In Star Trek: First Contact, warp drive inventor Zefram Cochrane explains to Riker,

You wanna know what my vision is? Dollar signs — money! I didn't build this ship to usher in a new era for humanity. You think I wanna see the stars? I don't even like to fly! I take trains!

How exactly was he planning to make money off of his warp drive invention? Was he planning to provide a service? If so, what was this service supposed to be and who would benefit? (If the service were travel, then who would be travelling and to where? If the service were cargo, then what and from where to where?) If he was planning to sell off the invention to a buyer, who in the shattered post-World-War-III economy would have bought it and why? A surviving corporation? A military faction?

If the end goal were money, it seems unlikely that someone would attempt a project of such magnitude and complexity without having a definite idea about how to translate the outcome into profit.

(I am especially looking for canon / extended universe information.)

  • Just so you know, my answer is an 'in Universe' answer - it explains why the Italians would have in-universe reasons to purchase a ship, based off of on-screen evidence. If you mean an answer sourced from official materials, you mean a 'canon' answer. Star Trek 'canon' is a fairly nebulous thing, though.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 13:37
  • @Jeff : I did mean canon, sorry. But I do like your answer, nonetheless. :-)
    – Praxis
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 13:47
  • @Jeff : That being said, Richard's answer is more specific as to Zefram's actual plan, re: the Indonesians.
    – Praxis
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 14:02
  • Indeed. That said, what he says (and what the novelization says) directly contradicts the film, where Cochrane is going to sell to the Italians, not the Indonesians. And my answer explains why the Italians/Indonesians would be willing to pay for it.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 14:36
  • @Jeff : I can't find any reference to Italians in the script (chakoteya.net/movies/movie8.html). Scripts sometimes differ from the final product, but I don't recall Cochrane making a statement about Italians. Are you sure they were mentioned in the film?
    – Praxis
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


According to the film's official novelisation, he was bankrolled by a consortium of foreign powers including the Indonesian govt. He's pretty worried about whether they're actually gonna cough up. Note that although he plays the brigand, he's actually in it for the science and for his platonic love of Lily.

And if there were other beings out there Please, God, don‟t let them be bad guys. Let them bring help.

I have a deal with some Indonesians, Zef finally said. They see the potential and know it‟ll take some time. But they‟re willing to pay millions.

Indonesia, huh? She had paused and rubbed her freezing arms. Is it warm there?


So for the next few years, they played a little game with each other: he pretended to be nothing more than a hard-bitten entrepreneur desperate to strike it rich, while she pretended to be nothing more than a hard- bitten thief hungry for a piece of the action. They were in it strictly for the money, because the war and its subsequent hell had taught them that dreams and futures were made to be shattered. Idealism was for fools, as were feelings. Or so she reminded herself everytime she dragged him from the Crash & Burn and tucked him into his own bed when he was too drunk to find his way home, or kept watch over him everytime a minor setback on the project plunged him into a depression so deep he threatened suicide.

Affection had nothing to do with it, she told herself. She was merely taking care of her investment.

In the future…

Beside her, Zef grunted, bringing her back into the present—to the frozen mud and biting air. She shivered and rubbed her arms as she had done so long ago, then stared up at the star-littered night sky, wondering. Would it really happen? Would they be up there making history tomorrow as the first two people to travel using warp drive?

And would the Indonesians really pay them all that money? She stared dreamily up at the glittering darkness, allowing herself for the first time to consider success. What would it be like, to have a solidly constructed house with real running water and her own charging station and car? To pay a farmer to grow anything she wanted? To indulge in the shameless luxury of feeding a pet dog?

as to what Zef claims that he's planning to do with all that money;

“You‟re damn right you can‟t. But I can. I didn‟t build this ship to usher in a new era for humanity. You think I want to go to the stars? I don‟t even like to fly! I take trains! I built this ship so I could retire to some tropical island filled with naked women. That‟s Zefram Cochrane.


A warp-capable ship would be extremely efficient at making the nation which possessed it wealthy. Not through exploration, but through exploitation of the solar system's resources. A warp ship would be able to quickly and efficiently travel to the system's other planetoids and retrieve raw materials.

The asteroid belt contains more wealth in precious metals than the entire Earth's current GDP. The other planetary bodies contain more exploitable resources, but they'd hardly be needed. The warp engine is the key to the exploitation of the resources of our solar system. A trip to the asteroid belt and back (or to the asteroid belt and then an orbital smelter) would take minutes instead of weeks.

A steady influx of raw materials, especially when recovering from a massive war, is a sure-fire way to restart your economy. The country that possessed it could have employed thousands of people in building, staffing, and working in their brand-new orbital smelting platforms.

All of those people would need housing, food, roads, and all of the other logistical support you need to live. That means jobs across all areas of an economy.

It would have been hellishly difficult and expensive to create a warp engine, but once you have one it pays off in spades.

TL;DR: Space: The Exploitable Frontier; It's resources, so long out of humanity's reach, can serve to restart a war-devastated economy.

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