled awaiting it's research crew until the personal of Icarus Base gated in.

As we know a 9 symbol address is like a MAC address independent of physical location unlike 7 and 8 symbol addresses. We're also told that power required rises "sharply" (otherwise unspecified) with dialing distance. Therefore the only way to successfully connect to a distant 9 symbol destination is to have infinite reserves or to know exactly what you need. Apparently some canon/near canon sources explain how the SGC found out the power required but as Destiny's crew is long overdue the only way that information could be current is that Destiny must've held at that distance.

The fact that the Alternative Destiny crew emerged from the Novus gate 2,000 years ago doesn't mean it wasn't already there another 100,000. We can only reason the gate must have been there by 2000 years ago as they obviously exited it, the events of the SG1 episode "1969" not withstanding (though that ep still gives me horrible headaches from that logical inconsistency of exiting a gate where it had never yet been as opposed to where it actually was in 1969...)

Since the "Back to Destiny" comic is canon (but inconsistent about the era Atlantis was launched) we can assume all the seedships were sent out by 1,000,000 years ago at the latest. But they could've been launched over the course of the previous million just as easily. If so the seedships may have laid another two billion light years of gates past Destiny's current position. Of course there's also no reason other than the massive industrial cost to think that all the ships weren't launched together or at least over less than 2000 years.

The distance between Destiny and the seedship wave could simply be the result of Destiny pausing where it's crew was supposed to gate in. Be that a slow drift, circles or whatever. This would be the last few seconds or less of the video showing Destiny's progress. Blink and you miss it even if bare survival isn't the top twenty things on your ten item list.

We can further surmise that seedships are supposed to periodically meet up with Destiny for resupply and huge data dumps, as seen in SGU. Since, for whatever reason, Destiny lags far behind the vanguard any seedship would have to come back and meet it halfway. This likely made the one we saw vulnerable to Berserker Drones that find it shortly after the Urcini, perhaps because they were persueing it.

If Destiny entered a holding pattern it might explain other things.

If it's been circling a galaxy or cluster (for instance) like our own Local Group for the past hundred thousand years it would explain all the interest it's gained from the Nakai. The gate trail across their territory might be older than their species. The Destiny could've been doing laps for thousands of years before they had fire and it's continued it as they developed space ships and intergalactic hyperdrives (or if it only showed up after they had these things.) Even after getting aboard it didn't get them any closer to knowing why it was built or what it's doing. No wonder they took such interest once Icarus gated in.

And there's still those Berserker Drones. We can't know exactly how long ago they encountered the wave of seedships but if the Drones are native to the Novus colony's galaxy it was at least 2000 years ago. Most likely they do not originate within that galaxy given how quickly they spread to cover every system. Considering the extent of their focus on the gates and on stars that Destiny can refuel from, the seedships are likely their primary target and possibly the reason they were created in the first place.

  • It's a decent idea. The biggest problem with it, and a pointer to the hole mentioned in the question is the seedship the crew run into in the middle of the second season. Is there any indication that this seedship was hijacked millennia ago? – Jontia Aug 22 at 8:17
  • I quite like the theory but it seems to be contradicted by the map shown in the first episode, as well as (from memory) others we see snippets of later on. – Lightness Races with Monica Aug 22 at 11:08
  • @ Lightness Races in Orbit That may be but as I recall the map showing the ship's course showed galaxies not much bigger than pin pricks, so would it have shown a loop (or a few thousand) taken around a single galaxy? Maybe not at the scale of time and distance they were viewing it on. As retcons go it's smaller than changing Atlantis' launch from 30M years ago to less than 1M. Or than deciding Destiny had a few Ancients in an unseen stasis bay who'd make the ship fit enough to shrug off Drones with ease... But thats all cannon now apparently. – John LA Aug 22 at 12:09
  • @ Jontia, it's not necessarily going to tie up all the threads but might. The Urcini had gone aboard that seedship to investigate it only to get stranded when Drones destroyed their mothership. Maybe something caused it to lock up a thousand years ago and the Urcini just had to reboot it but it seems a bit coincidental that Destiny gets a crew, the Berserkers show up Destroying the colonies of their descendants and they run into a seedship. Like it was on it's way to meet up with Destiny (triggered by the dial in?) but took damage leaving it as the Urcini found it with drones following... – John LA Aug 22 at 12:18
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This is how the seed ships stayed in front all this time. It's about math... say they are in FTL and there are 3 seed ships on one set course, all of them move at 999,999 mph. Destiny goes 10-20 years afterwards but its speed is 999,900 mph so over time, lets say 1 million + years .. the seed ships could be well over 2000 years ahead by now...

  • Further there go, further apart there will be – user31396 Aug 7 '14 at 20:52
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    Do you have anything to back up the hypothesis that Destiny was travelling at a lower speed? – Sindi Aug 7 '14 at 21:16
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It is said in the second season that Destiny was planned to be somewhat like a cruise ship, stopping at gates along the way to allow the people on board to get out and stretch their legs. The seed ships were designed solely to seed the route that destiny took, and there were many. So they did not need to stop as often, or as long as the seed ships.

While the FTL drive didn't have to shut down as often as say a wraith hyperdrive would, it would still have to stop at points at the very least to recharge it's power supply. The ship was sent as the main research vessel and the seed ships were only to support that research, so it makes sense that the ancients would program it to stop regularly and check out those areas that the seed ship placed stargates, at the very least when a stargate on a certain planet sent data that Destiny might have found interesting.

Regarding the countdown clock, it is correct that it started when the ship dropped out, not the other way around, but that person still made a valid point. If the ship hadn't been dropping out of FTL during its journey why would the countdown clock have existed?

And the fact that there were several, if not many seed ships does imply that they were sent to different areas of space. The straight line that was mentioned beforehand was a misguided point. As you watch the ship's journey you see it leave the solar system, then through several stops on its way out of the galaxy, then all you see of the other galaxies it traveled to is one dot representing the entire galaxy.

Galaxies are very large, and Destiny stops several times throughout a galaxy to see what is there. If different seed ships were sent to different galaxies and then skipped ones with another seed ship along its path than it is very plausible that it took Destiny several thousands of years to reach a galaxy that may have already been seeded.

  • Stargates do not send data about planets, and Destiny does not drop out when nobody is on board other than to recharge. "If the ship hadn't been dropping out of FTL during its journey why would the countdown clock have existed?" I don't follow you here: it exists for when there are people on board. – Lightness Races with Monica Jul 21 '14 at 9:11
  • The stargates do send data about the planet, that is how destiny chooses which planets to lock out or not. Or how destiny knew that a planet has a material that the crew needs, such as in "Air" when it chooses one planet after Rush inputs into a Destiny's computer that they need Lyme. And as for destiny not dropping out of FTL prior to anyone being on board you are making a completely us referenced claim, there is no way that you could know that it didn't. They never reference that on the show, so it could have not been dropping out, or it could have been. You can't say for sure either way. – Helios Jul 22 '14 at 15:27
  • True.​​​​​​​​​​ – Lightness Races with Monica Jul 22 '14 at 15:36
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Wraith technology is based on Ancient technology, and very well could have been based on the "original FTL" i.e., Destiny. I tend to believe that with the sensor tech available to the ancients (they did detect the background signal btw), if they could have used hyperdrive, they would have. I believe that Desitny's FTL was simply used because it was built long before the current star drive or hyper drive was developed. It could very well be that destiny is simply a failed experiment, or even a "mapping" device. No one knows for sure, just that it's pointed toward some signal.

As far as the seed ship speed and the 2000 year thing: well, simply put, they would have built many many seed ships. Maybe they built themselves after they found enough resources? (early Replicator tech maybe?) The simple fact of the matter is that the seed ships would have harvested materials, and dropped gates, and other seed ships would have bypassed this on to the next galaxy. So maybe two or three seed ships is all you would really need to "stay ahead" of Destiny.

By the way... on the topic of speed... remember the SG-1 episode where the Replicators took over the Goa'uld ship and increased its speed to 800% of normal? I don't know how fast that is, but I would be willing to bet it's faster than the Asgard ships. And since the Replicator tech is based on Ancient tech... It would be safe to assume that the Ancients were capable of traveling far faster than Destiny (towards the end of their existence that is)...

Could it simply be that they just used a faster ship and completely the mission long before destiny ever could have? They had star drive, why not just map the Destiny coordinates, then jump there. Then jump further, and further... etc... mission completed. What's the point in Destiny then? SGU ended partially because there is no good, semi-plausible story line. Any "mission" would have been completed and logged in the database. (unless it was super duper secret and dangerous like the weapon Rodney used to destroy that solar system.)

  • There's nothing to suggest the Wraith encountered any Ancient tech other than the Lantean variety despite the fact Destiny's record shows it passed through Pegasus long before. However far ahead the seedships are it seems at least some would come back to and link up with Destiny at times. We know this since they caught up with the one which then did. I don't think it was floating there thousands of years. Probably just over matched by Berserkers on it's own where the swarm of seedships would crush any number of drones. Probably why they drones target gates and stars the ships need.. – John LA Aug 22 at 5:32
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Destiny was sent out to follow the seed ships which don't need to stop until it detects a planet capable of supporting life in which it seeds the planet with a gate that has already been built on board by the ship which the gate then transmits information regarding the planet to Destiny. As seen in one of the episodes when Destiny caught up to a seed ship the gates are manufactured on board and stock piled when a gate is seeded a new one is built to take its place.

And as for the question of the gap between when the seed ships were launched and Destiny, it's all about the speed of the ships. The seed ships could have been built with faster engines than Destiny and could have been traveling at faster than Destiny could so as to remain ahead of Destiny. And to keep any one from asking about the seed ship Destiny caught up to, that only happened because the ship had been invaded by aliens and its E systems were shut down. And people please keep in mind that Destiny doesn't always stay in FTL it has to drop out every few hours to allow the engines to cool down and it has to stop to recharge its power cells by flying through stars.

  • it has to drop out every few hours to allow the engins to cool down That's not true; currently it is on an extended FTL voyage between galaxies, very deliberately not stopping even once. You're probably thinking of the rule that says the engines must cool down after exiting FTL, for a minimum of four hours, before the ship may safely jump away again. Did you actually pay attention to the show? – Lightness Races with Monica Jan 27 '14 at 12:10
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    It's Wraith ships that need periodic hyperspace drop-outs. No other hyperdrive technologies have been suggested to operate this way. – DeadMG Jan 27 '14 at 12:12
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Yet everyone of you people skipped one of the most important thing is SGU "Time Travel". What if Ancients made the "seed ships" then used solar flare and stargate combination to send seed ships into the past, then they would start seeding the galaxies way faster than doing so in linear time. So they basically sent seed ships million years in the past, they seed a lot of galaxies and then they launch destiny? Sounds plausible to me.

  • There is literally zero indication whatsoever that the Ancients had ever tried using solar flares to invoke time travel at the point that they were launching the seed ships, nor any evidence whatsoever that anyone has managed to successfully control that random, unexpected and unpredictable occurrence of an entire ship being chucked back in time when an on-board Stargate was subject to a wormhole transiting through a star. This may be plausible at a real, real, real reach... there's certainly no evidence for it. – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 22 '14 at 0:55

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