ComparisonNotes Enterprise
Episode IIThe Original Series
Episode IIIMovies
Episode IVThe Next Generation
Episode VDeep Space 9
Episode VIVoyager
Star TrekStar Wars Related Reading
Power Generation TechnologyFTL Travel
STL Travel
In "Emissary," we learn that the nearest star to the wormhole on the Gamma Quadrant side is 5 light years away, and ~70,000 light years from the wormhole. (The latter figure is altered in "Captive Pursuit," where the region of interest is noted as 90,000 light years away.) These are coupled with long-haul estimates suggesting sustained speeds of ~1,000c.See Details

With few explicit distances given in the rest of the series, a long series of minimum speed estimates for runabouts follow from the 5 light year figure, accompanied by a very few direct estimates. See Details It is clear from this family of references that runabouts, noted in "Dax" as being implicitly incapable of exceeding warp five, must be capable of emergency speeds in excess of 35,000c and cruising speeds of 2,000+c, at least for short haul travel.

It is only through close examination that we can extract substantial amounts of information about FTL speeds in DS9. Relatively slow speeds can be seen at close distancesSee Details. FTL comms seem in some cases not much faster than ships, although in some cases this implies very high ship speeds.

See DetailsFor example, in "Battle Lines," it would take Starfleet's fastest starship 67 years to travel to the other end of the wormhole, i.e., 1045-1343c.

See DetailsIn most cases, some detailed examination of the episodes is necessary. In no case are both time and distance known, although there are definite constraints on both in every case.

"Vortex" - Sisko tells a Gamma Quadrant civilization to expect their prisoner back in no more than 52 hours; Odo delays at least 1 hour before departing. As a minimum 10 light year trip with a maximum time of 51 hours, speed is at least 1719c. If the transit took 25.5 hours in each direction, then the pursuing Miradorn ship, by catching up in less than 5 hours, traveled at least 8766c.

"Whispers" - the Parada system is an hour and fourteen minutes from the wormhole by runabout; thus, the runabout can go over 35500c.

"The Alternate" - a planet six light years from the wormhole is reached in what appears to be a very short time; Odo then drives back in a hurry with three critically injured (unconscious and paralyzed) individuals, two of whom survive subsequent treatment. Unstable patients in critical condition from massive damage to respiratory systems and requiring respirators are unlikely to survive more than a couple hours; it would appear likely that the trip back took an hour or possibly less in this light, which would be a speed of 52600c (or possibly more).

To establish a low end estimate, the entire twelve light year trip appears to have taken less than one rejuvenation cycle by at least five hours; given Odo's 16 hour cycle, this would imply an average speed of 9562+c.

As the series progresses, we go further into the Gamma Quadrant; unfortunately, how far is not clear.

"Dramatis Personae" gives logs of one of the first Klingon explorations into the Gamma Quadrant. Day 22, Bird of Prey exploring new system. Day 23, returning to DS9. Thus, the Bird of Prey moved at a speed of 913c or more by returning in one day.

"The Jem'Hadar" - the round trip to an unsurveyed Gamma Quadrant planet is less than 72 hours round trip, with at least 24 hours of the trip involving being stopped in orbit. This is roughly two years after the discovery of the wormhole. Similarly, in "Meridian" - Charting a new system in the Gamma Quadrant a bit over two years after the wormhole was opened, Dax meets a friend. They spend about a week there, after which it is stated that Meridian will shift to a noncorporeal state in 5 days, and that Dax will find out how good a Tongo player she really is "next Tuesday night." After playing on DS9, Dax returns to the planet in time for the dephasing. The round trip to and from Meridian therefore took five days, including Dax's stopover on DS9.

The absolute minimum speeds for those two episodes, from "Emissary," are respectively 1826c and 730c. In both cases, the runabouts are surveying in a leisurely fashion; in both cases, there are substantial stopovers; in both cases, they are surveying systems that remain uncharted after two years of exploration.

See Details"The Search" - After entering the system, Jem'Hadar ships will be in orbit in thirty seconds. Assuming that entering the system is defined by entering the heliosphere, and also assuming a heliosphere of similar radius to ours (~15 light hours), this gives us a rough estimate of 1800c.

We may derive a similar estimate of warp power from "Blaze of Glory" - cutting the engines with 2 Jem'Hadar warships in pursuit a half AU away would leave them on top of a  runabout in "a second." Taking this as a literal estimate, this suggests somewhere in the neighborhood of 250c for Jem'Hadar warships traveling through the Badlands. Given that the Badlands represent a navigational hazard, these two estimates seem reasonable in light of one another.

"Family Business" - Cestus III, on the other side of the Federation, is two weeks away by subspace radio. "Way of the Warrior" - and eight weeks away at maximum warp [by freighter.]

"For the Cause" - after departure beyond the ability of the Defiant to catch up and track down, Eddington has a real-time conversation with Sisko. Delay is no more than several seconds; for the ship to have actually exited the system, subspace radio needs to be very much faster than a ship. A 50,000c subspace radio signal would travel 100 AU per second; a 1,000,000c subspace radio signal would travel 0.03 light years per second. The run from Bajor to one of its furthest outlying colonies takes freighters twelve hours, normally.

"Soldiers of the Empire" - the B'Moth's distress call is picked up "at least" 7 light years away. Survivors are then rushed to DS9's infirmary. This requires a subspace signal and then a ship to be dispatched in time to pick up critically wounded individuals. Assuming the signal to be a quarter the speed of the ship, and total time from the distress call being sent to getting the survivors to DS9's infirmary to be no more than an hour, this gives a rough speed of 138,000+c.

"Defiant" - shortly after engaging in battle, the Defiant hides in a nebula, uncloaked. Roughly one half hour afterwards, 26 Cardassian warships have scanned 14 cubic light years of space with antiproton beams. If the antiproton beams were lightspeed and not limited in range by interstellar gas, this would requires a speed of no less than ~99 billion c from the Cardassians in order to scan this volume of space. This is unfortunately high.

If the antiproton beams have an unlimited range and the same speed as the ships, this still requires a minimum of 4625c to scan the volume in question. Antiproton beams are not particularly stable, and might not be emitted universally from all angles; if we assumed an antiproton beam to move at the same speed as the ship and only provide effective coverage within the first minute or so, with the ships arranged in an overlapping hexagonal grid, we could estimate a speed of 37,400c. Factoring in stops, larger overlaps, interaction with interstellar gases, timing considerations, and the use of discrete beams rather than omnidirectional waves, a range of 100,000-1,000,000c seems quite reasonable.

"Babel" - Jaheel wants to go "better than warp 1" to get to another system before his cargo spoils.

"Armageddon Game" - the trip back to DS9 from T'Lana III (in a different system) takes less than one hour. This suggests a speed of 10,000+c.

"The Wire" - Bashir plans for a round trip to Arawath to take less than 52 hours.

"Explorers" - a tachyon eddy sends a lightsail vessel light years off course... all the way to Cardassia in moments.

"Family Business" - Cestus III, on the other side of the Federation, is two weeks away by subspace radio. "Way of the Warrior" - and eight weeks away at maximum warp [by freighter.]

"Little Green Men" - the shuttle given to Quark should be able to "outfly a Romulan interceptor" and go "halfway across the galaxy" before needing a maintainence check. The off switch to the warp drive is shut off; the ship would "keep accelerating" until it smeared itself "halfway across the quadrant." The ship makes a trip to Earth and returns before the next episode; a tenth point higher warp factor means shaving a "day or two" off the total trip.

"The Ascent" - Odo picks up a class L planet on long range sensors. Several minutes bring them to it.

"Inferno's Light" - Dax expresses concern about going to warp in-system.

"Soldiers of the Empire" - the B'Moth's distress call is picked up "at least" 7 light years away. Survivors are then rushed to DS9's infirmary. This requires a subspace signal and then a ship to be dispatched in time to pick up critically wounded individuals.

"A Time to Stand" - a warp field contracts normal space, according to Dax.

"Valiant" - Red Squad is sent on a training mission - to circumnavigate the entire Federation. Eight months later, they're running around enemy territory, and can't figure out how to get past warp 3.2. At warp four, they detect a Jem'Hadar battleship at 1.32 light years, going at warp 4.7; they believe themselves to be outside enemy sensor range. Three hours later, after launching a probe, they've gathered quite a bit of information, suggesting the probe was 3857c faster than the battleship. The battleship is referred to as a threat to every Federation outpost and colony within fifty light years.

The ship is stated to be twice the size of a GCS and three times as strong. They approach within three hundred meters to attack, which does not go well. The Defiant then picks up their escape pod's signal at 10 light years.

"The Sound of Her Voice" - the Defiant, returning from escorting a convoy to the Vegan system, turns around and takes a five day detour to the Rutharian sector, where they pick up the lost CO of the Olympia, which left to explore the Beta Quadrant eight years ago and was on their way back home; it's 6 days at normal maximum warp (less than warp 9) for the Defiant from where they were, but three days out, they drain the phaser banks to shave a full day off the trip by jumping to warp 9.5. The Defiant was the closest Federation starship to the distress signal.

"Image in the Sand" - the Defiant has just returned from a convoy mission that lasted at least ten days.

"Once More Unto the Breach" - Birds of Prey are faster than battlecruisers. An inverse graviton burst will force ships out of warp.

"Covenant" - Empok Nor is no more than three light years away from DS9 (Terek Nor).

"The Emperor's New Cloak" - Grand Nagus Zek says he's setting off to open up new territory for business... with a return time of five days.

A blog post looking at runabout speeds.

Frequent travel to and from Earth and DS9 represents anomalously high warp speed..25