I share your understanding of the stars being so far apart that you won't hit one by accident. By "past other stars" I was trying to draw a distinction. I meant going out to interstellar distances, not merely outside our solar system, which can be done (it took real-life Voyager 1 thirty-six years at 17 kilometers per second). To get to a galactic boundary area, at least 500 light years from Earth, you have to go FTL somehow-- which we also agree on. We just disagree on what to massage in the WNM dialog. I take Kirk's "impulse" reference not to mean that the Valiant had impulse only. He was somehow speaking in shorthand and left a misleading impression to us laymen.