Soliton Wave
The soliton wave is a method of warp propulsion that could revolutionize the way spacecraft are powered.

Although still in its testing stages, the soliton wave may one day eliminate the need for bulky warp engines and nacelles. Using the wave as a propulsion system takes away the onboard problems of maintaining the heavy fuel and energy generating equipment needed to achieve warp speeds. An Impulse Propulsion System (IPS) would still be required, but the size and energy specifications are much less significant. The theory behind the soliton wave is to create a swell of subspace distortion that a ship can ride like a surfboard between points 'A' and 'B'. Although the soliton wave would require the two points - planets or planetoids - to be equipped with wave generators and wave dispersal facilities, the energy and power efficiency benefits make it a worthwhile proposition. The soliton wave provides warp speed without a warp drive.

To initiate the propulsion wave from point A on a planet's surface, field coils create the soliton wave and direct it towards the coordinates of a waiting ship. The ship is then enveloped by the wave and rides it at warp speeds to point B, which may be several light years away, where the energy of the wave is scattered by a sister facility on the planet. The ship drops out of warp as the wave is dispersed. The leading developer of the soliton wave is Dr. Ja'Dar, a scientist from Bilana III. Ja'Dar conducted key tests, with the help of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D, in 2368, stardate 45376.3. The first full test of the soliton wave provided much excitement for those involved; they historically compared it to the breaking of the sound barrier by Chuck Yeager in 1947, and the light speed barrier by Zefram Cochrane in 2063. During initial testing, the Enterprise was instructed to record telemetric data, while keeping 20 kilometers away from the test ship because of the high levels of subspace interference generated by the wave. Once the unmanned test was towed to a position two million kilometers from Bilana III, the test commenced and the field generators were charged, sending the wave. This appeared as a bluish, rippling band of light that enveloped the ship and successfully carried it to warp speeds. The Enterprise followed the wave and monitored all relevant data.

At first the wave was steady and stable, and the test ship's speed was recored at warp 2.3. There was two percent energy loss between the wave and the ship, suggesting the system was over 450 percent more efficient than the warp drive of a Galaxy-class starship. Following this, however, the wave efficiency suddenly dropped to 73 percent, due to a power fluctuation. As the warp field became unstable, severe subspace disruptions occurred. This effect expanded, and even caused damage to the nearby Enterprise. The test ship dropped out of warp, and exploded due to severe shearing stress. It was reported that a sudden drop in transfer efficiency occurred just before the explosion. The wave, however, continued toward the terminus at planet Lemma II, but its power increased at an exponential rate. The scattering field on Lemma II was not designed to cope with a wave this powerful, and the Enterprise was forced to fly through the wave and head it off at the pass, firing a salvo of photon torpedoes to disrupt it. This dangerous maneuver stopped the soliton wave and save many lives on the planet.

The initial tests on the soliton wave were therefore only partly successful, and its practicality remains uncertain. Whether the soliton wave will ever replace warp drive on starships remains to be seen, although early tests reveal some advantages to the wave. For now, Dr. Ja'Dar and the other scientists are at least left to ponder the results of this test and work out how to make the procedure less dangerous.