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Given warp-field technology in Star Trek canon, is it possible for a non-warp ship to use the warp bubble of another (warp capable) ship to exceed light speed? A sort of nascar 'drafting' if you will.

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Yeah, I guess so, but it would have to be small enough to fit in the warp bubble. –  Mark Rogers Apr 25 at 17:45

3 Answers 3

up vote 23 down vote accepted

Yes, you can 'ride' in the wake of a warp capable ship, despite not having a fully functional warp engine of your own.

In the Enterprise episode "Unexpected", we see a (cloaked) ship hiding within the Enterprise' warp field. At the start of the episode, they're both travelling at warp. After their discovery, the following exchange occurs;

TRENA'L [OC]: I apologize for any damage we've caused. Our engines are malfunctioning and we've been using your plasma exhaust to replenish our teraphasic coils. It's allowed us to share your warp field.

T'POL: Their warp reactor is offline.

ARCHER: We can't help you unless we can see you, so why don't you disconnect whatever stealth device you're using. (the ship appears aft of Enterprise)

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This looks like a solid yes answer but, what are "teraphasic coils" and why are they necessary to allow the Xyrillian starship to share a warp field? Are these coils some part of their warp drive? In any case that was a ballsy move. –  Morgan Apr 26 at 1:44
    
I just found- according to memory Alpha, a teraphasic coil was a type of warp coil utilized by the Xyrillians in the early 22nd century. Hmmm this was a warp ship who's warp engines were apparently offline and replenishing so they weren't 'assisting' the Enterprise's warp field function while they were 'drafting'. It fits, I like. Good answer. –  Morgan Apr 26 at 2:13
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Again, that was some sick flying by the Xyrillian crew. They couldn't make contact with the Enterprise or they would be discovered or destroy both ships and they couldn't get separation or they would loose the warp field 'draft'. New standards in tight formation flying. –  Morgan Apr 26 at 2:22

In ENT Divergence we see Tucker being transferred at warp from one spaceship (Columbia) to another (Enterprise). This is made possible by the two ships flying so close to another that their warp bubbles touch and Tucker never leaves a bubble. Assuming that Tucker has no warp-sustainer device and is otherwise incapable of travelling at warp speed it is to be assumed that for him the same laws apply as they would to a ship: They can sponge off a warp bubble and exceed light speed.

enter image description here

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@Richard Thanks for the pic! –  Einer Apr 27 at 11:29
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I'm disappointed at the lack of a crudely drawn red circle. Maybe I'll add one later... –  Richard Apr 27 at 12:18

When a starship tows another starship, it is able to bring a ship a long with it at warp speed using a tractor beam.

To safely tow a vessel at warp speed, the target vessel's engines had to be deactivated to avoid shearing forces against towing vessel. http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Tractor_beam

Presumably a small ship inside the warp field of a larger ship moving at the same speed and direction of the warp ship, should be able to "draft" the other ship's warp speed.

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Is that statement referenced on MemoryA? Thx –  DVK Apr 25 at 18:19

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