Warp Drive

Warp Drive is the most common form of faster than light travel employed by the powers of the galaxy.

Federation Warp Propulsion

The development of faster than light propulsion is considered a monumental step in the evolution of a species as it takes its place as an interstellar civilization. Each race has developed this technology at their own pace. Some species, such as the Vulcans, have been part of the interstellar community for over a millennia; others have become more recent partners in the galactic community. For Earth the development of Warp Propulsion was achieved by scientist Zefram Cochrane in the year 2063. Using his prototype vessel named the Phoenix (a repurposed Titan missile), Cochrane was able to penetrate the warp barrier and attract the attention of a nearby Vulcan starship. This is considered to be a moment in history that defined an entire generation and, potentially, led directly to the formation of the United Federation of Planets itself.

When the Federation was founded Warp Propulsion throughout the newborn Starfleet was gradually refitted to provide vessels the opportunity to reach Warp Factor 7. Within the next century the technology had been further refined to allow a cruising speed of Warp 6 and a maximum in excess of Warp 8, but faster speeds had been accomplished through outside intervention. Starfleet would begin testing new Warp Drive units in the mid 23rd Century intended to allow a standard cruise of Warp 8, with experimentation into transwarp beginning in the later years of the century. While transwarp was not accomplished, Starfleet did use the data to revise the Warp Scale utilized by the Federation. By the 2360s travel in excess of Warp 9 had become commonplace.

While an essential component of a Starship's power generation and propulsion systems, the Warp Drive itself came under intensified scrutiny in the year 2370. Doctor Serova, a Hekaran Warp Field Theorist, discovered that the continued usage of Warp Drive was damaging subspace. The Federation Science Council determined that Serova's theories were in error; however, she decided to conduct a practical test. Overloading her Warp Core inside the Hekaras Corridor, the resultant Core Breach resulted in the formation of a Subspace Rift. It was decided by the Federation Council to limit all Federation vessels to Warp 5 except for in periods of emergency. The Theoretical Propulsion Group was immediately tasked with correction of this issue and developed the Variable Geometry Warp Nacelle shortly afterward that negated the damage to subspace.

Warp Drive Overview


Also known as a gravimetric field displacement manifold, Warp Drive operates by generating a warp fields that surrounds a vessel to create a subspace bubble. This bubble distorts space time by pushing a vessel into subspace itself, thus lowering its mass, and then propels the vessel forward at incredible speeds thereby having overcome the Laws of Relativity. This process itself originates in a vessel's Warp Core. The Warp Core is a Matter/Antimatter regulator and is, in many ways, the very heart of a Starship. Inside the Warp Core matter and antimatter are combined to generate a reaction mediated by a Dilithium Crystal assembly. This process creates a high energy plasma that is transmitted through the electroplasma system of a vessel to generate power for the craft. For propulsion needs this energy is further regulated through the plasma injector assembly into the Warp Field Coils in the nacelles. This process in turn allows for the Warp Field Coils to generate a Warp Field to propel the ship at speeds faster than light. This process also allows a Warp Core to be a vessel's main power generator, supplying energy to all the ship's systems.

Warp Drive Components

Matter / Antimatter Pods


The Matter / Antimatter Pods are a collection of storage devices located aboard a Starship that are used for fuel storage. The primary matter storage is typically handled by a large fuel tank containing a supply of Deuterium - an isotope of Hydrogen that is used as in the reaction. Antimatter, in this case anti-deuterium, is stored in a collection of antimatter storage pods typically held on the lower levels of the engineering section. These pods have multiple redundant fail safes - such as a magnetized containment field - that prevent the antimatter from reacting with the rest of the ship. In the event of an emergency either of these systems can be ejected to protect the crew of a vessel.



A Warp Nacelle nacelle is a large, outbound structure attached built into the hull of a Starship and are constructed from tritanium, duranium, cobalt cortenide, verterium cortenide, and tungsten-cobalt-magnesium - and assembled with gamma-welding manufacturing techniques. Each nacelle was constructed with a series of Warp Coils that were fed by plasma conduits from the Warp Core which, in turn, are used to generate the Warp Field that allows a vessel to travel faster than light. Due to safety needs each Nacelle is isolated from the rest of the ship by large pylon structures; however, advancements in safety technology, have allowed for the development of integrated nacelles. Additionally, Starfleet has introduced the Variable Geometry Warp Nacelle which streamlines engine efficiency and is specially modified to prevent damage to subspace.

Initially a starship was required to have their nacelles paired in order to produce the most effective warp field possible; however, recent developments in technology have negated this requirement and have allowed for vessels to be produced with an odd number of nacelles. In the event of an emergency a vessel could expel warp plasma from the nacelles in an emergency venting process. In the event that a nacelle took damage it could be ejected from the rest of the ship as even minor damage to a fully charged nacelle could be a disaster.

Bussard Collectors

The Bussard Collector is a component part of a Starship's Warp Nacelle that has been designed to collect interstellar hydrogen atoms for fuel replenishment. These devices consist of a series of coils designed to emanate a magnetic field that collects these particles and then compresses the material for storage in a holding tank. While commonly designed to collect Deuterium, the units can be configured to collect any gas or plasma encountered. If needed a Bussard Collector can be employed to expel collected material as well.

Plasma Injector

The Plasma Injector is the entry point for the energy generated by the Matter/Antimatter reaction in the Warp Core into the Nacelle. The Plasma Injector functions to send precisely modulated Drive Plasma into the Warp Coils to generate the Warp Field reaction. Built in throttles closely regulate this process, maintaining a strict safety factor. The warp field coils are energized in sequential order by the Plasma Injectors, moving from the front to the back, to control the field and thus the warp factor.

Warp Coil

The Warp Coil is perhaps the most important component part of a Warp Nacelle. These units use the energy generated by the Warp Core to create the Warp Field, a powerful subspace bubble that minimized the mass of the ship and allows for faster than light propulsion. Placed in rows it is through manipulation of the Warp Coils that the subspace field can be control, thus allowing a vessel to be able to increase its speed, orientation, or acceleration. Warp fields are measured according to the amount of subspace stress they generate and it takes more energy to start the initial reaction than to increase it. Due to their complex chemical composition - a high capacity alloy of verterium cortenide surrounding a core of densified tungsten-cobalt-magnesium - this material cannot be successfully replicated.

Warp Core


The Warp Core is the primary energy reactor that provides power for the Warp Propulsion System and a vessel itself. Each Core consists of a matter/antimatter reaction assembly that uses matter and antimatter, reacting in a dilithium crystal matrix, to produce energy. Most Starfleet Warp Cores are cylindrical structures with matter and antimatter channeling into the core through vertical conduits, with the resulting energy directed to the nacelles through horizontal power transfer conduits or to the Electroplasma System through magnetic plasma conduits. Onboard Klingon Empire vessels Tritium is used in their twin warp core structure, while the Romulan Star Empire employs an artificial quantum singularity in their reaction assembly. In the event of an emergency a Warp Core can be ejected from a vessel to ensure the safety of a Starship's crew.

Intermix chamber

The primary responsibility of the Intermix Chamber regulate the integration of the Deuterium and Anti-Deuterium and then direct the resultant energy to the power transfer conduits. This process is made possible through the usage of Dilithium to control the reaction. The Dilithium Articulation Frame uses enhanced sensors and control technology to carefully keep the Dilithium faces in alignment with the matter/antimatter streams. A built in theta-matrix compositor allows for recrystallization to take place.

Magnetic Constrictors

Magnetic Constrictors provide support to the reaction chamber and guide and align the fuel flow. The magnetic constrictors are divided into segments of various components with the constrictor coils having dozens of active elements. As the fuel is released from the injector nozzles the constrictors compress it and increase the velocity considerably, thus ensuring the proper collision energy and alignment within the Core. In the event of an uncontrolled reaction that threatened to result in a Warp Core Breach, the magnetic constrictors could be locked down in an effort to terminate the injection of matter and antimatter into the reaction chamber.

Plasma Coolant Tank

The Plasma Coolant Tank is a component of the Warp Core that stores reactor coolant, a biohazard gas that is used to maintain stability due to the incredible heat released through the matter/antimatter reaction. Close monitoring of the Plasma Coolant Tank is conducted at all times as changes in reactor coolant can indicate a potential Warp Core Breach is in progress. Additionally, if ruptured, the plasma coolant is a lighter than air subspace that is highly dangerous as it will liquefy organic material on contact.

Power Transfer Conduits

Magnetically shielded Power Transfer Conduits are and advanced type of plasma conduit designed to carry warp plasma from the warp core to the engine nacelle. Power Transfer Conduits traditionally are built into the Intermix Chamber of the Warp Core and are similar to magnetic constrictors. Each starship is fitted with an individual PTC for each nacelle which, in turn, also contained linkages to the electro-plasma system to provide electrical energy for the vessel.

Reactant injector

The Reactant Injectors (one for Deuterium and one for Antideuterium) are utilized by the Warp Core to transfer fuel into the reaction chamber. The matter reactant injector is located at the top of the warp core and contains a series of injectors consisting of a twin deuterium manifold, fuel conditioner, fusion pre-burner, magnetic quench block, transfer duct/gas combiner, nozzle head, and related control hardware. This is used to heat the Deuterium which is then transfered into the constriction segments. The antimatter injector lies at the lower end of the warp core. Its internal design is significantly different than the Matter Reactant Injector due to the dangerous antimatter fuel it transfers. The structure contains three antimatter gas flow separators that break up the antimatter into and then distributes it through the constriction segments to the Dilithium Crystal Chamber.

Warp Drive Breach


A warp core breach is an emergency situation in which a vessel experiences a catastrophic failure of a starship's warp core that could result in destruction of the vessel. There are many forms that a Warp Drive Breach can take but the most common scenario is a result of containment loss within the Warp Core itself, often leading to an uncontrolled reaction within the Core, and the loss of containment of the matter and antimatter. All safety protocols automatically try to prevent the Breach; however, once a breach began, it was often irreversible. At this point Primary Hull Separation, evacuation or Warp Core Ejection can be initiated.

Warp Core Ejection


Warp Core Ejection is an emergency procedure aboard a warp capable vessel used to eject the warp core in order to prevent the destruction of the ship through a Warp Core breach. A last chance endeavor, ejection is initiated by either the Commanding Officer, Chief Engineer, or Duty Officer by either voice command or through the Chief Engineer's station on the Bridge or in Engineering. The ejection system will release the Warp Core into open space where it can potentially cool down for recovery, or detonate safely. When ejected, however, any nearby vessels are required to attempt to vacate the area immediately or risk potential destruction if the Core detonates. If the Core is lost recent Starship designs incorporate components to build a temporary replacement for use until the vessel can reach a Space Station.

Warp Drive Factors

Warp Factor Light Speed Travel Time (1 Light Year)
01 1 x Speed of Light 365 days, 6 hours
02 10 x Speed of Light 36 days, 5 hours, 41 minutes
03 39 x Speed of Light 9 days, 9 hours, 6 minutes
04 102 x Speed of Light 3 days, 14 hours, 17 minutes
05 214 x Speed of Light 1 day, 17 hours
06 393 x Speed of Light 22 hours, 20 minutes
07 656 x Speed of Light 13 hours, 21 minutes
08 1024 x Speed of Light 8 hours, 33 minutes
09 1516 x Speed of Light 5 hours, 46 minutes
10 Infinite Instantaneous

Real World


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