The NX-Beta on the flight to break the warp 2 barrier

The warp 2 barrier was a warp barrier.

Warp factor 2, or eight times the speed of light, was the theoretical maximum warp speed in the early stages of Vulcan and Earth warp technologies. After the invention of warp drive by the Vulcans, it took them a hundred years to design an engine capable of breaking the warp 2 barrier. (ENT: "First Flight")

The relative speed of eight times the speed of light was established in a warp chart seen in "First Flight". According to Quark in DS9: "Little Green Men", the Vulcan invention of warp drive occurred some time after 1947. It occurred some time before 1957, based on the events in ENT: "Carbon Creek".

In the 22nd century, such Earth ships as the ECS Horizon, an Earth Cargo Authority operated J-class freighter commissioned in 2102, and Starfleet operated Neptune-class survey ships were among the early ship classes with warp capability limited in technology by this barrier. (ENT: "Horizon", "Singularity")

It was not until the 2140s that the warp five engine conceived at the Warp Five Complex by Henry Archer broke the warp 2 barrier. In 2143, Commanders A.G. Robinson and Jonathan Archer demonstrated this advanced warp engine in the second NX-class prototype, the NX-Beta, by holding the ship steady at warp 2.5. (ENT: "First Flight")

According to ENT: "Future Tense", it had been rumored that the one-man vessel Zefram Cochrane was piloting, when he disappeared in 2119, was a test flight of some kind of experimental warp ship. In the apocryphal novel Federation, Cochrane's ship is described as a personal yacht called the Bonaventure II, capable of warp 4. These accounts suggest he may have broken the barrier before the NX prototypes did.

After the warp 2 barrier was broken, it became possible to upgrade older starships, such as the Y-class freighters, with a warp three engine. (ENT: "Fortunate Son") Freighters used by the Federation still remained limited to the speed of warp 2, even as late as the 2260s. (TOS: "Friday's Child") In the 2360s, subspace resonators used by Starfleet could be modified to function as warp cores, though ships using them were limited to warp 2. (TNG: "The Next Phase")

See also

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