In The Search for Spock, the new USS Excelsior is equipped with a "transwarp" drive. The usage of "transwarp" is different here than in Voyager, as explained in

What is the difference between "Warp" and "Transwarp"?

In particular, "transwarp" in The Search for Spock refers to the ability of a ship to jump instantaneously from a standstill to any particular warp factor in the normal range of warp factors (although not every source agrees on this particular interpretation), whereas the Voyager references to transwarp, particularly in "Threshold", involve a warp drive capable of breaking the Warp 10 barrier. (On top of this, there are the Borg transwarp conduits.)

Concerning strictly the particular type of transwarp represented by the transwarp drive on the Excelsior, my question is:

What is the fate of the transwarp experiment on the Excelsior? Of course, in The Search for Spock, we only see the results of Scotty's sabotage ("from one surgeon to another..."). Presumably, the transwarp drive worked, at least in theory, and it was likely tested in simulations and in reality on smaller craft before being fitted to the Excelsior.

When we see the Excelsior again in The Undiscovered Country, it doesn't appear to have special warp capabilities — at least if it does, then no one seems to be bragging about it any more.

Did the Excelsior's transwarp drive eventually become standard issue for Starfleet ships, and henceforth just referred to by the usual moniker "warp drive"? Or was it shelved and, if so, why?

  • 2
    By the way, I always love the Doctor's line in "Threshold": It's possible that Mr. Paris represents a future stage in human development...although I can't say it's very attractive. – Praxis Feb 10 '15 at 18:51
  • Duplicate of this scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/5595/…? – Valorum Feb 10 '15 at 18:53
  • i think its partially answered, but his follow up question on whether ships use it currently and its now standard hasnt been answered, i Believe in next gen that they can skip the low warps and immediately obtain higher warp factors. typically you only see the slow increase in the higher warps, and picard simply says warp 5 go, and thats it. however in TOS i believe they do go through each stage of warp and speed up as they progress. – Himarm Feb 10 '15 at 18:59
  • 1
    @Richard : The question you refer to is only about the interpretation of transwarp, and in fact, I refer to this question myself in the body of my question. Please see Himarm's comment directly above. My question is both clear and legitimately different. Was the transwarp drive a success and is it a standard technology now? – Praxis Feb 10 '15 at 19:01
  • @Praxis - I'm happy to leave this be, for now. – Valorum Feb 10 '15 at 19:43

Two points. First, from Threshold and other episodes of TNG, DS9, and Voyager, we know the ships still accelerate through different warp speeds.

PARIS: See you at warp ten.
(The shuttlecraft flies off and enters warp.)
PARIS: Cochrane to Voyager. All systems are nominal. I'm increasing speed.
JANEWAY [OC]: We'll keep up with you as long as we can.
PARIS: Warp seven
PARIS [OC]: Warp eight.
TORRES: How's his dilithium matrix holding up?
PARIS [OC]: Warp nine.
JONAS: There's a slight variance in the warp field, but nothing to worry about.
TORRES: Okay. Torres to shuttlecraft Cochrane. You're clear for transwarp velocity.

No instantaneous jump to specific warp speed.

And from Memory alpha:

Although never directly addressed, the only evidence that the Excelsior was a failure as a transwarp prototype can be found in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, which stated that "the attempt to surpass the primary warp field efficiency barrier with the Transwarp Development Project in the early 2280s proved unsuccessful...".

In addition, the Star Trek Chronology speculates that the reference made by Data in TNG: "Evolution" stating "there has not been a system-wide technological failure on a starship in seventy-nine years," may have been in reference to the failure of the transwarp drive.

Not an on screen explanation, but as close to canon as anything.

  • 1
    I wouldnt take that Voyager quote to be that there is no jump to specific warp speeds - the Cochrane is a highly modified shuttle craft, operating at well beyond its standard limits. It only makes sense that you would slowly increase the envelope on the first few runs in order to catch issues as they arise, rather than go from normal to 2x normal and deal with any structural or power issues that jump out from nowhere as major problems rather than manifest gradually as you push the envelope. – Moo Feb 11 '15 at 9:39
  • @moo I'll check – user16696 Feb 11 '15 at 13:32

The statement by the OP that:

In particular, "transwarp" in The Search for Spock refers to the ability of a ship to jump instantaneously from a standstill to any particular warp factor in the normal range of warp factors (although not every source agrees on this particular interpretation),

relys on non canonical sources. The only thing that we know from canonical sources is that Excelsior was equipped with a new and improved warp drive called "transwarp" which may or may not have become the next generation of standard warp drive, much like the "time warp" of "The Cage", and that almost a century later the Borg used "transwarp" corridors and in "Threshold" the Voyager crew tested a radically different theoretical space drive called "transwarp".

It is unknown whether "transwarp" is used to refer to one, two or three different technologies.

And the later status of the "transwap" technology on Excelsior in The Search for Spock is unknown in all canonical sources.

  • 1
    To me, the 'transwarp' just stands for 'faster than warp' or 'beyond warp'. Anything faster than warp would be 'transwarp' – Evert Mar 11 '18 at 9:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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