What is a Quantum Slipstream Drive?
Otherwise known as “QSD” or “slipstream drive,” this is the latest in propulsion technology allowing a starship to travel at 300-lightyears-per-hour, or equivalent of warp factor 9.99998477. It is, in principle similar, to transwarp corridors used by the Borg and it was developed from technology the USS Voyager brought back from the Delta Quadrant.
How does it work?
QSD works very differently from a standard warp drive that has warp coils and nacelles. The slipstream drive routes energy through the deflector, which focuses a quantum field, allowing the vessel to penetrate the quantum barrier. The ship then enters the “slipstream.”
Does every ship have a slipstream?
As 2390, all new ships will be fitted with a slipstream drive where resources and logic suggest they would be appropriate. Starfleet wants to use the technology to expand the reach of the Federation. Older vessels will be fitted with QSD if it makes sense for their mission . A number of vessel in the StarBase 118 fleet are fitted with slipstream, and you can see a list of ships on our wiki.
Why still have conventional warp?
There are a number of limitations to slipstream drive, as it can only run for 12 hours maximum before the drive is required to shut down for 36 hours. The drive also requires 40 minutes of warm-up preparation, overseen by a trained and certified Starfleet Engineer, before it can be engaged. Slipstream Drive itself puts significant wear on the vessel’s hull, and higher than normal maintenance times are required to carefully scan the starship for hull wear. In practice, QSD is used as an additional propulsion system to travel long distances, or in case of emergencies, rather than the primary propulsion system.