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The Quantum Slipstream Drive is an advanced form of interstellar propulsion allowing starships to break through the warp speed barrier. The crew of the U.S.S. Voyager acquired the technology in 2374 from Species 116 in the Delta Quadrant. A later test of the drive in 2375 nearly led to the destruction of Voyager, and it was decided to put the use of the device on hold.
A starship equipped with a Quantum Slipstream Drive can travel 1.6 million times the speed of light.
The Slipstream Drive uses a rare and unstable form of crystal, called benamite. Without the use of benamite, the power needed to generate and maintain the Slipstream corridor safely would be impossible.
A Quantum Slipstream Drive operates by routing energy through the vessel's main deflector, which then focuses a quantum field, allowing the vessel to penetrate the quantum barrier. In order to maintain the slipstream, the phase variance of the quantum field has to be constantly adjusted, or the slipstream will collapse, violently throwing the ship back into normal space.
Generating slipstream corridors requires more power than forming warp fields; the power required is directly related to the frontal geometry of a vessel and lesser so the ship geometry. Therefore, slipstream propelled ships are generally narrow and compact with aerodynamic lines.
The Navigator-Class was the first operational class to utilize a fully functional Quantum Slipstream Drive. 30 years of extensive research and development has allowed Starfleet to overcome the setbacks of the technology that was experienced by the U.S.S. Voyager in 2375, though Starfleet Command is slow to install them on existing ships. This is exacerbated by the fact that not all existing starship designs are compatable with the technology. The new Odyssey-class is specificaly designed for Slipstream travel and has a fully functional Drive installed. Along with the Odyssey-class, Starfleet has reactivated the Vesta-class line of starships, Starfleet's first attempt to design a ship to house the slipstream drive. Though the original design of the Vesta is 30 years old, it has been brought up to current specifications and is one of the most advanced ship lines in the fleet.
Current configurations of the drive have a Chroniton Integrator, which can be used to take sensor readings several seconds into the future when the Slipstream Drive is active. Also included is a Benamite Recrystallization Matrix, which is a device used to repair fractured benamite crystals within a Quantum Slipstream Drive. Without the Recrystalization Matrix, the crystals would begin to rapidly degrade and the Slipstream Drive would be rendered nonfunctional within days. New to the use of slipstream equiped ships is the Quantum Field Focus Controller, allowing the ship to keep it's shields and communication systems online and at 100% during Slipstream travel.
The existence of the Quantum Slipstream Drive is highly classified and remains unknown to the galaxy at large. The use of a Slipstream Drive is highly regulated and requires the explicate authorization of Starfleet Command.
All Captainsofstarships equipped with a Slipstream Drive are required to prevent it's existance from becoming known by any means nesessary, within the bounds of Federation law.