Within the Trek Universe, if a Starship was to enter warp while at full impulse, would it still be at full impulse when it dropped out of warp?

In the same vein; Is it even possible to enter warp while at full impulse?

Is there any mention in canon of using a ship's pre-warp speed after it dropped out of warp?

Can a ship change its momentum while in warp?

  • 2
    While warping, ship's impulse engines are still needed for movement...
    – user931
    Jan 25, 2014 at 18:12
  • 1
    Faster than light, no left or right
    – Valorum
    Jan 25, 2014 at 19:30
  • And how many times did they retcon THAT, Richard? :-) Jan 28, 2014 at 6:28

6 Answers 6


According to the wikipedia about Star Trek


Warp drive is a hypothetical faster-than-light (FTL) propulsion system in the setting of many science fiction works, most notably Star Trek. A spacecraft equipped with a warp drive may travel at apparent speeds greater than that of light by many orders of magnitude, while circumventing the relativistic problem of time dilation. In contrast to many other fictional FTL technologies, such as a "jump drive" or the Infinite Improbability Drive, the warp drive does not permit instantaneous travel between two points; instead, warp drive technology creates an artificial "bubble" of normal space-time that surrounds the spacecraft (as opposed to entering a separate realm or dimension like hyperspace, as is used in the Star Wars, Stargate franchise, Warhammer 40,000, Babylon 5, Cowboy Bebop and Andromeda universes).

Another explanation of the Warp Drive from the Star Trek Wikia Memory Alpha


Warp drive was a technology that allowed space travel at faster-than-light speeds. It worked by generating warp fields to form a subspace bubble that enveloped the starship, distorting the local spacetime continuum and moving the starship at velocities that could greatly exceed the speed of light. These velocities were referred to as warp factors. Warp drive was the most common form of interstellar propulsion used in the Milky Way Galaxy, making interstellar exploration, commerce, and warfare possible.

I don't believe there is any canon evidence showing what exact speed they always use when exiting... But from the above mentioned quote I think it's safe to assume that the ship itself can change it's speed during flight because in all technicality they are warping the space around the ship itself. This means that the ship is moving faster than light simply because it's warping the space surrounding the ship. When they exit warp for the most part I have seen they usually use tactics to see what speed they should go when exiting it, such as full impulse if they are trying to get somewhere in a hurry or a slower speed for stealth. That is if they are trying to drop out of warp close to enemies or a dangerous planet or such.

Edit: As for the second question I don't see any reason as to why they can't enter warp at full impulse power because the space around the ship is simply being warped which is what causes the ship to go faster than light.


Warp speed apparently isn't a phase shift or a jump to hyperspace. Warp speed can be achieved by acceleration alone, as seen in the third season DS9 episode "Explorers." Sisko constructed a wooden ship propelled by a light sail and set off in it with his son. During their voyage the ship was bombarded by tachyons that accelerated the ship to some unknown warp speed, propelling them from the Bajoran system to Cardassian space. Once the tachyon bombardment subsided the ship decelerated by unknown means to sublight speed.

  • 5
    The bajoran sunship (sic) was likely engineered to create a warp field using the tachyons. It definitely wasn't simple acceleration: the law of relativity is canon.
    – DougM
    Jan 26, 2014 at 1:22
  • 1
    @DougM Bajoran lightships weren't designed for warp speeds. That was purely accidental. Tachyons are a hypothetical particle that naturally moves faster-than-light.
    – Izkata
    Jan 26, 2014 at 1:37
  • 4
    mayhap, @izkata... but it certainly didn't make a warp jump by simple acceleration.
    – DougM
    Jan 26, 2014 at 1:58
  • 2
    It could be that the tachyons bombarding the ship caused it to warp the space around it, when the tachyon bombardment stopped the space around the ship itself would no longer be warped slowing down their speed... Jan 27, 2014 at 19:54

This is a really interesting question. Others have already looked up the cannon references. How abut a lateral reference? NASA is researching a theoretical warp bubble drive called the Alcubierre Drive: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive. The Alcubierre drive says that you do not move within the bubble.

"The ship would then ride this wave inside a region of flat space, known as a warp bubble, and would not move within this bubble but instead be carried along as the region itself moves due to the actions of the drive"

Considering that the spirit of Star Trek is to mimic REAL physics wherever possible, this design looks to be the most likely version of the legit Star Trek warp drive to date.


The people at the controls of the ship would input whatever speed they wanted to be at when they dropped from warp speed.

  • 2
    Can you provide any references or examples that prove that?
    – Memnoch
    Jan 27, 2014 at 2:46

The ship is not moving in the space/time warp bubble, it's moving the space outside of it, so I don't think the ship would retain any velocity dropping out warp.

  • 1
    Can you offer any canon example that backs this up, or is it purely your own opinion?
    – Valorum
    Jan 25, 2014 at 20:56
  • 1
    It is the science behind the warp (Alcubierre) drive. In the the episode "Metamorphosis," from the original series is stated that Zefram Cochrane discovered the space warp. Here is how the space warping works.
    – Smilev
    Jan 25, 2014 at 23:57
  • 4
    None of this is in the slightest bit canon. It's a fan theory by a NASA scientist
    – Valorum
    Jan 26, 2014 at 0:31

Im trying to remember, but there was an episode where the captain used warp to jump from where the enemy was firing to right in front of the enemy ship, for this to work the ship would have had to come out of warp at full stop.
Found it: The Picard Maneuver

  • This doesn't really answer the question of whether the ship retains the speed it did when it entered warp.
    – Valorum
    Feb 3, 2014 at 22:20
  • Well if warp does not effect your speed, then the speed that the ship is going when the warp field drops should be the speed that it had coming into it, or graphically we would always see the ship coming out of warp at full stop then speeding up.
    – tik27
    Feb 3, 2014 at 23:02
  • Well, in that particular episode, we only see the ship enter warp and then immediately get caught in a tractor beam. There's no indication of speed on entry or exit.
    – Valorum
    Feb 4, 2014 at 0:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.