Though there are 387 Stages to a TARDIS Vortex Flight, almost all of these are automatically handled by the infrastructure sub-systems. There are only 5 steps an operator must undertake to dematerialize a TARDIS from N-Space and initiate Vortex travel. Each of these steps has a progress light which illuminates when that step is completed. The process should not be taken lightly however because, if a dematerialization is performed improperly, there's a possibility of lesser species inside the Control Room being rendered unconscious. A warning lamp and buzzer will signal if one the demat-stages hasn't been completed correctly. Despite this, security procedures require that a TARDIS Information System does not contain any flight instructions.
1. Programming of the Navigational Instruments
The current spatial coordinates (relative to Gallifrey's Eye of Harmony, at the centre of Mutter's Stellian Spiral) and the current temporal location (relative to Gallifrey's Present) are programmed into a TARDIS's Directional Unit/unoff] using the Navigational Slide Controls. These are usually the last set of coordinates used. If the Space-Time Coordinates of the current location have changed since the last materialization, then the new coordinates will have to be input. If the current coordinates are not precisely known, then an accurate course is impossible to plot. Once this is completed the Space-Time Coordinates of the desired destination (again relative to Gallifrey's Eye of Harmony and Gallifrey's present) are also programmed in (for more information see Navigation Slide Controls). If the operator desires, he can file a Forward Reference instead of setting the coordinates. This allows a TARDIS to dematerialize without setting any coordinates. In this case a TARDIS will remain in Limbo after dematerialization until coordinates are patched in.
2. Computer Acceptance
The Directional Unit then uses the Space-Time Coordinates to calculate the Epsilon Coordinates, which serve as a path or a "road map" through the Space-Time Vortex. A TARDIS's computer usually does these calculations, but some Time Lords can compute Epsilon Coordinates in their heads. Calculating the Epsilon Coordinates is very complicated and requires good maths skills. The Input Bar is then depressed to feed the coordinates into the Course Acceptance Unit.
If the Input Bar is omitted, then a TARDIS will assume a Forward Reference has been filed. The vessel will dematerialize and remain in Limbo awaiting Epsilon Coordinates and other Flight Data. While multiple sets of coordinates can be input into the Directional Unit, any previous coordinates must be cancelled or the Unit will ignore the newly input coordinate program until it has completed the previous programmed flight. To ensure the coordinates aren't accidentally altered after being set, one of the twin navigational locks can be enabled. One locks manually input coordinates and the other is responsible for the Fast Return Switch.
Once the Epsilon Coordinates have been input, the course can be checked with the Destination Monitor. The full destination display uses the format shown below:
Flight Data. Programmed Journey
Departure: <planet name> <location on planet>
Local Dateline: <local date> <the era in Gallifreyan dating>
Destination: <planet name> <location on planet>
Local Dateline: <local date> <the era in Gallifreyan dating>
3. Power Build-up to required Levels
The Transit Switch needs to be toggled to activate the Vortex Primer, which provides the power boost for travel. It takes a TARDIS 12 minutes to build up enough power in the Time Rotor's Energy Storage Unit to dematerialize after materializing. The TARDIS drive systems can be tested to ensure the energy storage unit has enough power for successful dematerialization. The Booster Switches can be used to alter the default power levels. When the total power is reduced a TARDIS's trips through the Vortex take longer. Care must be taken (especially with older capsules) not to "over rev" in the third phase.
If the Transit Switch is not toggled a TARDIS will have insufficient power to travel more than a few hundred meters or seconds. If departing the planet the TARDIS would rematerialize a few seconds after it left. If departing a moving vehicle (such as a space craft) the TARDIS would materialize a few seconds later at its original spatial coordinates - likely being left behind by the vehicle.
The Master Dematerialization Switch can now be activated. This will engage the laser trigger of the Dematerialization Circuit and dematerialize a TARDIS. The Dematerialization Switch can be set on a time delay or remotely activated by a pre-determined signal from a portable device that is plugged in to the console when not in use. Some operators build this device into their sonic screwdrivers. If using a sonic screwdriver the operator must be careful lest he fuse coordinates in the Directional Unit.
The Molecular Dematerialization Codes are necessary to properly trigger the Dematerialization Circuit. They are essential to initiate successful travel in the Vortex. This is usually done automatically by the Symbiotic Relationship Circuit's Briode-Nebuliser, which pulls the codes from the operator's Rassilon Imprimature in the form of a Symbiotic Print.
If the sound of the dimensional stabilizers will be heard inside the TARDIS (as opposed to only outside). Dematerialization (a process that usually takes 3 seconds) can be aborted if the switch is reversed before the TARDIS has completely disappeared. However, care should be taken. Reversing the switch in the 3 seconds after dematerialization has been completed causes a Vortex Crisis (also see Time Ram). Creation of a Vortex Crisis is expressly forbidden by the Second Law of Time. The TARDIS will start to shake itself to pieces due to the massive forces forcing the capsule from one loop of the time spiral to the next. The re-materialization command must be cancelled to save the capsule. Once cancelled the TARDIS will initiate an Automatic Landing as soon as it is safe, materializing relatively near the dematerialization point.
For more information about see the Dematerialization entry in Navigation Systems.
5. Vortex travel
While within the Vortex the TARDIS operates in Walrus Mode. The Spatial Drive will activate automatically when a TARDIS has entered the Space-Time Vortex. It is impossible (save using the Emergency Unit) to alter the coordinates once the ship has activated the Spatial Drive. The Brake can be used to temporarily deviate to an time zone. But the original course will have to be completed eventually. In theory, once the coordinates and course are programmed in, a TARDIS will travel to its destination and materialize automatically. In practice, Time Lord supervision is sometimes necessary to avoid dangers in the Space-Time Vortex. For example, collision with other objects in the Vortex is prevented using the Anti-Collision Control. An operator can monitor the consumption of this energy via the Neutronium Counter, which displays the power in
omegas. Once in the Vortex, a TARDIS requires a minimum of one quarter of full power (1000 omegas) to travel. The Velocity Override regulates the velocity when travelling through a wormhole. Travelling at minimum power greatly increases the ETA.
Travel through a Vortex wormhole can be displayed on the Scanner. A red tinted tunnel is displayed for travelling forwards in time and a blue tint indicates travel into the relative past. There are also two blue lights on the console that indicate forward or backwards time travel. These lights will register even if the TARDIS isn't responsible for the temporal shift.
For more information on this stage see the Space Time Vortex entry.
The following color code is used:
- Black: For information from the TV Series, including Dimensions in Time, and 1996 TV Movie.
- Blue: For information from the Novels and Audios including Target, Virgin, BCC, and Big Finish.
- Green: For information from 'licensed' reference sources such as the Technical Manual, Doctor Who Magazine, and the Role Playing Games.
- Red: For information from unofficial sources -The Faction Paradox series, behind the scenes interviews, author's speculation, and popular fan belief.
The TARDIS Technical Index is copyright Will B Swift.