In real life, interstellar flight is a complicated mix of theory and really big math. Thank goodness for the virtual world because here, it is whatever Cryptic decides it is! In the most recent "Ask Cryptic" volume fans asked about Star Trek Online's interstellar travel and how it will work in STO and Cryptic responded!
Yes, in some ways it will be similar. We actually have three levels of maps. ThereÂs the sector space map, which youÂll be in when youÂre going across the galaxy and traveling from one system to another. ItÂs not entirely flat, but also not completely 3D. There are dimensions to it. YouÂll see sector grids, planets, solar systems, space stations, nebulas, anomalies and all sorts of different points of interest. YouÂll see and interact with other players in sector space. YouÂll also be doing a lot of your exploration in sector space. For example, you may be traveling across the galaxy when your com officer suddenly says, ÂCaptain, thereÂs a distress call!Â At that point, you get to follow up on that distress call, enter that system and engage in that mission.
ThatÂs the second level of map. When you go into points of interest the game opens up a 3D space map (or system map) where you can engage in combat. Many of these will be instanced just for you. Some of them will be persistent so that you can go in and other people can join you. For example, there will be a persistent Klingon battlefront where the Klingons are fighting the Romulans. Something will always be going on there and anyone can join in. In instances you can go in alone or your team members can join you.
From system space (either persistent or instanced) you can transport to a ground map, like the surface of a planet or the inside of a space station.
There are a few other wonderful STO questions posed to the team that they were kind enough to answer so please head on over to Star Trek Online and read the rest of this informative Q&A!