If there was one thing Star Wars: The Last Jedi did, it created a divide amongst the fans. Star Wars fans have historically volleyed back and forth regarding theories of potential fates for iconic characters - but this was different. People acted almost as if Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi’s director) was mistreating puppies or something. Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) fled her social media accounts after relentless groups of disgruntled fans ridiculed her and her performance as a technician for the Resistance.
I work as a manager at something I’m going to call a “nerd store” and I’m constantly surprised by the reasons people share for their The Last Jedi hate. One of these reasons was the whole “Admiral Holdo going through hyperspace” scene. In a desperate attempt to save the Resistance, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo pilots the Raddus away from the Resistance transports and directly into pursuing First Order ships. Many people seem to ask:
“How could Holdo make the jump to hyperspace and also crash into the pursuing First Order ships?”
It is a common misconception among fans that traveling through hyperspace is essentially like a wormhole.
Traveling through hyperspace is NOT a wormhole - in one end and out the other with nothing in-between. Hyperspace is not an empty space. Ships equipped with a hyperdrive can make the jump to lightspeed which allows them to travel through the galaxy to get to the desired destination faster. The dangers of hyperspace travel date back to the original Star Wars film from 1977.
“Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dustin’ crops, boy. Without precise calculation we’d fly right through a star or bounce too close to a super nova and that would end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?” — Han Solo to Luke Skywalker ( A New Hope, 1977)
The Navigation Computer or “navicomputer” is one of the most important components to a successful hyperspace jump. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like a GPS in our world. The GPS detects your location and you tell it where you want to go. Technology will do its thing and after only a few seconds a full route is created for a successful journey. It’s a very similar concept in Star Wars. Coordinates for the destination are entered into a navicomputer and when a coordinates are set, the ship can make the jump to lightspeed. If you’ve seen Solo: A Star Wars Story, you may recall that the droid, L3-37, has the ability to directly interface with the Millennium Falcon’s navicomputer. The spice planet, Kessel, is unreachable with one jump to hyperspace due to the Akkadese Maelstrom. Hence, the Kessel Run is traditionally composed of a series of hyperspace jumps in order to avoid contact with the maelstrom.
“The local Si’Klaata Cluster and the Akkadese Maelstrom are shifting systems of interstellar gas, carbonbergs, ice chunks, and other debris that make hyperspace travel treacherous”.
-Pablo Hidalgo (Author of Solo: A Star Wars Story - The Official Guide)
L3’s incredible ability to interface with the Falcon’s navicomputer and her ability to calculate complex hyperspace routes allowed our heroes to navigate through the maelstrom and the maw - a route which slower ships would not have been able to survive.
When jumping through hyperspace, a ship travels though charted hyperspace lanes. These hyperspace lanes are similar to the highways or turnpikes in our world. If you’re traveling a great distance, your GPS will most likely produce a route in which you are directed to enter a highway. On these highways, you travel faster, you’re traveling on a designated road, and it’s the most efficient way to get from A to B. The route may not be the most direct, but if you don’t follow the roads you may hit trees, buildings, end up in a ditch, or worse. Hyperspace lanes work the same way. Coordinates are added to the navicomputer, a route is produced, and when the jump is made, a ship will travel on designated hyperspace lanes to get to the destination. Vehicles in Star Wars don’t always travel on these hyperspace lanes, which is why they need to be careful traveling through hyperspace. You never know what lies in uncharted space.
Issues with hyperspace travel is shown in Star Wars canon multiple times. In “Jedi Crash” (Episode 13 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars) , Jedi Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Aayla Secura and their crew make a jump to hyperspace in a Republic cruiser only to find out that they are headed right for a star. Aayla Secura orders the navicomputer to be reset which brings them out of hyperspace. Even while traveling through lightspeed, they would have hit the star and killed themselves.
Many similar instances have occurred throughout Star Wars. Whether you had an issue with Holdo’s hyperspace scene or not, hyperspace travel has been consistent in Star Wars from the beginning. Hyperspace does not act as a wormhole, but as a highway!