back to article Trekkie wants to build USS Enterprise … in twenty years

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 site, says he's tired of stagnation in the world's space programs and feels that shooting for an iconic project like building a …


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  1. Peter Hamilton


    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.

    1. LaeMing Bronze badge

      My money is on

      "Discovery" (2001 AS0).


      Actually, rad-shielding is probably the biggest technical challenge for getting soft mushy humans inter-planetary.

      1. Matthew 17

        Re: My money is on

        Rad shielding can be achieved using a magnetic field (it's how the earth does it).

        So if his anti-grav rotation system is magnetically driven it may double up as a shield.

        Doesn't explain how it'' be propelled though.

        1. Daniel B.

          @Matthew 17

          "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!

      2. Nigel 11


        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Honestly...

      absolutely, I saw this a while back and the guys built a ship around the star trek design, amazingly inefficient.

      the resoning and logioc behind his idea is fine, I quite agree, but his warped design priorities will be the ideas undoing.

      1. BenR

        Re: Honestly...

        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!

        1. The Serpent

          Re: Honestly...

          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

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Honestly...

            Well, then, make it so...

        2. NogginTheNog


          Whoa whoa whoa, if there's a best-looking/iconic ship competition then of course the winner HAS to be The Falcon! Fastest ship in the galaxy... ;-)

          1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

            Re: Iconic??

            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).

            1. Fibbles

              Re: Iconic??

              If we're going for an iconic silhouette that is also a practical shape why don't we just build a Deathstar and be done with it?

        3. Gaz Jay

          Re: Honestly...

          "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!"...

          That was the ONLY thing? Not the fact that it pissed over 40 years of other established canon?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Honestly...

      While I love the idea of it, I think he must have fallen on his head as a child.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Honestly...

      I personally vote for a cube shape massive ship.

      I get the feeling it will scare the crap out of some other species we come across in the universe.

    5. Qdos

      Re: Honestly...

      Yes, a Borg Cube... haven't you been paying any attention? :o

    6. I think so I am?

      Re: Honestly...

      If a ship is going to only travel in space, use a most efficient shape i.e. a circle or square would be best

      There is no resistance in space, so resistance is futile!

      1. King Jack
        Thumb Up

        Re: Honestly...

        Circle or square? You need to think in 3d as we are 3d. A sphere or a cube.

        +1 for the resistance is futile, classic.

    7. Bill Neal

      Re: Honestly...

      more practical design: the earth warships from Babylon5 had a very simple solution for artificial gravity, counter rotating hull sections. always seems the most practical to me

  2. Anonymous Coward

    old news

    This was posted on 'Universe Today' over 2 weeks ago. -1 for old news and another -1 for lack of attribution

    1. Captain TickTock

      Re: old news

      but his website got swamped then. seems to have get more hosting quota since

  3. Denarius Silver badge

    not to mention

    Ion drives are so old hat. Plasma drives have better thrust. One design AFAIRC does not even wear out quickly. Better yet, use the Russian Candle design !!

  4. Esskay


    Cue 20 years of balding men sitting in a room arguing about how big the writing is supposed to be on the side of the craft, whether it changed in Star Trek:TNG, what sort of font it's supposed to be, etc.

    1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm...

      "...what sort of font it's supposed to be, etc."

      It's Microgramma Bold Extended.

      (Trek geek AND font geek. I believe that I still have my original Franz Josef Trek Tech Manual with the type specs around somewhere.)

  5. John Savard Silver badge


    Making a spaceship look like the fictional Enterprise isn't important enough for the amount of money that would need to be raised.

    What counts is something that it is not practical to raise money for yet: first, a way to travel faster than light has to be invented.

  6. ~mico

    Faster then light is overrated

    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.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      " our own little planet's gravity well"

      Space Elevator.

      That is all.

      1. Bill Fresher

        Re: Space Elevator

        Maybe if we made a transporter before we made the Enterprise...

        1. Blitterbug

          Re: Space Elevator

          Indeed. The Fountains od Paradise = essential reading.

        2. Tony Martin

          Re: Space Elevator

          Then we'd be still waiting after 2000 years!

    2. Richard Ball

      Re: Faster then light is overrated

      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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Faster then light is overrated

      "...Faster then light is overrated..."

      So is using "then", when you mean "than"

      (fer feck's sake!)

      1. ~mico

        Re: then vs than

        Sorry, officer, English is not my mother language tongue. Also, I couldn't seem to find an "edit" button anywhere after I noticed it.

  7. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    The main problem is...

    ...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.

    1. LaeMing Bronze badge

      The trick would be... somehow convince the industrial-military complex that space is a bigger cash-cow than selling weapons too ludicrously powerful to seriously consider using. They did manage exactly that for a while in the 70's I believe, but lost inertia.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Cash is unimportant

        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.

        1. Ian 55

          Re: Cash is unimportant

          "I had a guaranteed military sale with ED 209. Renovation program. Spare parts for 25 years. Who cares if it worked or not?"

      2. auburnman

        Re: What I really don't want to imagine

        is the inevitable (accelerated) arms race among the military powers that be if transport to the moon or the asteroid belt or similar became good/cheap/reliable enough to make Empire expansion viable again.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: What I really don't want to imagine

          History would repeat. the colonists would want their independance. Classic SF: "The Moon is a harsh mistress" (Heinlein) and "A Fall of Moondust" (A C Clarke).

          Earth would lose. We're at the bottom of the gravity well, they're at the top.

    2. Jess

      Re: The main problem is...

      The Chinese might.

    3. dssf

      Re: The main problem is...

      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.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ok, so it's ST not SW but...

    The virginity is strong in this one.

  9. jake Silver badge

    One word:


  10. Mikey

    Open-Source Space Program?

    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...

    1. GumboKing
      Thumb Up

      Re: Open-Source Space Program?

      Yes, it surely needs 'Rack and Peanut' steering!

  11. Steven Roper

    A journey to Alpha Centauri

    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!

    1. Captain Underpants

      Re: A journey to Alpha Centauri

      @Steven Roper:

      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.

    2. SeanEllis

      Re: A journey to Alpha Centauri

      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.

      1. Martin

        Re: A journey to Alpha Centauri

        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.

        1. Chemist

          Re: A journey to Alpha Centauri

          "What kinetic energy?"

          The kinetic energy of the mass at 0.1C + the relativistic extra kinetic energy due to the increase of the mass at 0.1C.

          It's an absolutely enormous amount of energy - it's about 1E18 J to get a tonne to 0.1C


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