The quantum slipstream drive was an advanced form of interstellar propulsion allowing starships to break through the warp speed barrier. The crew of the USS Voyager acquired the technology in 2374 from Species 116 in the Delta Quadrant. A later test of the drive in 2375 nearly led to the destruction of Voyager, and it was decided to put the use of the device on hold.
Generating slipstream corridors requires more processing power than forming warp fields; the computational power required is directly related to the frontal geometry of a vessel and lesser to the ship geometry. Therefore, slipstream propelled ships are generally narrow and compact with aerodynamic lines. However, they are also more energy-efficient than warp drive.
By 2381, following the defeat of the Borg, Starfleet began installing quantum slipstream drives on its vessels, but due to the nature of the technology not all ships were compatible with the upgrade.
Later that year, a small contingent of Starfleet vessels, including Voyager, was outfitted with the drives in order to explore the Delta Quadrant in greater detail, and to learn any information available about the Borg.
Unknown to Starfleet, at the same time, B'Elanna Torres had managed to recreate the technology from memory and outfitted a small vessel with the drive, to evade a fanatical Klingon sect pursuing her daughter.
Again later that year, starships in Project Full Circle experienced microfractures in their benamite crystals. Voyager's Chief Engineer Nancy Conlon deduced that within three months all the starships in the Delta Quadrant would have to return home if the problem was not solved.
Security Chief Harry Kim took Nancy Conlon to B'Elanna Torres's personal shuttle, modified with B'Elanna's own version of a quantum slipstream drive and a benamite recrystallization matrix. A conversation between the current and former chief engineers of Voyager resulted in B'Elanna Torres agreeing to adapt her design for use on all of the ships assigned to Project Full Circle.
In 2382, the Breen accepted a mission on behalf of the Typhon Pact and sent an operative to Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards to capture data pertaining to the quantum slipstream drive. The Breen were soon after contracted to build the first Typhon Pact prototype slipstream vessel. The lead researcher of the project, Thot Keer, intentionally withheld information from the other members relating to the drive's development in order to promote the Breen to a level of Pact authority of equal standing to the Romulans. Shortly before the initial trials, however, the prototype, its designer, and all information relating to the project were destroyed.
In 2383, various members of the Pact, led by Sela, attempted to travel to the Gamma Quadrant to obtain Jem'Hadar technology to perfect the drive. They believed that Jem'Hadar ships possessed the right structure to cope with the stresses of slipstream. The attempt resulted in the destruction of Deep Space 9, the bombs were planted to cause a diversion while they used the Bajoran wormhole caused more damage than was intended.
Further attempts to develop the drive came to an end when the Romulan Praetor officially denounced the Pact's attempt to build a drive, noting that attempts to do so have caused more problems with the Federation than the original existence of the drive, ending their attempts for the time being.
It took Starfleet scientists many years to perfect the usage of the slipstream technology, finally making a solid breakthrough in 2384. That year, the USS Intrepid-A was refitted with a quantum slipstream drive and completed a successful test with it.
By 2409, slipstream drive was standard aboard any vessel that was captained by high-ranking officers in the Federation Starfleet, Klingon Defense Force, and Romulan Republic. These drives could only operate for a short period at a time before shutting down for safety reasons, though in those precious seconds, the starship could cross an entire sector of space. After what was presumably a short period of recharging and re-calibration, they could be activated again for another "sprint".
The Federation Starfleet Odyssey-class, Vesta-class, Hephaestus-class, Phoenix-class, Luna-class, and Chimera-class vessels, Klingon Defense Force Bortas-class and Peghqu'-class vessels, and Romulan Republic Daeinos-class warbirds were equipped with a more advanced version of the same technology, capable of sustaining the slipstream corridor for twice as long, and with a greater degree of maneuverability. Interestingly, a Risian luxury cruiser has been outfitted with a set of special solar sails that allow it to act in the same way as the aforementioned vessels.