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Fleets leave orbit and begin moving at the very end of the watch in which they are given a movement order. Fleets can only move between planets.
Starship and ramjet fleets take one or two additional watches after being ordered off a planet to leave orbit, and have to spend one watch in orbit after arrival before they will accept attack orders.
You can issue new destination orders to moving fleets at any time.
Jumpbeacons exist on the imperial capital, jumpship yards, and on sector capitals under the F&M doctrine; they are a property of these designations and can only be removed by redesignation. Non-explorer jumpships can't travel to planets outside the 250LY radius of the player's jumpbeacons on their own. If a jumpship fleet ends up outside beacon range (e.g, if a nearby beacon is captured,) it can still jump back into the range of any friendly beacon. Jumpfleets can cross space outside of a beacon range as long as their movement ends inside a beacon's range. If you put jumpships in a fleet with starships or ramjets (producing a “mixed fleet”), the fleet will move at the speed of the slowest ship in the fleet and does not require a beacon. If a mixed fleet containing both jumpships and other ships turns into a jumpfleet while moving (e.g., if it gets hit by jumpmissiles and all escorts are destroyed), it stops moving and you must issue it a new movement order. This is the only way that a fleet can stop moving in open space.
Fleets will not always use the best route to get to a destination if there are obstacles (e.g. nebulas or rift zones) in the way. You may need to manually order fleets to travel a planet that is on the way to the destination, then give them a new movement order once they arrive. Fleets often have trouble finding paths through rift zone regions, but it is possible for ships to cross rift zones with some diligent searching.
Fleets can move outside the boundaries of the map. Nebulas are not absolute impediments to starship movement if the starships are able to go around them. Some nebulas extend beyond the boundaries of the map but fleets can still pathfind around the invisible parts of the nebulas.