Sovereign Class Warp Propulsion
General Electric Class 8 M/ARA
Designed specifically for the Sovereign-class starship, the General Electric Class 8 M/ARA drive and power system was a first for Starfleet. Compared to other starships of similar size and mass, the Class 8 would at first appear to be quite over-powered for the Sovereign, but this is not so. Originally equipped with a more standard Class 6, the inability of the reactor to produce sufficient power was perhaps the primary reason for the initial failing of the prototype Sovereign during trail runs. High-power devices, such as the enhanced deflector system, sensor pallets, Type-XII phaser arrays and Regenerative Shielding were subsequently removed from the U.S.S. Monarchy's construction plans and replaced with less power-intensive units. In comparison, however, the U.S.S. Ark Royal (later Enterprise-E) never left spacedock without the Class 8 power plant.
A breakthrough design came about with the advent of the Class 7 warp reactor during the Defiant Class Project, which makes use of four-lobed magnetic constriction segment columns that allow for additional reactant streams to surround the primary stream that travels down the center of the magnetic constrictor columns. Advances in pressure vessel construction and compact reactor injector nozzles made the Class 8 reactor a reality, with a six-lobed design that allowed for a total of seven reactant streams of both matter and antimatter to collide in the dilithium articulation chamber, resulting in the most powerful starship-grade reactor output to date. The matter/antimatter reactor assembly spans 14 decks with the dilithium chamber and plasma transfer conduits located on the second level of Main Engineering.
Another large advancement utilized in the development of the warp propulsion system was the utilization of a rotatable dilithium articulation chamber within the warp core, where the matter and antimatter reactants are combined to create the high-energy warp plasma needed to power the engine nacelles, as well as shipboard systems through the use of EPS power taps. Computer-controlled rotation of the frame allows for manipulation of the manner in which the reactants meet, allowing for further control of the warp plasma into a "cleaner" power source. Redesigned verterium cortenide components within each pair of warp field coils is then able to use the warp plasma to generate a more energy-efficient subspace field with less particle waste products and stresses that were found in older propulsion systems to damage subspace. After the fleet-wide installation of this new variable warp geometry system, Starfleet was able to remove the so-called "Warp Speed Limit" of Warp 5, established in 2370 after the discovery of pollution by Dr. Serova in the Hekaras Corridor. Pursuant to Starfleet Command Directive 12856.A, all starships traveling within Federation space are required to receive engine upgrades that prevent the further pollution of subspace by 2380.
The successful testing of the new warp propulsion system on the re-launched U.S.S. Sovereign has allowed for these upgrades to be made to her sister ships, allowing for the class to finally meet its full potential in 2373. Unfortunately, due to the intense power requirements of the enhanced sensor and navigation deflector systems, the Sovereign is unable to reach a higher maximum 12-hour speed than Warp 9.7.
Normal Cruising Speed: Warp 7
Maximum Cruising Speed: Warp 9.7 for 12 hours
General Electric Class 8 Standard Matter/Anti-Matter Reaction Drive, developed by General Electric Propulsion Laboratories. Information on this Warp Drive can be found in any Starfleet Library or Omnipedia.