Quantum Slipstream Drive
|Name||Quantum Slipstream Drive|
Quantum phase inversion propulsion the so-called "slipstream drive" is a technology that has come a long way in the last eight years. The technology was originally discovered by U.S.S. Voyager, NCC-74656 during her passage through Delta quadrant, and was actually successfully used by that vessel twice, in 2375 (for approximately 47 seconds) and in 2377 (for several hours). It was the excitement of Voyager's use of slipstream in her journey home that prompted experiments into the technology.
The slipstream is a narrowly-focused, directed warp field that is initiated by manipulating the fabric of the space-time continuum at the quantum level. It works by focusing a quantum field through a deflector dish to generate massive changes in local space curvature; this creates a subspace tunnel, which is projected in front of the vessel. Once a ship has entered this tunnel, the forces inside propel it at incredible speed. In order to maintain the slipstream a ship has to constantly modify the quantum field with its deflector dish.
Unfortunately, that excitement was short-lived: it was discovered that Voyager's successful use of slipstream was a fluke, and the ship could have been destroyed or severely damaged by her use of it. In theory, quantum phase inversion involves creating a bubble of quantum subspace, into which the starship is inserted. That bubble is then linked through a conduit to a distant point in space. The bubble transits through the conduit very quickly, appearing to cross enormous distances in very little time. Once the destination is reached, the bubble is collapsed and the starship emerges into real space at her destination.
In practice, the use of slipstream technology was problematic at best. Although short-lived conduits could be generated relatively easily, a major problem plagued the project: quantum phase variances. During the transit, these variances had a tendency to disrupt the conduit, overloading the quantum bubble and prematurely dropping the starship out of slipstream, with disastrous results. Several successful tests were conducted in 2386, but they were done with vessel sizes no greater than about 16 meters long.
After years of frustrating research, a rather embarrassing breakthrough was made in 2391 when it was discovered that the testing methodology itself was flawed: all of the ships used in prior experiments included warp nacelles, included as part of the matter/antimatter power system as a matter of course. When this seemingly obvious oversight was remedied, several possible theoretical models for successful transit through a slipstream conduit emerged. Soon after, it was realized that a slipstream-capable ship could incorporate warp nacelles if a method to render them energy-neutral was included also, and their z-axis compression was within a very thin tolerance. The race to build a slipstream-capable starship was on.
The Katana class starship is the first Starfleet design specifically built around the quantum phase inversion propulsion technology. Though a relatively small ship, the Katana class frigates should provide a suitable testbed on which to refine slipstream further. Already, though, several drawbacks to this propulsion technology have been identified. First, as stated above, the phase variances of the matrix need to be carefully monitored at all times. Failure to do so could result in the matrix overloading and the vessel dropping out of the conduit unexpectedly. Second, only low energy deflectors may be used during transit: high energy deflectors will disrupt the matrix or prevent its formation entirely.
From an external perspective, slipstream conduits are extremely easy to track, and are quite obvious to even relatively primitive sensors. Therefore, they should not be used near planets settled by low technology civilizations protected by the Prime Directive. Further, the obvious nature of the conduit's formation effectively announces the arrival of a slipstream-capable starship as much as 20 seconds before the starship can exit the conduit. This is a significant tactical disadvantage. Much like transwarp conduits, slipstream conduits can also be disrupted by high-energy explosions across their subspace threshhold or transition path. A ship outside the conduit but in the path of it can therefore bring the slipstream-capable vessel out of the slipstream with a well-placed torpedo blast or use of similar weaponry. If the helm officer's reflexes are not sufficient to the task, a starship caught in such a disruption will certainly be destroyed.
Finally, slipstream is a singularly inexact science at present. Local electromagnetic field flux values and local subspace field densities can greatly influence the speed at which a starship passes through the conduit. In areas of high electromagnetic field flux or low subspace field densities (such as the vicinity of planetary systems), the transit speed decreases dramatically. In comparitively more empty interstellar space, the transit speed can become dangerously high.
These drawbacks, while significant, have not delayed the promise of the quantum phase inversion propulsion system. There is one simple reason: slipstream is fast. A vessel passing through such a conduit can reach average speeds the equivalent of warp 9.9998, or approximately 140,000 times the speed of light. Slipstream holds the promise of forever changing Starfleet's reach in the cosmos; therefore, the experiments will likely continue well into the future.
- A ship`s Draft (height) of No more than 75 meters may be used.
- Only low energy Deflector Dishes may be used (meaning a Ship using Slipstream may achieve a much lower "normal warp" velocity (around Warp 7)
- Slipstream may not be used near or around any solar systems containing civilizations protected by the Prime Directive.
- No launches (of any sort ie: torpedoes, craft, pods) may be done while at Slipstream.
- Slipstream Drive is Not suited for Warships or ships that are believed to find themselves in combat situations often.