I love the Enterprise's design as much as the next Trekkie, and while it looks functional, there have got to be better, more practical designs for a real spaceship.
A US Star Trek fan has launched an online project aimed at building a working replica of the USS Enterprise … in twenty years. “BTE Dan”, as the fan identifies himself at the buildtheenterprise.org site, says he's tired of stagnation in the world's space programs and feels that shooting for an iconic project like building a …
"Doesn't explain how it'' be propelled though."
Easy, slap a couple of VASIMRs on the nacelles! No warp drive, but at least we could get impulse power!
The fun thing on the nuke-powered Enterprise is that the design can actually harbor a nuclear reactor safely. Put it where the "warp core" would usually be; if it threatens to melt down, just do the separation thingy done in Star Trek Generations. Ta-da!
Actually, not. You use inverse-squares. Keep the crew quarters a good long way away from the (unshielded) reactor. With micro-G acceleration, a boom can be very long and very thin. Or you use an unmanned nuclear tugboat and a very long string.
If you meant rad-shielding against solar flares, that's a bigger problem. Although with nuke propulsion, you can probably afford a large cylindrical mass to put between the crew refuge and the sun.
I both agree and don't.
Yes, the design idea is silly from the point of view of trying to build something...
... but as an iconic shape / silhouette, the Enterprise can't be beat!
I'd very much suspect this has been chosen just to get people interested in the idea, not as a practical design choice. Primarily because it'd be practically impossible to actually build in almost any kind of gravity field!
That was the only thing that bummed me out about the latest Star Trek film - the 'Enterprise' was NOT built on the surface of the planet!
Why not? Excuse what sounds like treknobabble, but given the quantum level of control over matter and energy that Star Trek technology depicts, there is no reason why the builders of a star ship would need to be constrained by the issues we would face now. The whole thing could be done in a low/no level gravity environment and large or complete structures can be beamed into orbit for final assembly without all that faffing around with escape velocities and so on. The various creators of the Star Trek technological pantheon essentailly ignore energy requirements unless it is crucial to the story line so we simply accept that anti-matter power generation is well up to the task. We tend to think of the task in 21st century terms when, in context, it isn't so
While I appreciate your point, and in it's own way, it is iconic. However, it's not Earth/human, which I think is an appropriate qualifier.
This is why, for a similar reason, I would also not recommend a Klingon Bird of Prey (for cool factor), Galactica (a practical design with the big hangar decks etc) or the Imperial Star Destroyer (For those who want something different to sphere or cube).
If we can get a sustained 1.1g thrust, there are thousands of things to visit and research in nearby 10 to 20 lightyears. The main problem is, and for long will be, our own little planet's gravity well. Together with thick atmosphere, it prevents the use of all the nice modern propulsion systems - ion, nuclear, plasma, and forces us to rely on old-fashioned, inefficient rockets.
Therefore, any plan to invest in the craft of starfaring should start not with the spaceship, but with orbital, or better yet, moon-based shipyard for one. Moon is an ideal space port from humanity: always at line of sight, six times less gravity, can use Earth gravity assist, has all the mineral resources and ample energy (solar or perhaps nuclear). It even has water ice.
When you say Gravity Assist...
I don't think you can use slingshot off the Earth if you're sharing its orbit round the sun. It could be used to 'convert' your trajectory to some other direction, but probably only with the energy that you've put in with your own engines.
Unlike say Voyager, that approached one planet from the position of another, thus encountering a massive object travelling at huge orbital speed though space and made use of that by stealing a little bit of its momentum. Whereas if you're already sharing that orbital trajectory, cos you've just popped across from the moon, then it probably doesn't give you anything.
...That no one will ever allocate the money. No one has the vision to do such a thing, the unwashed masses would cry bloody murder if the money was taken away from other programs, and more likely it will go to fight some pointless little war or line the pockets of someone that is already rich many times over.
Because when you go to a manager and tell him that the moon has solid gold and platinum under the surface and have ample proof like an actual core sample, they will simply look at the last issues of economic magazines, look at how much money has been earned by space exploration in the past and decide that, since nobody has ever sold any actual moon-gold, it must be utterly worthless. People don't want moon-gold, otherwise they would have bought it...
If you want to excite the military-industrial complex, you need to excite the military part of it. Those are like a bunch of kids you can literally sell non working toys to. And since they negotiate contracts up front and have guaranteed payments, the industry will listen to them.
That's why I too agree that a BSG hull is more practical. I am an huge fan of the 1701, the 1701-A, and the 1701 D, as well as the Voyager hull. In some ways, the Intrepid class:
might be more practical than the 1701 of STTOS.
Not to diss Trek (again, I am a HUGE fan of Trek and still own numerous manuals and internal blueprints I purchased way back as far as 1979/1980), but it is on a tech timeline that is not practical: we have yet to create tractor beams, deflector shields, transporters, force fields, and other devices that are ubiquitous in Trek's era. As for a BSG type of hull, the main crucial aspects would be engineering able to move the mass to a cruising speed suitable for asteroid belt exploration and mining and manufcturing, and an ability to modularly handle large manufacturing activities in a hull more suited to large volumes of material. The 1701 hulls just don't have the volume in a single hull to cope with what ideally would be work tied to a vast ore vein find. The Trek hulls we mostly see are suited for high-speed diplomatic/military/scientific survey runs with lean crew complements due to fielding larger numbers of vessels. Even most of the STTOS cargo, passenger, and mining ships we got to thoroughly enjoy got very painful short shrift in almost any ST episode aired. Probably only the games may have touched on non-combatants since they had more script flexibility to keeps FPS/MMORPG fans addicted.
The BSG hull offers huge hangar bays with launching on the upper bay deck, recovery aft and possibly below for slow-approaching craft, and cross-connect tunnels to move craft athwartships. Also, if the pods were actually made retractable, transfers could be closer and easier. Moreover, such a hull would offer space/volume not for combat ops, but for manufacturing, ore mining, and exploration of mineral/asteroid belts. Probes and recon craft could be launched and recovered from great distances and the vessel would operate as a more useful roving manufacturing facility.
As for money being sucked away from other domestic and global programs, a BSG hull would offer many numerous countries, suppliers, and researchers various posts on ground and aboard ship. The first few could be build at orbital stations around Earth or the Moon or where gravity is not a deleterious hindrance. Further or future builds could be made right out at the suitable asteroid fields.
Also, the sheer amount of hull surface of the BSG type hull offers lots of places to mount astrometrics antennae farms, planar arrays, and various jettisonable escape pods.
The huge engines aft could be module and independently mounted but separately jettisonable in the event one becomes unstable. It might even be possible to tether the hottest portions after the hull has been boosted, and then use thrusters to gently nudge the craft along a new flight path, although the tethered engines would need thrusters, too, to minimize tangling the tethers or detaching them unintentionally.
Trek is iconic, but aside from micrometeroid impacts (yep, we heaven't even talked about deflector shields at this point that I have read) having less hull to penetrate and fewer troubleshooting points to cover when compared to a denser, thicker, larger BSG-type hull, I feel a BSG hull offers a LOT more room to carry the thousands of crew, researchers, construction and mining engineers, medics, and administrative personnel needed to make this a truly human activity fitting/befitting the payroll scale that will be involved for the first 30-80 years of such a human venture.
But, whatever is built, it has the potential to employ so many people that it would make global warfare less tenable and less attractive, possibly sparking a new, achievable period of "peace" -- so long as those on Terra Firma can benefit from the gains such a project can promise.
Why does this concept make me think of that episode of the Simpsons where Homer gets to design his own car... Scary indeed. Design by comittee has pretty much always produced a final product (if it gets that far) that is generally nothing like the original vision, and more of an epic fail of compromise.
Let's put the geeks into space, and see what happens. Preferably in an orbit inside the Kupier Belt...
at an acceleration of 1G would not take nine years.
As I've posted elsewhere in these forums, I worked out what would be involved relativistically in making such a journey, and came up with some fascinating concepts.
First, if you accelerate continuously at 1G (9.8 m/s/s), you will approach c in 354.3 days - 10 days shy of 1 year. Let's call it a year for ease of calculation.
So it will take you a year to get up to c and another year to slow down, meaning that the minimum Earth time for your journey will be at least 2 years.
So a journey to Alpha Centauri would, by our clocks, take about 6 years - 1 year to get up to speed, 4 years to cover the distance, an another year to slow back down at Alpha Centauri. (I know, I'm not factoring in the distance covered during acceleration / deceleration, but let's keep it simple!)
For the crew of the ship, however, the journey would take only slightly more than 2 years - because if they get close enough to c, that 4-year near-light-speed trip will be relativistically time-dilated down to almost nothing. At 0.999999c, 4 years goes by in a few minutes.
This holds true regardless of the objective length of the journey. A trip to Tau Ceti would take around 13 years by our clocks - 1 year speed-up, 11 year travel time, 1 year slow down. But for the crew of the ship, it would still only take 2 years, if you could get the ship close enough to c that that 11 years passes in a few minutes by relativistic time dilation.
The practical upshot of this is that for an interstellar voyage of any length - be it to Alpha Centauri or the far side of the Virgo-Coma Supercluster - the voyage, to the ship's crew, will always be slightly more than two years. Granted, for the latter journey, the Sun will have expanded to a red giant and gutted the Earth by the time they get back; but for them it will still have been only a 4-year cruise.
This is technically achievable with today's technology, with one small problem: accelerating a decently-sized ship at 1G for a whole year (and back down again) is going to suck a whole lot of energy. 1G comes out to about 10J/kg/s, so if we assume a GVM of 10,000 t for the ship, that's 10,000,000 kg x 30612245 s * 10J = 3,061.2 Terajoules of energy, and that's not accounting for the relativity-dilated mass of the ship near the speed of light.
As a comparison, the Earth receives 17,000 Terajoules of energy from the Sun every second, so while the energy requirement for the ship is large, it's not insurmountable. Once we master fusion or even anti-matter-matter reactions, we're on our way to the stars.
Just don't expect anyone you know to still be alive by the time you get back if you take a jaunt to anywhere further than Arcturus!
In terms of the energy expenditure, we'd realistically need a space elevator before we could even consider most of the rest of this stuff.
In terms of far space exploration, energy & mineral resource constraints make it more likely that we'd fire off a tiny tin can containing some sort of solid-state system running a variation of emulated human consciousness (a la Stross' Accelerando), IMO.
Your numbers seemed suspicious at first glance, and they still seem suspicious at second glance as well.
Your calculation neglects the relativistic mass increase (which you then rely on to get the shiptime running slow), so let's sidestep that and look at the pure kinetic energy of your 10,000t spacecraft running at "just" 0.1c, where relativistic effects are small. 0.1c = 3x10^7 m/s. Kinetic energy = 0.5mv^2 = 0.5 x 10^7 x (3x10^7)^2 = 4.5 x 10^21 J = a lot more than the 3x10^15 J you're talking about. And that's without even thinking about how much reaction mass you need.
As far as I can see, the only way we're going to get to the stars is to leave our engines behind, using lightsails or similar technology. Look up "starwisp" for a reasonably modest proposal.
What kinetic energy?
If the spacecraft is running at 0.1c, and switches off it's engines, it'll continue to run at 0.1c.
Relativistic effects only affect people outside you. You'll just be at normal zero gravity, as if you were at rest.
All the guy said was "IF" we could accelerate at 1g continuously. He didn't say how.
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