Engineer thinks we could build a real starship enterprise in 20 years

May 14, 2012 By Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today
Diagram of a proposed current generation of a Starship Enterprise. Credit: BuildTheEnterprise.org

In Star Trek lore, the first Starship Enterprise will be built by the year 2245. But today, an engineer has proposed — and outlined in meticulous detail – building a full-sized, ion-powered version of the Enterprise complete with 1G of gravity on board, and says it could be done with current technology, within 20 years. “We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let’s do it,” writes the curator of the Build The Enterprise website, who goes by the name of BTE Dan.

This “Gen1” Enterprise could get to Mars in ninety days, to the Moon in three, and “could hop from planet to planet dropping off robotic probes of all sorts en masse – rovers, special-built planes, and satellites.”

Complete with conceptual designs, ship specs, a funding schedule, and almost every other imaginable detail, the BTE website was launched just this week and covers almost every aspect of how the project could be done. This Enterprise would be built entirely in space, have a rotating gravity section inside of the saucer, and be similar in size with the same look as the USS Enterprise that we know from .

“It ends up that this ship configuration is quite functional,” writes BTE Dan, even though his design moves a few parts around for better performance with today’s technology. This version of the Enterprise would be three things in one: a spaceship, a space station, and a spaceport. A thousand people can be on board at once – either as crew members or as adventurous visitors.

Size comparisons of buildings to the proposed USS Enterprise. Credit: BuildTheEnterprise.org

While the ship will not travel at warp speed, with an ion propulsion engine powered by a 1.5GW nuclear reactor, it can travel at a constant acceleration so that the ship can easily get to key points of interest in our solar system. Three additional nuclear reactors would create all of the electricity needed for operation of the ship.

The saucer section would be a .3 mile (536 meter) diameter rotating, magnetically-suspended gravity wheel that would create 1G of gravity.

The first assignments for the Enterprise would have the ship serving as a space station and space port, but then go on to missions to the Moon, Mars, Venus, various asteroids and even Europa, where the ships’ laser would be used not for combat but for cutting through the moon’s icy crust to enable a probe to descend to the ocean below.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Of course, like all space ships today, the big “if” for such an ambitious effort would be getting Congress to provide NASA the funding to do a huge 20-year project. But BTE Dan has that all worked out, and between tax increases and spreading out budget cuts to areas like defense, health and human services, housing and urban development, education and energy, the cuts to areas of discretionary spending are not large, and the tax increases could be small. “These changes to spending and taxes will not sink the republic,” says the website. “In fact, these will barely be noticed. It’s amazing that a program as fantastic as the building a fleet of USS Enterprise spaceships can be done with so little impact.”

“The only obstacles to us doing it are the limitations we place on our collective imagination,” BTE Dan adds, and his proposal says that NASA will still receive funding for the science, astronomy and robotic missions it currently undertakes.

But he proposes not just one Enterprise-class ship, but multiple ships, one of which can be built every 33 years – once per generation – giving three new ships per century. “Each will be more advanced than the prior one. Older ships can be continually upgraded over several generations until they are eventually decommissioned.”

A detailed schedule of building the Enterprise. Credit: BuildTheEnterprise.org

BTE Dan, who did not respond to emails, lists himself as a systems and electrical engineer who has worked at a Fortune 500 company for the past 30 years.

The website includes a blog, a forum and a Q&A section, where BTE Dan answers the question, “What if someone can prove that building the Gen1 Enterprise is beyond our technological reach?”

Answer: “If someone can convince me that it is not technically possible (ignoring political and funding issues), then I will state on the BuildTheEnterprise site that I have been found to be wrong. In that case, building the first Enterprise will have to wait for, say, another half century. But I don’t think that anyone will be able to convince me it can’t be done. My position is that we can – and should – immediately start working on it.”

For the complete space nerd experience, check out Build The Enterprise.

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Eric_B
3.1 / 5 (28) May 14, 2012
Well, we should be building a maglev rail launcher up the side of a mountain but we aren't doing that either.

We are too busy calling B.O. a "muslim socialist" and "Israelis are nazis" to get anything done.

American exceptionalism is on the brink of extinction.
Xbw
2.8 / 5 (17) May 14, 2012
Wow, that must have been a challenge to twist that article around for your narrow political opinions Eric B.

Anyhow, the geek in me thinks this is the coolest idea since.....anything but the realist in me knows there is much more to this than appears on paper. For example, how to handle micrometeorites.
that_guy
5 / 5 (13) May 14, 2012
I don't think he expects this to actually happen. But it's definitely a neat idea.

I think with spaceX/bigelow, we will have more practical, cheaper options available to tackle the tasks that this ship would do.

200-300 heavy launches would put this thing up in the 50-100 billion range, even using optimistic projections on the spacex Falcon heavy.

project that with the space shuttle launch costs, and you can start talking about price with a T.

Lastly, why would you put warp nacelles on a ship that is incapable of warp?
powerup1
4.2 / 5 (15) May 14, 2012
200-300 heavy launches would put this thing up in the 50-100 billion range, even using optimistic projections on the spacex Falcon heavy.


If you could get must of the material for building this from asteroid mining you would not need to launch everything from earth.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (13) May 14, 2012
Wow, that must have been a challenge to twist that article around for your narrow political opinions Eric B.

Anyhow, the geek in me thinks this is the coolest idea since.....anything but the realist in me knows there is much more to this than appears on paper. For example, how to handle micrometeorites.
As this would not be traveling at relativistic speeds the problem of impactors would be the same as with any currently envisioned interplanetary transport. Right ritchie?
that_guy
4.9 / 5 (9) May 14, 2012
200-300 heavy launches would put this thing up in the 50-100 billion range, even using optimistic projections on the spacex Falcon heavy.


If you could get must of the material for building this from asteroid mining you would not need to launch everything from earth.


Yes, and if you used inflatable habitats and different design, you could use less energy, do it cheaper, or house more people. But if we continually improved upon this design before actually building it, it wouldn't look like the enterprise anymore.
sstritt
3.9 / 5 (11) May 14, 2012
Doesn't this remind anyone of "Galaxy Quest"?
Burnerjack
3 / 5 (12) May 14, 2012
Great idea! Let's suspend Medicare/Medicaid, Obamacare, Military expenditures, civil infrastructure expenditures, education expenditures all manner of social "safety net" funding and do this!! And where will we go under impulse power? Slow to get going but after a looooong time it could be moving at quite a clip. of course that whole "collision avoidance" thing at very high speeds must entail something other that course correction. I guess that's what the purpose of the 100MW lazer is for? How much would this cost(including all the upfront feasabilty studies please)? More than ZERO is too much for someone with "Gene Roddenberry Syndrome, IMNSHO). This just an amazing departure from common sense, fiscally responsibility,not to mention a complete failure of intelligent prioritization. Calling this laughable is just too kind (again, IMNSHO).
Burnerjack
3.7 / 5 (7) May 14, 2012
I've got a MUCH better Idea... give the much beleaguered middle class a tax rebate. After all, logic would dictate that if there is funding for this, all the important funding objectives have been met and there is money to spare, right?
sstritt
3.8 / 5 (10) May 14, 2012
logic would dictate

Spock?
Burnerjack
2.6 / 5 (5) May 14, 2012
Fascinating, sstritt, fascinating. Oh, and "live long and, uh, spare change Mr. Sulu?...."
Tomba
5 / 5 (2) May 14, 2012
Old style states will never manage anything this daring and non-war-like. Crowd source it!
PhotonX
4 / 5 (4) May 14, 2012
But can the Deflector Shield do tachyon bursts?
freethinking
1.9 / 5 (25) May 14, 2012
Bunerjack, this is a dream. As long as this dream isn't paid for by taxpayer money, let the dream live. It may inspire someone to go into engineering or the science field.

Will they build it. I don't think so, not in my life time. Given the way Obama is spending and wrecking the economy, the USA won't be able to afford anything. Given the way progressives have and are destroying the educational system, soon no one will be able to do the math or engineering. (But students will know how to put on condoms, sing praises to Obama, blame rich (actually any) white males for everything, etc.) --- :)
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.4 / 5 (10) May 14, 2012
Yes, and if you used inflatable habitats and different design, you could use less energy, do it cheaper, or house more people. But if we continually improved upon this design before actually building it, it wouldn't look like the enterprise anymore.
Right and so why wouldnt you engineer it properly from the start rather than try to jury rig something just because it was on a tv show? For instance the gravity rings I have seen rotated around the thrust axis. How would this deal with differential gravities on the 'up' vs the 'down' sides of the wheel?

The link doesnt work for me. I wonder if this isnt some sort of joke?
Burnerjack
3 / 5 (4) May 14, 2012
@Freethinking: Good point. Dreams are good. But why not dream of curing cancer, viable fussion power, or even how to ensure all the peoples of the Earth can be kept fed in a clean and safe world? Dreams are good. Dreams that would benefit Mankind are better still.
Burnerjack
3.7 / 5 (3) May 14, 2012
@sstritt: "May the schwartz be with you."
Russkiycremepuff
1.4 / 5 (13) May 14, 2012
My government will gladly help with starship costs if Americans and NATO abandon plan to build missile silos in Eastern Europe countries. If it is not stopped, there could be repercussion that I do not even wish to think about.
malapropism
5 / 5 (5) May 14, 2012
But a 1.5GW nuclear reactor? I'm really disappointed that it isn't 1.21GW...
Burnerjack
2.5 / 5 (4) May 14, 2012
Russkiycremepuff: Do you mean the interceptor missles that would protect the region(that you also reside in) from offensive missles fired from rogue states? If you are, maybe you could help pay for THOSE, after all, they would bebefit you as well?
typicalguy
2 / 5 (4) May 14, 2012
I have an idea that can make both political party's happy. Why not let China do it? They're all proud of themselves and think they're a rising power, let them do it. In fact, since we will abandon the space station soon, let's just give China the space station, it shouldn't matter since everyone in the US seems to care more about themselves than their country.
Eric_B
1 / 5 (4) May 14, 2012
XBW"Wow, that must have been a challenge to twist that article around for your narrow political opinions Eric B"

You are a native of the planet Moronian!

The statement I made encompassed myopic positions taken by the Right and the Left. So, in the context of US politics, my statement was broad.

The implication of my statement was that it is exactly the scope of our political discourse that is narrow and thus stifling of any ambitious projects and possibilities.

therefore...

you:FAIL
Benni
3.2 / 5 (11) May 14, 2012
How could they possibly dub this thing as a starship? It only travels from planet to planet to asteroid etc, within the solar system.

It's a planetship. It would be useless as a starship, because to accelerate it to a speed that would be suitable for interstellar travel, it would be destroyed by interstellar dust before reaching Alpa Centauri, you'd have to keep it's speed to something around 50,000 mph to keep that from happening.

While there may only be about half a dozen atoms per cubic meter of interstellar space, the faster you hit those atoms, the more abrasive they become to the hull. It's a little like running through rain, the faster you walk the more raindrops that hit you & they hit you harder as you increase your walking speed, or if you're traveling in a car.
Tewk
1.7 / 5 (17) May 14, 2012
First the American people have got to send Luddite, Leftist extremists like B.O. packing. And Americans need to again embrace wholeheartedly the idea that character matters. I can hear it now....what on Earth does got to do with building a spaceship ?
And all I can say is, if you don't understand why character or politics is relevant, it's probably a waste of time trying to explain it. Or maybe it's just I don't want to put the effort into explaining it. I will say Americans were able to put a man on the Moon because they had character. America no longer has this intangible, hard to define "character". No we have Obama and his supporters. It's no surprise he has no love for NASA. He doesn't get it. Leftists don't get it.
Tewk
1.7 / 5 (12) May 14, 2012
First the American people have got to send Luddite, Leftist extremists like B.O. packing. And Americans need to again embrace wholeheartedly the idea that character matters. I can hear it now....what on Earth does got to do with building a spaceship ?
And all I can say is, if you don't understand why character or politics is relevant, it's probably a waste of time trying to explain it. Or maybe it's just I don't want to put the effort into explaining it. I will say Americans were able to put a man on the Moon because they had character. America no longer has this intangible, hard to define "character". No we have Obama and his supporters. It's no surprise he has no love for NASA. He doesn't get it. Leftists don't get it.
That said a Star Trek Enterprise is probably impossible..not even desirable. Space travel of any use for the distances we must contend with will have to involve wormhole type travel.
typicalguy
4.4 / 5 (14) May 14, 2012
Tewksbury, would you just stfu about democrats? You clearly haven't been paying attention if you think Republican's are supporters of science. You need to look up the Republican House plan to kill the James Webb Telescope last summer. We are all supporters of science here but your type of partisan bickering does nothing when you close your eyes to the fact that both political party's in the US care more about themselves than basic research. If you continue your one sided arguements without admitting that your chosen side is also flawed, your arguements will be considered invalid by many.
hikenboot
4 / 5 (8) May 14, 2012
While this idea is far fetched and reaching more than just a bit, I think the right wing politically minded people reach even further believing that Obama has just taken us on a crazy spending spree while forgetting the whole time that IT WAS THE REPUBLICANS that got us in our financial mess in the first place. How short our memories are. Look back to Reaganomics and then some of the blame has to go to the democrats in the Bill Clinton years for making policies that allowed loans to be given where they shouldn't have been, but most of the blame is on the Bush administration for not being able to see the nose in front of their face with the costs of their policies on war, economy, and just plain stupidity and lack of corrective measures. There is blame all the way around our current president has been in correction mode for all of his first term. He deserves a chance to fix the mess of the NECESSARY spending measures.
KB_
not rated yet May 14, 2012
Double it with a flip side to have four engine peds and a fifth main rocket thrust in the middle which will allow for planetary landings and take offs. I am all for it. Needs a larger cabin too for cargo, crew and passenger quarters and different energy system than design spec illustrates.
nanotech_republika_pl
5 / 5 (2) May 14, 2012
The new Star Trek movie should tell a story about the time before the young captain Kirk, when BTE Dan's idea was turned into a real ship on the Earth orbit funded by the diverted Medicare tax dollars.
kaasinees
2.3 / 5 (12) May 14, 2012
Is this why the people are made poor?
So they can work on a half assed spaceship?
Skultch
1 / 5 (1) May 14, 2012
Did I miss the discovery of the monolith? Yeaaayyaah!! Let's do this!!!

Wait....people are starving and freezing. Nevermind. It's not that we can't afford to make the collective sacrifice. It's that I don't see why we need humans traveling with the probes and launching them all willy nilly at this point. Surely a series of cooperative probes can accomplish the same mission to enough of a degree to be the better idea. Right????

I guess I just don't get the how the extra value of humans is worth the little extra science. Maybe someone could explain how??
Lurker2358
1.3 / 5 (12) May 14, 2012
Is this why the people are made poor?
So they can work on a half assed spaceship?


People in our space agency are surprisingly narrow minded and ignorant.

A starship is ridiculously expensive and inefficient as an exploratory vessel.

If you are going to build a megastructure in space, it should be a production facility assisted by mass automated space-based mining and refining industry.

I'm sick and tired of Government spending tens of billions of dollars on what amounts to expensive photo shoots of dead planets, when they could be developing technologies to provide nearly limitless power and resources from space with that money.

And just to put that in perspective, $10 Billion could pay for 55,555 heart surgeries, or millions of minor medical or dental procedures.

Instead, they spend it on probes or telescopes which have only marginal scientific value and are always 400% over budget.
Russkiycremepuff
1.4 / 5 (10) May 15, 2012
Russkiycremepuff: Do you mean the interceptor missles that would protect the region(that you also reside in) from offensive missles fired from rogue states? If you are, maybe you could help pay for THOSE, after all, they would bebefit you as well?
- Burnerjack -

You may not realise how close to my country is to Poland, for instance. If the silos are attacked in Poland with nuclear warheads, Russia will also receive the fallout and possibly a stray warhead on medium or long range ICBM launched from possibly China or elsewhere not too far. We prefer to handle Iran our own way. It is vital for Americans and NATO countries to stay out of our way. The Americans did not like our missile silos being built 90 miles from Florida in Cuba. Do you not see the similarity?
Your missiles would not protect our region, but only put us in danger. We are close to Pakistan and Afghanistan near our southern borders. I think that if Iran fires their missiles, so will Pakistan. Moslem brotherhood?
Russkiycremepuff
1.4 / 5 (9) May 15, 2012
Science is the one thing that America and the R.F. can unite for the sake of discovery. We too are interested in space travel to other planets, even if only in our own solar system at first. American, European and Russian scientists have worked together before, so it is not a new thing. But some of us feel that it is imperative to do this thing and leave earth to experience the testing of human bodies in the cosmos. We have all seen the pictures from Hubble and ESA and other telescopes of what has happened in the past. Exploding stars, quasars, Black Holes, etc. All these things may seem to be so far away that cannot hurt our species. But it can and it will if it happens in our own neighborhood. You might say, "what, a supernova in our vicinity? Impossible" But nothing is impossible and we must prepare for such changes. Those of us who go out to other planets will know what it is like and will teach the future cosmonauts how to cope with and protect from such things as radiation.
zz6549
5 / 5 (5) May 15, 2012
His "design" is obviously meant to be a joke, he just took a picture from Star Trek and put labels on it. Given that he's an engineer, he would certainly realize that you don't start designing something of that scale from the top (form -> components). Such a design would start from the bottom (requirements -> components -> form) and the ship would likely look closer to the one in Avatar.

Of course that point is trivial; the purpose of his site was to point out that it is possible to build a spaceship of a large scale given current technology. He makes this point fairly well, and nothing stands out as being unfeasible.

Continued...

jsdarkdestruction
4.2 / 5 (5) May 15, 2012
i dont know about the $$$ part, how often in this area do estimates end up being accurate*cough* jwst*cough*(dont get me wrong i strongly strongly support jwst, i cant wait for it to get done).
russky, i like your unify attitude. im not going to touch on the rest of what you said.
zz6549
5 / 5 (4) May 15, 2012
Continued...

Funding is a different challenge. Of course it would be possible to find one or two trillion for this project, but is it prudent? We spent between 2-4 trillion on the Middle East wars this decade depending on who you ask. Assuming these hadn't happened (for whatever reason), the money could have been invested in this project instead and our economy, taxes, etc, might be in the same position they are now.

However, the biggest question is: why bother?

Did spending trillions of dollars in the Middle East get us anywhere? Probably, but it didn't get us very far. There's no "resounding success" to be had in Afghanistan or Iraq like there was at Potsdam in 1945. Having a big-ass orbiting spaceship would at least give us something to brag about.

Continued...

zz6549
5 / 5 (3) May 15, 2012
Continued...


But, I don't think that's enough. Everything comes down to cost/benefit.

He projects it to cost 40 billion a year (which I believe is *very* conservative). Sure, only a small percent of the national budget. But in reality it isn't that simple.

Wars are easy to fund because they serve an obvious purpose: security. But how does this ship serve the population?
Curiosity: That's better served by the James Webb Space Telescope. Exploration: Better done by automated rovers.
Military: A 100MW laser in space might scare N.K. a bit, but without shields this thing would be pretty easy to blast out of the sky with anti-satellite missiles.
Technology: Some new technologies would be developed (especially in the propulsion and power areas), but these won't necessarily be useful to the majority of the population.

All this would be is inspiration. Maybe that's enough to justify it, but I believe there is much more we should do on Earth before venturing the the stars.

Lex Talonis
3.7 / 5 (15) May 15, 2012
We could ask Jesus to do it - he is up in low earth orbit with nothing much to do and plenty of time on his hands....
alfie_null
not rated yet May 15, 2012
But, I don't think that's enough. Everything comes down to cost/benefit.

Assessing the value of "benefit" to any useful degree of accuracy is not easy (read: impractical). Lots of intangibles. And many of the "concrete" attributes can be argued.

We should do this because we want to, and not try too hard to justify it. That's not likely to happen though; we (nation, world) can't seem to agree on anything lately.
Sonhouse
not rated yet May 15, 2012
They are apparently giving the craft a thrust enough to impart about0.05 G, which is what you need to get to Mars in 40 days or so, that was the design spec of the VASIMR plasma rocket which runs at about 20 megawatts but for a much much lighter craft. My guess is the 'starship' would need at least a gigawatt continuously for months to get going at 1/20th of a G. Maybe 10 gigawatts. Those nacelles would be the plasma rockets and presumably a nuclear power source or two.
panorama
5 / 5 (5) May 15, 2012
We could ask Jesus to do it - he is up in low earth orbit with nothing much to do and plenty of time on his hands....

This time of year he actually migrates to a high polar orbit.
ClevorTrever
1 / 5 (1) May 15, 2012
Assuming that the nuclear reactor is working at constant power then the amount of kinetic energy that can be gained per second will also be constant which leads to the conclusion that the rate of acceleration will drop at a rate related to the elapsed journey time raised the the power of minus one half. Also consider the effective velocity of the ion drive. It will certainly not enjoy constant acceleration.
Terriva
1.5 / 5 (8) May 15, 2012
If we consider, how big technical and financial troubles we have just with keeping six astronauts inside of ISS at the orbit - I really don't think, the building of kilometer sized space-ship is the most urgent problem waiting for its solution in the next decade. If nothing else, with existing frequency of crash accidents it's probable a substantial part of 1 GW nuclear reactor would be dispersed in the atmosphere. The reliability of cosmic flight technologies is not still sufficient for responsible maintenance of nuclear devices at the orbit. Maybe the progress in cold fusion technologies will enable it later.
hikenboot
2.5 / 5 (2) May 15, 2012
We will approach the technological singularity some time near 2038, we should try to get there first. But I think it's too late for the US already...but hope I am wrong...
Deathclock
1.4 / 5 (9) May 15, 2012
Title should be "Engineer looking for his 15 minutes of fame; Thinks we can build Starship Enterprise"
Terriva
2 / 5 (10) May 15, 2012
In 1992 a full scale Starship Enterprise was planned for Fremont Street in Las Vegas. The 150 million dollars project would have been the Wienie (in Disneyspeak) drawing crowds to the undervisited "old" end of Vegas. Analysts calculated that, in addition to admission fees, the Enterprise would have paid for itself by increasing Vegas tourism. The NCC-1701A design measures 1000 feet long, longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall. This would have been 8th Wonder of the world, a tourism symbol along with Sydney's Opera House and the Disney castles. The project was approved by everyone from investors to Las Vegas' Mayor, but was stopped by a single veto from the old man who happened to be CEO of Paramount.

http://www.thegod...4/41.jpg
MikeGroovy
1.6 / 5 (5) May 15, 2012
Reminds me of Master of Orion 2 or Galactic Civilizations II. I always wanted to wait for the next propulsion tech before building new ships. There are some really cool things that could be done with the right kind of investment and research time. Robotic mining of asteroids is a great first step. Knowledge and funds gained from this could make other research possible that would obsolete tech used on Gen-1. If we had a pill to take to mitigate bone loss, no more spinning disk needed. Controlled fusion, would allow for more powerful magnetically constrained plasma shielding. Maybe also antimatter storage.. Advanced Genetics could make producing food faster and easier.
We really need a better way to get into orbit.. Rail system or space elevator.. We still need to build a telescope that is capable of finding a star system worth going to. Something better than JWST.
feline74
3 / 5 (1) May 15, 2012
An over-sized Millennium Falcon would probably be a better model--without Warp Drive, the nacelles on the Enterprise are dead weight at best, off-centered thrusters at worst. The Agamemnon in Babylon 5 would be even better.
bobzta
1 / 5 (4) May 16, 2012
An article I read recently says that if humans keep reproducing at the current rate not even 2 earths will be enough to house us all...therefore the ONLY two options left are genocide and culling of billions of humans and worthless eaters (paraplegics , mentally infirm etc) or we MUST build self contained and self sufficient space craft that will send humans out into the universe. Those are our only 2 choices Im interested in hearing what people make of such an idea, such a craft?
bobzta
1.8 / 5 (5) May 16, 2012
An article I read recently says that if humans keep reproducing at the current rate not even 2 earths will be enough to house us all...therefore the ONLY two options left are genocide and culling of billions of humans and worthless eaters or we MUST build self contained and self sufficient space craft that will send humans out into the universe. Those are our only 2 choices Im interested in hearing what people make of such an idea, such a craft?
bobzta
2.3 / 5 (3) May 16, 2012
Im interested in the space craft and its design, the whole idea throws up thousands of possibilities, processes and methods of construction i.e do we manufacture spare parts in space or drag a million tonnes of spare parts on the journey? one craft or 20 going in different directions? nuclear powered or solar powered or both? and how big would these craft have to be? would they need mega gardens to produce vegetables , and what about water production? who gets to go (only scientists?) there are so many questions to be answered. We humans are akin to microbes growing and reproducing in a lab fridge, we either expand outwards from earth or we die here and venture forth no more distant than our stratosphere, it seems we were designed to expand we have been given a whole universe to explore, its just a matter of time.
LaserLips
3.7 / 5 (3) May 17, 2012

Lastly, why would you put warp nacelles on a ship that is incapable of warp?

My guess is for the nuclear reactors, eh?
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (2) May 17, 2012
Im interested in the space craft and its design


It's an interesting subject but craft like this serve little purpose.

who gets to go (only scientists?) there are so many questions to be answered.


The first question is what is this designed to achieve, i.e. go where? It isn't the right approach to interstllar travel and there are few places other than Earth inthe Solar System that would see large amounts of traffic.
bloodyanarch
5 / 5 (3) May 17, 2012
hmm lets see the GOP and Dem's each raised 40-50 mill just last month for campaigning, maybe we could put that money to use here instead. It would at least be money better spent.
Origin
1 / 5 (2) May 18, 2012
The Canadians already did it at the Vulcan city....
kaasinees
2.8 / 5 (9) May 19, 2012
The first test for warp drives should be a probe that takes a trip around the solar system collecting all sort of neat data.
It would be better for the probe to return to earth, because that would be faster than sending the data through space.
xX_GT_Xx
5 / 5 (3) May 19, 2012
Is everybody so busy arguing politics (all of which is wrong) that nobody noticed that the gravity wheel doesn't conserve angular momentum? I hope the crew enjoys their 90 days carousel ride to Mars...
MandoZink
3 / 5 (1) May 19, 2012
At least without warp drive we don't have to invent a warp-containment field. Or inertial dampening or a structural integrity field.

However a deflector shield might be good thing. I'll get working on that.
Burnerjack
1.3 / 5 (3) May 20, 2012
Having a big-ass orbiting spaceship would at least give us something to brag about.

I think having ZERO national debt and low unemployment would be much more worthy of bragging rights. Besides, Somebody like Fox would just say it was a hoax anyway. Hostiles would claim it was an orbitting weapon system, the list goes on. Pay off the debt. Set your grandchildren free!
aironeous
5 / 5 (2) May 21, 2012
Wow, that must have been a challenge to twist that article around for your narrow political opinions Eric B.

Anyhow, the geek in me thinks this is the coolest idea since.....anything but the realist in me knows there is much more to this than appears on paper. For example, how to handle micrometeorites.


Demron for radiation shielding for humans, shields against many types of radiation http://www.radshield.com/ (he calls it a liquid metal but it is some sort of alloy suspended in a pastic)

For structual radiation shielding Iron based liquid metals (or amorphous metals) will work as a sprayed coating and resist corrosion & embrittlement via radiation.
https://e-reports...1112.pdf

For micrometeorite shielding in the inner layers of the hull, liquid armor by BAE systems
www.baesystems.co...d-armour

Another material that has been developed by Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and is part of the
aironeous
5 / 5 (2) May 21, 2012
Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program.
is a nanotube suspended in a polymer material that is stronger than kevlar.
http://www.gizmag...r/17203/

For impact absorption between hull layers, metal foam developed by Afsaneh Rabiei at http://www.mae.nc.../rabiei/
JES
3 / 5 (1) May 21, 2012
More QE and put it to proper use. Will turn everything around!
antialias_physorg
3.3 / 5 (3) May 21, 2012
Pay off the debt. Set your grandchildren free!

Unlikely. Have you seen the debt figures? At any feasible rate of paying that back there will be quite a number of generations chipping in until this is payed off.

Getting a balanced budget is already utopian given today's budget structure and 'no-go' areas for cost cutting (read: military).
Xbw
1.6 / 5 (7) May 21, 2012
As this would not be traveling at relativistic speeds the problem of impactors would be the same as with any currently envisioned interplanetary transport. Right ritchie?

Your mislabeling me as someone else again aside, yes, this would pose a problem to any craft traveling within our solar system.
nxent
5 / 5 (1) May 21, 2012
shouldn't the enterprise (1701A) only be some 330 meters in length?

not sure how the comments to this article got to be so political. thought i'd see more dialog about the technological/scientific feasibility of the idea. interesting concept, though.
Xbw
2.1 / 5 (7) May 21, 2012
shouldn't the enterprise (1701A) only be some 330 meters in length?

not sure how the comments to this article got to be so political. thought i'd see more dialog about the technological/scientific feasibility of the idea. interesting concept, though.


The politic trolls get hold of almost every article. You will see this as time passes.
bobzta
5 / 5 (3) May 22, 2012
Firstly you guys can stick your politics the subject is Can humans inhabit the universe in the future" and can we design some kind of space exploration craft to take humans out there...the object being to look for inhabitable planets or solar systems? Thats all you guys have to discuss here, lose the political horse shit and get on with solving the damned problem.
Xbw
1.7 / 5 (6) May 23, 2012
Firstly you guys can stick your politics the subject is Can humans inhabit the universe in the future" and can we design some kind of space exploration craft to take humans out there...the object being to look for inhabitable planets or solar systems? Thats all you guys have to discuss here, lose the political horse shit and get on with solving the damned problem.
PREACH IT!
roboferret
5 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2012
I have a proposal for deflecting particles - airbags. Hear me out! The Earth is protected from particles by an atmosphere. Some of these particles are relativistic, atomic nuclei from supernova.
A grain of sand (350ng) would have a relative kinetic energy of about 4Gj to a craft moving at 0.5c. That's heavy weaponry territory. I propose an "atmosphere" - a gas shield extending in the direction of travel. This could be physical, with a plasma window at the front to prevent gas escaping through piercings. particles colliding would enter the plasma window, and dissipate their energy in the gas. this could be almost arbitrarily long. A 150km shield would have about 1ms to dissipate the energy, at a rate of 4GW. 4GW radiated over a 150km cylinder is easily doable. the particle would probably be a dissipated plasma before it reached the hull. The density of the gas need not be great, so it's mass could be kept fairly low.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2012
I propose an "atmosphere" - a gas shield extending in the direction of travel.

Erm. How about: No?
Accelerate this, how? Con tain this, how? Maneuver with it, how?

And no: this is not going to stop a relativistic grain of sand. We have evidence of relativistic nuclei (which are much, MUCH smaller than a grain of sand) getting through the Earth's atmosphere to the ground with about the energy of a thrown baseball. Such a particle would first punch a hole in any containment structure and then blow it apart from the inside with explosive decompression before wrecking your craft.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Jun 01, 2012
You mean like this?

"Deflector shields made of ionized gas are under development by British scientists. These Star Trek-style shields could be turned off or on depending on solar activity or other requirements."
http://www.scifor...882.html

-I suggest both of you should perhaps research before posting yes?
roboferret
not rated yet Jun 01, 2012
Erm. How about: No?
Accelerate this, how? Con tain this, how? Maneuver with it, how?

Gently. A lightweight material/plasma window. You don't manoeuvre a starship during the coast phase.


And no: this is not going to stop a relativistic grain of sand. We have evidence of relativistic nuclei (which are much, MUCH smaller than a grain of sand) getting through the Earth's atmosphere to the ground with about the energy of a thrown baseball.
Then I propose we make the hull baseball proof. A grain of sand has a much larger cross section, and would dissipate its energy much faster.
Such a particle would first punch a hole

in any containment structure

there's a plasma window at the leading edge. I did mention this.
and then blow it apart from the inside with explosive decompression before wrecking your craft.


27KW per linear meter. easily dissipated.
roboferret
not rated yet Jun 01, 2012
You mean like this?

"Deflector shields made of ionized gas are under development by British scientists. These Star Trek-style shields could be turned off or on depending on solar activity or other requirements."
http://www.scifor...882.html

-I suggest both of you should perhaps research before posting yes?


Interesting, but for a different problem, I'm talking about effectively high-speed meteors.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Jun 01, 2012
"The original "Daedalus" study proposed an artificial dust cloud moving 200 kilometres ahead of the main vehicle and this might prove sufficiently effective. Alternatively newer materials have become available which might provide multilayer protection carbon allotropes, the most exciting of which is graphene...To put the bumper in place, perhaps 100 kilometres ahead, it can be deployed via a small sub-vehicle"
http://www.icarus...rs-real/
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2012
there's a plasma window at the leading edge. I did mention this.

Ok, so we need some heavy tech at the top of the shield...which means the entire thing would have to be rigid or you couldn't accelerate it at all without collapsing.

Did you factor in the mass required to contain 150 km column of earth size atmosphere against the vacuum of space?

How were you planning to slow this contraption down, BTW, without catastrophic collapse? Or would the slowdown phase just be 'unshielded'?

I just say we take a solid dummy with an engine and send it 100km ahead of the main ship. let it take anything that is in the way and thereby sweep the area clean.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2012
Hmmm..just read up on that plasma window. Seems a pretty neat idea.

One small niggle, though, would be that the machinery you'd need to create it would be (at least in significant part) at the forefront - i.e. basically unshielded...as would be any of the sides of the containment structure in the top 50% for any particle that happened to come in at an angle (though at those speeds angles would be very small, but you could have stuff come in in line with the wall, which wouldn't be good...and no real wayy to prevent that.)
roboferret
not rated yet Jun 02, 2012
Agreed, it isn't foolproof, I'm just playing with ideas rather than presenting a complete solution. Ideally the whole gas bag would be magnetically contained, but I'm limiting myself to known engineering. The mass running ahead of the ship is a good idea too. A lighter weight option might be spaced plates, the first one would effectively vaporize the impactor, any remnants get handled by the middle plates, gradually diffusing the energy, basically composite armour but spread out over hundreds of km. I was orginally just considering how the energy from a ultra high speed impactor could be dissipated at a manageable rate.