The driving force behind the initial colonization of the Inner Sphere, the Kearny-Fuchida Drive (also known as K-F Drive) was named after the two professors, Thomas Kearny and Takayoshi Fuchida who theorized of the ability to warp space to allow for quick travel over more than two dozen light years. Although the two scientists put forward their theories beginning in 2018, their theories were ridiculed for decades. It was only after their deaths that they were vindicated when the Deimos Project "jumped" the first JumpShip from Sol's zenith jump point to its nadir jump point in 2107. A year later, the TAS Pathfinder made the first manned, interstellar "jump" to Tau Ceti, where they confirmed the findings of the slower-than-light Magellan probes: Tau Ceti had a habitable planet, later named New Earth.
The creation of the Kearny-Fuchida Drive was the only reason that extensive colonization of the Inner Sphere took place.
A K-F drive is comprised of a meters-thick core made of a titanium-germanium alloy (wrapped in a liquid helium jacket), controller, initiator, tankage and other associated equipment. The core acts as a capacitor to store the energy needed to burst through space.
Replacement cores cannot be transported as typical cargo transiting through hyperspace. There are two ways to deliver a core to a different star system. The first is the more common, when the appropriate transport assets are available: once constructed or removed from the previous hull, the core is attached to a complete drive and installed within a lightweight transport shell. Another JumpShip would then temporarily attach itself in order to provide the necessary charge and to program the jump through hyperspace. After the charging 'Ship has removed itself to a safe distance, the shell would jump to the target location. The second method would have the titanium-germanium core ground into gravel-sized particles and (usually) chemically treated to reduce the interference with a functional K-F drive. It would then be reprocessed in a zero-gravity facility and recast into a new core, a process requiring many months.
The science behind the KF drive was lost in the course of the Succession Wars (except by ComStar, who concealed their continued knowledge). While new drives can still be made, this is done by simply repeating the known design, without variation. This also means that new jumpship designs cannot be created except by trial and error, a process that would be so ludicrously expensive in the case of even one failure that the closest anyone has come is making modest changes to non-jump-related systems, such as changing armament and external accoutrements. ComStar had secretly produced a few new designs, most notably the Magellan-class explorer, equipped with a hyperpulse generator for use in scouting new systems and searching for Aleksandr Kerensky's fleet. Following the discovery of the Helm Memory Core, this science has begun to recover, and new designs have begun to be produced. The Clans retained more of this information, fielding several unique designs and even maintaining a WarShip fleet, though how much they know is a closely guarded secret.
The Kearny-Fuchida Drive is manufactured on the following planets:
- The Star League, pp. 7-8, "History - Roots"
- Strategic Operations, p. 122, "JumpShips"
- Strategic Operations, p. 123, "Engineering Systems"
- Strategic Operations, p. 130, "Repairing Stranded JumpShips"