Driving down Route 28 in Sterling, 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 a small side street off of Route 28 before it was widened into a limited access highway. In 2011, the aerospace company Orbital Sciences Corporation (now Northrop Grumman), located on Steeplechase Drive, successfully petitioned Loudoun County to change the name of Steeplechase Drive to the can’t-believe-no-one-had-thought-of-this name, Warp Drive. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the request.
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. 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 now Northrop Grumman campus, each one reminding drivers that it’s a Trekkie’s world, we’re all just living in it.