27 thoughts on “Building The Star Ship Enterprise”

  1. Ambition….. a necessary but not sufficient requirement for success.

    I also happen to think a touch of nuttiness is helpful: if faster than light travel is ever achieved, it most likely won’t be done by someone who thinks it’s totally and utterly impossible.

    1. if faster than light travel is ever achieved, it most likely won’t be done by someone who thinks it’s totally and utterly impossible.

      I don’t know. Most people who get pulled over for speeding insist it was totally and utterly impossible.

      1. Follow Ken’s link… he has a graphic in a post, depicting a more feasible (with substantially lower launch mass requirements) Enterprise design, one that probably is actually attainable by NASA within two decades.

        I would hazard a guess that this (the design in Ken’s graphic) could even be done inside of a decade, if they funded it adequately, say maybe 1 billion a year (or maybe slightly more, if they go for a better grade of aluminum for the engine nacelles… there are concerns that the currently proposed composition might have issues due to long-term exposure in a high radiation environment). The Enterprise project Rand links to comes in at 85 million killograms, but the one Ken features is a more feasible 9 million milligrams.

        I think this project could get backing from the white house, so it’s politically feasible. (I hear Obama likes unusual hors d’oeuvres)

        1. The Enterprise project Rand links to comes in at 85 million killograms, but the one Ken features is a more feasible 9 million milligrams.

          Hey, no fair using mass dampeners or inertial compensators!

  2. Right. I love his FAQ. I wonder how frequently do these questions get asked. Especially the last one “Q: Live long and proper

  3. Cool idea, but right from the get go, he gets the size wrong. LOL Trek nerd alert!

    I didn’t read very much, so I stand to be corrected, but the original ver1 Enterprise is supposed to be about 1,000 feet long. His graphic shows the 1701A refit, but the size he refers to is for the new Abrams/Trek movie (2009) version.


    1. CarsonH,
      didja look that up, ORRRRRR, didja just know it by heart?

      (WHAT?! he said he was a Trek Nerd…I’m looking for his credentials…I was going to have to look it up…I’m just kinda nerdy…that, and TOS RULES!!!)

    1. That should be plenty if it’s continuous. No battle maneuvers however. The problem is xenon is a bad choice of reaction mass because it’s rare and expensive and you’d need too much of it. Hydrogen is also a bad choice for different/two other reasons.

      I’m thinking nitrogen ion thrusters would be a better choice (I’m looking for an actual real world example.

  4. He’s put a lot of thought in to this. The ship is so large because of a rotating gravity section inside of the saucer. And if you read carefully, he KNOWS it’s not going to look like the Enterprise in the movies. He’s just using the basic configuration and name to spur excitement…get people on board with his idea.

    Frank, the laser is for boring a hole in the ice of Europa so a probe can get to the ocean beneath.

    I like his ideas…but he isn’t factoring in the huge government bureaucracy that would kill this idea before it got off of the ground, even if there were money for the durned thing.

  5. Even ignoring the size, the Enterprise ‘design’ clearly has the engines off the center of gravity. Such a ship is going to sit and spin. Far more practical and realistic would be something like Babylon 5’s Agamemnon or 2010’s Alexei Leonov. Hell, I’d be really happy with the more recent Nautilus-X design from NASA.

    1. It doesn’t spin as long as the thrust goes through the center of gravity which doesn’t have to be any part of the ship. It would require vectored thrust which usually is part of any rocket design.

  6. 1. Move engine nacelles downward to that they are alongside the lower hull.

    2. Eliminate “swan’s-neck” connector.

    3. Flip saucer section ninety degrees so that its top surface and upper dome become the bow of the ship.

    4. Move saucer to front of secondary hull and position it so that it is coaxial with that hull. Connect with simple cylindrical neck.

    5. Move main deflector to position coaxial with saucer and secondary hull.

    6. PROFIT!

    1. Once a ship has any significant level of thrust, especially long term, having the rotating section’s axis perpendicular to the thrust vector causes the perceived gravity to pick up a sine wave component, plus a side-to-side wobble (as the crew moves through the port and starboard positions where the engine’s acceleration is applied sideways to them).

      So even though the ship is undergoing a small and constant acceleration through the void of space, the ride would feel like a boat on the ocean. Pencils would roll back and forth across a desk, beams would creak, tree branches would slowly sway up and down, drunks would fall over. The crew would talk about getting their “sea legs”.

      Coaxial spin would smooth the ride.

      1. Wobble was my thought as well so I say keep the 3 cylinders and lose the saucer. You don’t need it for artificial gravity and if you choose the right nuke you don’t have to worry about being bunk mates. The only reason Star Trek disks are the wrong orientation is because they hardly ever get it right in SF.

        Also, the amount of xenon he’s planning to use isn’t reasonable.

        1. I think there are a few small design problems with using a LFTR in zero-G, though I’d still favor it for power density, efficiency, and safety.

          Conventional LFTR designs rely on gravity to drain the reactor vessel in an emergency (to stop the chain reaction), but this wouldn’t work in zero-G. Conventional LFTR’s also have empty (non-fluid) space which allows for volumetric expansion and outgassing, preventing pressure surges.

          I think this can be worked around by splitting a cylindrical reactor vessel into wedge segments that can move closer or farther apart (controlling the reaction rate) and having each wedge’s position partly controlled by a coiled supply and return line, circulating the liquid fluoride through the coils and then to a heat exchanger. The coils would also act like the bourdon tubes used in pressure gages, slightly uncoiling in response to pressure. Since they are directly welded to a wedge of the core, a pressure rise could cause that wedge to retract away from the other wedges, slowing the reaction rate in response to pressure increases. If the tubes doubled as bimetalic strips you could have both temperature and pressure regulating the reaction rate, and do so even if any electronic control system has crashed. (You could even mount the center end of the coils on a large shaft which extends outside the reactor room, where a large gear and a crank could control the default distance between wedges, with perhaps a large spring serving as the emergency shutdown.)

          But that still doesn’t solve the problem of reactor poisoning as xenon gas builds up in the fluid. On Earth the xenon boils out and is extracted from the top of the vessel. In zero-G the xenon wouldn’t have a tendency to go anywhere. However, as part of the coolant loop, you could run the reactor fluid through a cyclone section, where it enters and spins at high speed, with the xenon boiling out into the center of the vortex for extraction. Or you could just leave the xenon in the fluid and take the poisoning into account during operations.

          If you put the reactor vessel in the 1 G section of the ship, you could go with any conventional reactor layout.

    1. I’d want a layer of “old school” “dumb” control systems between any AI and the ship’s controls. An easy override to cut the AI out in case it goes insane. Maybe some sanity checks to raise alarms at suspicious instructions.

      1. I want all software to be dumb. Smart software means someone else made a decision for you that you may not like. About the only smart software I like is when a list of options are listed after dot notation.

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