Warp Drive – Sterling, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

Warp Drive

This pun was simply waiting to come to life, and one defense contractor made it so. 


Driving down Route 28 in Dulles, Virginia, those with their sensors on full might notice a road sign that promises to catapult them to warp speed, but really it is just a clever attempt by an aerospace company to get people to like them. 

Once upon a time, the short stretch of road known as Steeplechase Drive was just another offramp street in an industrial part of town. Then the headquarters of the Orbital Sciences Corporation moved in. A Virginia-based company, Orbital specialized in manufacturing rockets for uses ranging from civilian to military. Unsurprisingly, Orbital was also apparently staffed by space geeks with a love for Star Trek. This became clear when the company lobbied the city to change the name of Steeplechase Drive to the can’t-believe-no-one-had-thought-of-this name, Warp Drive.

While it may not come as a shock that the company nerds requested the new science fiction moniker, what is surprising is that the county was cool with it. A number of the county supervisors turned out to be Trekkies themselves, approving the name change with a vote that was sprinkled with dorky quotes from the show. There were some buzzkills who wanted to point out that “warp” can have other meanings, although they did not elaborate. These naysayers were voted down, and Orbital was able to change the name, provided they pay some $500 for a new road sign. A small price to pay for greatness. 

Today, signs for Warp Drive can be seen surrounding the Orbital campus, each one reminding drivers that it’s a Trekkie’s world, we’re all just living in it.