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Created by Doctor Ja'Dar, the soliton wave system offered the promise of a unique new technology for the Federation - warp speed travel without warp drive. The system involved a set of field generators located on or near a planet which would generate a self-sustaining subspace field wave. This would push a vessel into warp speed, carrying it in a straight line at constant speed. At the other end of the journey another group of field generators would disperse the wave, causing the vessel to drop back out of warp.
The benefits of the system would have been enormous. The drive can only be used between star systems where there is already a set of field generators in place, and so would not have replaced warp drive equipped ships in their exploratory roles. However, all traffic between already settled systems could have been accomplished via vessels with no warp drive, vessels which would therefore have been far easier to construct and maintain. In addition, the soliton system is 450% more efficient than a normal starship warp drive, offering considerable energy savings.
Unfortunately, the first test of the soliton wave was only partially successful. After some time at warp speeds the unmanned test vehicle was destroyed by shear forces. The wave began to accelerate and grow in size and power, to the extent that it would destroy most of the planet when it arrived at its destination. Fortunately the Enterprise-D, which was monitoring the test, was able to to disperse the wave using a photon torpedo salvo. The Federation was continuing research into this system, but as of yet there is no reported success.1