The US Department of Defense funded a series of studies on advanced aerospace technologies, including warp drives.
The studies came out of a program that also funded research into UFO sightings.
One report describes the possibility of using dark energy to warp space and effectively travel faster than light.
However, a theoretical physicist says there's "zero chance that anyone within our lifetimes or the next 1,000 years" will see it happen.
Sometime after August 2008, the US Department of Defense contracted dozens of researchers to look into some very, very out-there aerospace technologies, including never-before-seen methods of propulsion, lift, and stealth.
Two researchers came back with a 34-page report for the propulsion category, titled "Warp Drive, Dark Energy, and the Manipulation of Extra Dimensions."
The document is dated April 2, 2010, though it was only recently released by the Defense Intelligence Agency. (Business Insider first learned about in a post by Paul Szoldra at Task & Purpose.)
The authors suggest we may not be too far away from cracking the mysteries of higher, unseen dimensions and negative or "dark energy," a repulsive force that physicists believe is pushing the universe apart at ever-faster speeds.
"Control of this higher dimensional space may bе а source of technological control оvеr the dark energy density and could ultimately play а role in the development of exotic propulsion technologies; specifically, а warp drive," the report says, adding: "Trips to the planets within our own solar system would take hours rather than years, and journeys to local star system would be measured in weeks rather than hundreds of thousands of years."
However, Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech who studies and follows the topics covered by the report, had a lot of cold water to pour on the report's optimism.
"It's bits and pieces of theoretical physics dressed up as if it has something to do with potentially real-world applications, which it doesn't," Carroll said. "This is not crackpot. This is not the Maharishi saying we're going to use spirit energy to fly off the ground — this is real physics. But this is not something that's going to connect with engineering anytime soon, probably anytime ever."
James Т. Lacatski, a DIA official listed as a contact on the report, did not immediately to respond a query from Business Insider.
Where the warp-drive study came from
The nature of this study is still making its way to the public.
What is known is that it's an "acquisition threat support" reference document, which helps the US military anticipate or describe new enemy technologies — apparently including (very, very) notional ones. It was also one work in "а series of advanced technology reports" for something called the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program.