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Maximum warp

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"Maximum Warp" redirects here. For the Pocket Books miniseries, see Star Trek: The Next Generation - Maximum Warp.

Maximum warp (or top warp speed) was the maximum warp factor velocity a starship was designed for and a term whereby a bridge officer could ask the flight controller to accelerate the ship to its highest possible velocity.

The maximum warp velocity and the time it could be maintained by a starship varied between classes. This was due to energy output limitations of the warp core and limitations of other systems, such as the warp coils, the structural integrity field, and the amount of energy the propulsion system could handle without overloading. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly"; DS9: "The Sound of Her Voice"; TOS: "The Changeling")

In the early days of warp drive development, the top speed capabilities took massive leaps in the mid-22nd century after the warp 2 barrier was broken. (ENT: "First Flight") The invention of the warp three engine allowed early Earth starships to travel ten times faster, (ENT: "Fortunate Son") while ships installed with the warp five engine could travel a hundred times faster. (ENT: "Broken Bow") The increase in capabilities slowed down later on, as the Starfleet ships of the 2370s were only twice as fast as the ships used in the 2290s. (VOY: "Flashback")

Galaxy-class ships, such as the USS Enterprise-D, could maintain their maximum warp for approximately twelve hours. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", "The Best of Both Worlds") Intrepid-class ships such the USS Voyager, on the other hand, could maintain it from three days up to two months. (VOY: "Workforce", "Workforce, Part II", "Friendship One")

The USS Carolina traveled 0.7 light years in two hours when at maximum warp. (VOY: "Inside Man")

This is equivalent to a speed of 3,066 times the speed of light.

Even though the Nova-class was designed to travel at a maximum speed of warp factor 8, when the USS Equinox powered its warp drive with energy derived from the corpses of nucleogenic lifeforms, an increase of 0.03% was added to the warp factor, allowing the velocity of traveling ten thousand light years in less than two weeks. (VOY: "Equinox")

This is equivalent to a speed well over 260,000 times speed of light.

Maximum warp limitations by class

Original Cochrane Unit warp scale

Maximum warp requests

Background information

There is evidence that maximum warp is not always the absolute highest reachable warp factor. For example, in ENT: "Affliction", the Enterprise NX-01 already travels at maximum warp, but then accelerates to Warp 5.2. A similar occurrence is depicted in DS9: "The Sound of Her Voice": The USS Defiant already travels at maximum warp, but then accelerates to Warp 9.5.

In both TNG: "Time Squared" and TNG: "Bloodlines", maximum warp seems to be equivalent with warp 9, although the Enterprise-D can move faster in other episodes.

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