- Pony Express redirects here.
The more common term "Command Circuit" refers to a pre-arranged chain of JumpShips working together as a Pony Express, i.e. the application of the Pony Express method. However, the two expressions are often used synonymously.
A regular JumpShip has to recharge its K-F Drive for roughly a week after each jump, and can jump no more than around 30 lightyears at a time. It is therefore not uncommon for JumpShips to hand the DropShips they carried off to another JumpShip that is ready to continue the jump out immediately (or otherwise transfer cargo, passengers or messages).
In this fashion, travel times can be cut down from around a week per jump to a few hours (plus system transit). However, the general scarcity of JumpShips means a Pony Express has to be planned or set up long in advance, and is likely to be very expensive. Independent free trader JumpShips do exist and are sometimes available for pony express travels, but typically charge steep prices.
Pony Express-style couriers were used by the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth in the later stages of the Fourth Succession War following ComStar's interdiction, and even prior to the war courier vessels had been used to distribute sealed orders because ComStar was not entirely trusted.
Following the effective breakdown of HPG communications after the 3132 "Gray Monday" Blackout, Pony Express-style message delivery became the predominant form of interstellar communication. By early 3134, Paladin Kelson Sorenson and a select group of Republic of the Sphere knights and diplomats had united a disparate collection of cargo lines, free traders and repurposed military vessels into a relay network dubbed "Solar Express".
A Command Circuit is a pre-arranged Pony Express-style chain of JumpShips over (typically) long distances that is held in place for some time (whereas most Pony Express handoffs are one-off affairs). Command Circuits are expensive to set up because of the number of valuable JumpShips they tie up for mostly idle stand-by, and are thus generally only used by state leaders or militaries.