As I have seen in Star Trek: The First Contact, the project didn't look like a government project. Such projects require a huge amount of money beyond the reach of any personal funding (even if we consider Cochrane rich, which didn't appear to be the case).

For example, the cost of antimatter alone today is US$62.5 trillion per gram which I don't think would become cheaper than petroleum within 50 years (in the Star Trek universe, following the 3rd world war, the world economy should be tougher than real world, too). Other than antimatter, there are various other things.

Where did Cochrane get the funding for such enormously expensive non-commercial project?

  • I wondered the same thing when I saw the film.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 27, 2013 at 3:19
  • 3
    Last I know, a gram of anti-matter hasn't even been produced on Earth, as of now (but I may easily be wrong). However, that absurd price tag comes also from the transitive hull of the personnel and equipment involved. If you manage to get your hands on the equipment (which might be surprisingly easy after such a devastating war --- either because nobody will care about it, or anti-matter production is ubiquitous due to the war) you can produce that stuff yourself, if you can collect enough energy.
    – bitmask
    Jun 27, 2013 at 8:45
  • Was it stated in the film that they were using an antimatter-powered engine? I know that's the standard for Star Trek, but it could be that they were using a more mundane nuclear reactor to power the experiment (obviously this would still be very expensive).
    – evilsoup
    Jun 27, 2013 at 16:29
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    I seem to have miss-placed my copy, but I believe the novelization covered more details. Zephram was basically portrayed as a a garage inventor. He was able to get access to an de-activated nuclear missile. and was able to recruit a good engineer 'Lily Sloane' to assist. I got the impression the whole project was put together with spare parts, bailing wire, duct tape, and extremely huge helping of inspired genius on the part of Zephram and his engineer Lily Sloane.
    – Zoredache
    Jun 28, 2013 at 7:48
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    @Zoredache - Lily's quote in the movie "It took me 6 months to scrounge up enough titanium just to build a 4 metre cockpit" adds credence to your suggestion.
    – Compro01
    Jul 5, 2013 at 23:14

3 Answers 3


It's not really made all that clear in the movie exactly how the project was funded - some of the conversations make it seem like a government project (they're worried about some of the other post-war factions attacking) but, on the other hand, there doesn't seem to be any kind of military security that a project like this would entail.

As for "antimatter unlikely to become cheaper than petroleum within 50 years" - it doesn't have to be for the project to work, but it does have to be relatively more obtainable and storable than our current technology allows.

Also - wars do tend to accelerate technology - particularly if that technology could have a destructive effect. Think of the Manhattan Project as a parallel - the second world war accelerated efforts into the development of nuclear fission weapons. It could be that antimatter production and weaponry would be similarly accelerated in the war before Cochrane's project.

  • 3
    @SachinShekhar: sure, but the whole premise of Star Trek post-Next Gen is that World War III was a cataclysmic event for earth, with many governments and societies destroyed. Sh— got loose, yo. Jun 26, 2013 at 22:46
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    @SachinShekhar: instead of “Sh—”? An expletive! Jun 27, 2013 at 7:48
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    @SachinShekhar: Nope, the "struggle" for the Atom bomb you describe would be political or ethical for today's nations, not at all technological. Building an Atom bomb that goes boom (that is, if you're not after the most reliable bomb possible) is childsplay. The hard part is getting the material, which is a resource you cannot synthesise. With Anti-matter bombs, that's a different story. The resource can be synthesised from your favourite energy source (I'd say, this is basically due to the gamma particle being its own anti-particle). The tricky part is storage.
    – bitmask
    Jun 27, 2013 at 8:54
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    @SachinShekhar: Uhm ... no. The stuff you put in reactors isn't suitable for bombs.
    – bitmask
    Jun 28, 2013 at 11:16
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    @SachinShekhar - they aren't superpowers, but they aren't a single alcoholic dude in the garage either :) Jun 28, 2013 at 13:52

It is not mentioned in the movies or any of the shows I have seen. Cochrane is mentioned only in passing a few times and actually has a short cameo in Enterprise. At the sake of being chastised, the only explanation that makes sense is that Cochrane may have stolen or otherwise illicitly acquired the necessary materials; he didn't actually pay for anything.

You bring up valid points and all question Cochrane's funding, but the theft theory easily answers them.

It is clear that Cochrane was a bit of a scoundrel. He was a drunk and self absorbed. He even admits in the movie that he only made the warp engine for the money (so that rules out stealing money to buy the materials). He was likely going to sell it to the highest bidder, despite what they might do with it.

Considering the timeline puts Cochrane in a war ravaged world, where most militaries and governments have collapsed and devolved into "faction" rivalry, and also considering his pre-warp character, it seems likely to me that Cochrane acquired the necessary materials illicitly. He either stole them or salvaged them from abandoned government buildings, machines, or vehicles. We are given very little history about Cochrane before the movie timeline. Considering he was smart enough to design and build a warp engine it is not a stretch to say that he previously worked for one of the governments on some high level stuff (like antimatter bombs) where he would have had access to these things. This might also explain why he was in the middle of Nowhere, Montana; he was hiding out.

  • 1
    I'm pretty sure it was on the border of "illicitly acquired"; he did build the Phoenix out of an old/abandoned nuclear missile. Somehow I doubt he bought it at the flea market... (But is it theft if it was discarded?)
    – Izkata
    Jul 6, 2013 at 1:45
  • @Izkata yes, I did address salvage.
    – user15742
    Jul 7, 2013 at 15:54

Seeing how he repurposed missiles and launch tubes he seems to get his "funding" from dumped military goods. Not unlike NASA used to! And the help from volunteers that believe in him.

Science doesn't cost money. Living and building materials do. Building materials apparently came cheap (with so few humans around to compete for them) and living was supported by the people in the settlement.

My only question is how he could be so fond of drinks and still do revolutionary research.

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