Why? Because the HMB Inconceivable is going to toss a warp drive on overload into a star and see what happens! (Thank you, Tumblr!)
RCW 38 is 5500 light years from our sun. Even at TNG 9.9, it would take over 1.8 years, according to the Warp Drive calculator. (Interestingly, it will not calculate Warp 10 in TNG. My husband, Rob, seemed to recall them saying that Warp 10 was impossible because it would put the ship everywhere at once. Of course, that’s not impossible, just highly improbable, which requires a different kind of drive…and a safer landing spot for the whale.)
Going to Orion’s belt takes .44 years at TNG Warp 9.9. But wait – didn’t Kirk & Co. deal with Orions? It’s a stretch of the imagination, considering it’s a 20-year trip from Sol to Orion’s Belt at Warp 4, 1.3 years at Warp 10, which the Old Enterprise was allowed to go.
“Are we there yet?”
Remember, they changed the Warp calculations between TOS and TNG. Kind of like going to metric, I’d expect. I can just imagine the arguments at Starfleet. It was headquartered in the United States, after all.
“Look, we’ve advanced warp technology so much, we’ve altered the way we warp space.”
“Okay, sure, but I don’t see why we can’t just use the old measurement system. We already know how to calculate distances with it, and all the software and textbooks will need to be changed and… It’s just easier?”
“Really? It’s easier to say, ‘Ensign, Warp 6.375? Because that’s the new Warp 4.”
“Why’d you make it so weird?”
“It’s not weird. Look Warp speed is v=w3c in the old scale. Now it’s v=w10/3c.”
“A fraction for an exponent? Why would you do that?”
“It’s how the math works! It’s logical.”
“Oh! The Vulcans are putting you up to this.”
At any rate, it does not matter which warp system you use, there’s no way you’re hopping between Earth and Orion’s belt in any reasonable time on a five-year mission. Unless those episodes really are the extent of the crew’s excitement, and the rest of the time is just spent driving.
“Are we there yet?”
ADDENDUM: After this interesting research, it turned out that the Inconceivable needed a dying star, so we’re going to the imaginary Pack Nebula instead.