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Engineer Thinks We Could Build a Real Starship Enterprise In 20 Years

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the to-boldly-go dept.

Space 589

Nancy_A writes "An engineer has proposed — and outlined in meticulous detail — building a full-sized, ion-powered version of the starship Enterprise. The ship would be based on current technology, and would take about 20 years to construct, at a cost of roughly $1 trillion. '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."

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There's no starship with just an ion drive (5, Insightful)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978989)

An "Enterprise-type" starship is a misnomer at best. An ion drive to get to even the closest star would have to be a "generation" ship. It would take generations of people, born, liviing, dying, to reach the nearest stars.

The alternative would be some sort of 2001-type hibernation, which also would not be anything like the Enterprise.

"Beam me up Scottie, there's no intelligent life in this article."

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979011)

Robotic mission with humans grown near the destination.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (5, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979015)

Engineer designs starship in spare time. Here's another man who needs to get laid...

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979071)

No, that would be "engineer designs sexbot in spare time". Or perhaps a holodeck.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979395)

at a cost of roughly $1 trillion

So a fraction of what we spend on the military finding new ways to blow things up or on wall street bailing out incompetent bankers, then?

We definitely have our priorities don't we?

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (5, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979041)

If you RTFA, there is no goal to reach the next star. The Gen 1 would be an explorer for our solar system alone. The quoted specs say it could reach the moon in 3 days, mars in 90, and be able to visit other planets in reasonable times as well.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979271)

I like the idea, but a scaled down version of one of the 4 engine configuration would work better. redundency in case of an engine loss and better directional control.
maybe a Constellation class or Cheyenne class.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979285)

That's nice and all, but there if there is no artificial gravity, no inertial dampeners, nothing to shield from radiation (other than thick walls), then they really don't have an "Enterprise-style" ship at all. They just have a space ship using an ion drive. If you can't tell your helmsman "all stop" (and have him stop the ship's motion relative to some object instantly) - you don't have an Enterprise.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (4, Insightful)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979385)

Hence the statement there is no STARship with just an ion drive. Starships travel between the stars.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (4, Insightful)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979417)

Everything that could be done with the "Enterprise" is already much more likely to be done with unmanned probes. The "Starship Enterprise" is as much a waste of money as the space shuttle program was a waste because it failed to build on the success of the Saturn series.

The simple fact is that we're now back to begging the Russians to use "outdated" technology to do the job because the shuttles were a pork-barrel program that ended up crippling NASA financially and politically.

The shuttle itself was "defective by design", the seals that led to the Challenger disaster only needed because the SRBs were pork-barrelled out to a location that was far enough away that couldn't ship single-piece SRBs to the launch site, so they had to be built in segments.

Additionally, medding by the DoD led to the requirement that the shuttle be capable of doing near-high-polar-orbit missions, leading to a lowering of cargo capacity (high-polar orbits can't take advantage of the equatorial boost of the earth's spin).

Any trillion-dollar program is going to end up with the same problems. And yet, as the skate-board sized Mars Rovers showed, you can do real, long-term exploration - today - for half a billion for a pair of probes.

NASA's $18 billion could send out a probe a week every week, year-round. When a probe can work for almost a decade ... you do the math.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (3, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979049)

"We have the technological reach... so let's do it..."

Apparently this fellow has never heard of this little thing called "priorities".

Like the health care and food issues that face the world, and the tremendous difference that a trillion dollars could make to those problems.

Or investing it in providing actual high speed access to the third world to help them educate themselves so they can crawl OUT of the cesspool of a third-world lifestyle.

Or, or, or. There is a long laundry list of things more important than a ship that serves no purpose other than "build it, and they will come."

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979117)

We're gonna spend a lot more than a trillion dollars on the F-35. We are insanely rich, and we have a ton of money to waste on stuff like this.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (2)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979237)

Just like all those billions wasted on the F-22 [slate.com] , another fighter that is obsoleted by real-world events.

In the meantime, the real action is with cheaper remote-guided probes and missiles and cheaper vehicles such as the choppers that ferried the Seal team that killed bin laden.

The F35 is a total waste of money, and will never have a real mission.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (3, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979257)

We're gonna spend a lot more than a trillion dollars on the F-35. We are insanely rich, and we have a ton of money to waste on stuff like this.

Little fact check here. Yes, we are going to spend a trillion dollars on the F-35 over the lifetime of the project. That is, if we're lucky and there aren't additional cost overruns. But no, we do not have tons of money to waste. Right now the U.S. national debt is almost 16 trillion dollars, which comes to about $50,000 for every man, woman, and child. Building this dude's fantasy, assuming it was even doable, would require an additional $3,000 dollars from every person in the country.

Using the F-35 isn't really a very good example. That's like saying, "all the other kids in the school are doing it!" Just because we're wasting insane amounts of money on military toys that aren't necessary and will probably be hopelessly obsolete within 15-20 years doesn't mean that we can and should waste money elsewhere.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (0, Flamebait)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979373)

which comes to about $50,000 for every man, woman, and child

Or a fair share of taxes paid for every multi-millionaire, billionaire, and corporation...

PFFFT! That's never going to happen. The rich just keep getting richer, and the poor just keep getting poorer.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (4, Insightful)

pcardoso (132954) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979157)

Those trillion dollars would create a lot of jobs building a thing like this.

Or all those billions going to the moon were wasted and nothing good came out of it?

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979277)

Like the health care and food issues that face the world, and the tremendous difference that a trillion dollars could make to those problems.

Or investing it in providing actual high speed access to the third world to help them educate themselves so they can crawl OUT of the cesspool of a third-world lifestyle.

While all very noble, just once, step back and consider what the outcome will be.
1. Health care: if the people being treated don't have a say in payment two outcomes happen, costs balloon (US system), or rationing is necessary (most universal systems).
2. Food issues: Availability isn't the issue, distribution is. So long as regional dictators can use it as a weapon, that won't be fixed. Are you proposing delivering at the point of a gun?
3. Investing in high speed access. No different than dumping food on countries. Net result is the native industries cannot compete and the investment becomes a welfare program or dies.

Meanwhile, investing in this move tech forward, provides jobs now, and potentially greatly increases available resources that can be exploited. Now, here's the punchline, we won't do it because of lefties like you saying social programs! and righties who hate science in general.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979319)

I wouldn't say no purpose. We're going to need a fast ship if we're going to travel to another Earth-like planet and colonize it. And building a slow ship would give us more experience to build a faster ship. Still, you're right, there are other priorities, especially considering how limited our space technology is.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979337)

You seem to regard life as a zero-sum game. Perhaps some introspection is in order.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (2)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979359)

Apparently you have never heard of the US government - throwing money at pointless oil-stealing wars by the trillions in the name of 'terror'. Fuck, Minnesota just passed plans to build a new Vikings stadium for a cost of around a billion dollars. What were these 'priorities' you were talking about again?

There is no humanitarian effort that will be lost to this construction project, only corrupt kickbacks, expensive useless fluff, and an unjust 'war'.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979391)

Like the health care and food issues that face the world

With American-style political dogma and human nature, these issues will never be solved. Never.

They may be mitigated and small adjustments might be made, but they will be with us as long as there is a human race.

America will fall before it solves its health care and poor problem.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979423)

I don't know.... America is throwing about $20 billion down a rathole call the SLS. If that same money was put toward building something like a 1:1 scale model of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701 in orbit, I would think it would be money better spent. At least in theory the money spent towards the SLS program is supposed to go into space anyway, so why not build a monument to government corruption that everybody can see rather than somebody touring the western desert of Utah?

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979293)

You'd also need a holodeck, transporter, computer with perfect voice recognition and comprehension, and a universal translator. And an android. And for that matter, a woman with Troi's first-season hairdo.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979331)

He's very careful to call it a "spaceship", not a "starship". The guy is crazy, not canon-ignorant.

Re:There's no starship with just an ion drive (4, Insightful)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979405)

More to the point, why on earth would you want to build a spaceship shaped like the Enterprise? It's not a particularly practical design for a spacecraft. It was picked for the show for exactly 3 reasons: 1) it looks like the ship from Forbidden Planet but with enough visual differences to avoid a lawsuit, 2) it looks cool and science-fictiony, 3) it fits in with all the fictional technology that it is fictionally loaded with (warp nacelles, deflector dish, etc). Assuming none of that stuff exists (and it doesn't), then don't make it that shape.

If what you want is a spaceship with ion engines and a rotating section with faux-gravity for pootling around the solar system, the best shape would not look like the Enterprise. If you must model it on something from fiction, the Discovery from 2001 is probably a better bet; but in reality it'll look much more pragmatically like the stuff we're building now.

Making it look like a prop from Star Trek is nothing but a nerdy wet dream.

actually... (3, Funny)

irussel (78667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39978993)

screw the starship...just give me the holodeck. without the glitches preferably.

Mother of all Kickstarters (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39978999)

I smell the mother of all kickstarters launching in 5, 4, 3, 2 ...

Database Error (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979007)

They can't even build a website to withstand Slashdotting. You'd trust them building a ship to take you into space?

Re:Database Error (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979081)

Especially because a Slashdotting ain't what it used to be.

Re:Database Error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979161)

Especially because a Slashdotting ain't what it used to be.

Do we have stats on this?

I could not find it (4, Funny)

skipkent (1510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979009)

I could not find this project on kickstarter

Star ship Enterprise? (4, Insightful)

dispersionrelation (2534290) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979023)

The proposed ship would be starship Enterprise in the same sense the space shuttle Enterprise is the star ship enterprise. Not really a star ship if it can't travel between the stars... So why spend 20 years and 1 trillion dollars building a ship to explore the solar system? I think it would be much cheaper, quicker and more feasible to simply build an armada of probes to explore great tracts of the solar system in a much shorter period of time for much less money then a single ship flying from world to world.

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (5, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979061)

So why spend 20 years and 1 trillion dollars building a ship to explore the solar system?

Because it's better than spending a trillion dollars to kill brown people with oil.

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979171)

How do you kill with oil? Oil drowning?

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979393)

They might not be brown if you weren't trying to kill them with oil.

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (4, Interesting)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979069)

If that's where we're going to be eventually - in space. We'll get there a lot quicker by building 'useless' projects like this. Plus it's exciting. More exciting than say, oh I don't know, spending 1 trillion on blowing up the world or something.

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (1)

RodBee (2607323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979125)

I didn't know the only alternative was to make bombs with the money.

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979287)

It's just what we are currently doing with it. GP could have said that it's better than throwing the money at training strippers, but since we aren't already doing that, and because that may actually garner a lot of support here, it would not have been as strong an argument.

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979203)

We'll get there a lot quicker by building 'useless' projects like this.

I doubt it. If taking this project at face value (which is dubious since "a systems engineer and electrical engineer who has worked at a Fortune 500 company for the past 30 years" is a credential gobs of random people could claim), then it is a trillion dollars just to build the thing. That's more than 6 fold the cost of building *and* operating the ISS for 15 years. The result is a single facility that isn't particularly efficient at any specific task that seems to incur a high cost simply for the vanity of resembling an oversized variant of a science fiction construct. It also means that one accident and *poof*, a trillion in resources down the drain.

I would imagine that multiple, purpose oriented projects could more practically meet the same ends. The 'coolness' of a few decades old sci-fi show isn't enough to offset the sticker shock delta between practical endeavors and this.

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979279)

Maybe you're right. I'm sure we'd learn a lot on the way though.

I also guess material science (to name but one) will advance so much in the next 100 years that we should wait anyway like you say.

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (2)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979415)

material science (to name but one) will advance so much in the next 100 years

Not nearly as much as if we had an effort to design materials suitable for long-term space habitation, ship structure, impact/micrometeorite protection, etc.

Even if this project doesn't leave Earth orbit, it would still be a monumental step in the right direction from a planet that values rotten underground dinosaur juice to be more important than any type of space program at all.

I don't remember who said it, or the exact wording, but I think it was something like: "If aliens showed up, we would stop fighting amongst ourselves and unify as Humans very quickly".

Come on, Aliens, give us a hand on this one.

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979085)

In twenty years, we will be almost exactly where we are, today. We won't have returned to the moon. We won't have gone to mars. We probably won't even have a space station (the ISS is on its last leg and, I believe, is already serving longer than was originally intended). For all intents and purposes, our space exploration is on total fucking hold while we piss ourselves over pot-holes on earth, because our sense of discovery is fucking DONE as a society.

Re:Star ship Enterprise? (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979345)

our sense of discovery is fucking DONE as a society

I don't think so. But we're too preoccupied with bullshit to get anything done.

What type of Enterprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979025)

Would it be a series NX-x of NCC-1701x?

Modulo the small problem of getting into orbit (5, Insightful)

sphealey (2855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979029)

There is no doubt that in a situation of species-threatening emergency that mankind has, today, the technology to construct a quite large object in earth orbit and give it enough engine power to move through the solar system (Orion drive or whatever). The problem is that we do not have the technology to get stuff out of the Earth's gravity well with anything greater than 0.1% efficiency, and in the process of building that Enterprise-sized object we would destroy the Earth's atmosphere and ecosystem. So until a 10,000x better surface-to-orbit launch technology comes along this ain't gonna happen.

sPh

Re:Modulo the small problem of getting into orbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979055)

That's why eccentric billionaires are going to build that object out of asteroids using robots.

Re:Modulo the small problem of getting into orbit (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979089)

Yep, in a journey to the stars, the first hundred miles [wikipedia.org] is a real bitch.

Re:Modulo the small problem of getting into orbit (2)

belthize (990217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979103)

Done, http://www.planetaryresources.com/ [planetaryresources.com] no gravity well problem because all resources collection occurs outside the well. Just have to lift people and food and even the latter could be done in space.

Granted they may not be ready with supplies soon enough for his timescale. It's merely a question of priorities. If, as a species, we decided this was a useful expense we could do it. The money spent planet wide on military in the last decade would be more than enough.

Re:Modulo the small problem of getting into orbit (1)

sphealey (2855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979179)

...because all resources collection occurs outside the well.

Bit of a chicken-and-egg problem there unfortunately.

sPh

Re:Modulo the small problem of getting into orbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979261)

no, I think the starship would be made with metals, graphenes and polymers. Oh, you you meant food for the workers...

build a space elevator and use it to get the parts (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979147)

build a space elevator and use it to get the parts to space and build the ship there.

Re:build a space elevator and use it to get the pa (4, Insightful)

sphealey (2855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979169)

= = = = build a space elevator and... = = = =

Soon as that 1000x-stronger-than-spider-silk cable material is invented, the electrical charge problems are solved, and the people living under the fall path of a broken cable accept the risk we are good to go. Just a few minor engineering obstacles to be sure.

sPh

Re:Modulo the small problem of getting into orbit (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979193)

Smart. This may be tangentially related to the recent speculation in asteroid mining. Even with extreme costs in dollars and lives factored in, raw materials shipped from earth would be far costlier.

Re:Modulo the small problem of getting into orbit (1)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979195)

... The problem is that we do not have the technology to get stuff out of the Earth's gravity well with anything greater than 0.1% efficiency, and in the process of building that Enterprise-sized object we would destroy the Earth's atmosphere and ecosystem. ...

Not so fast. I'm not very optimistic about this project ever getting off of the ground either, but the issue that you raise is easily circumvented if most of the mass for the ship comes from a captured asteroid and the whole thing is manufactured and assembled in orbit.

Re:Modulo the small problem of getting into orbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979371)

Yes, remember that the Enterprise couldn't escape Earth's gravity either. Of course, now we're talking about building a space station and a starship.

Proper utilization of resources (0)

rmdingler (1955220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979063)

Once the petroleum runs out in Arabia, perhaps the Mullahs can be persuaded to teach that the 21-virgin plan has been expanded to include ultimate sacrifice for space exploration. My keyboard is "snarkyless", unlike the commentary.

Let's rock... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979065)

Awesome.

"We have the technological reach . . ." (5, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979067)

Technological reach is never the problem. Political reach is.

Re:"We have the technological reach . . ." (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979191)

Sometimes true, but I would wager that technological issues might actually be even more insurmountable than political ones when it comes to building warp engines.

Re:"We have the technological reach . . ." (2)

evil_aaronm (671521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979355)

I got it: as someone posted above, we tend to spend more on weapons than other useful stuff. So, to fund it, we tout it as a defense against alien invasion. You know, instead of waiting for those bulbous green-eyed bastards that want to suck our brains out with their probosces, we need to create a star fleet to go on the offensive.

There's gotta be at least one general or admiral who'll latch on to it and push Congress for it.

gravity wheel has weird orientation wrt thrust (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979087)

If the ship accelerates under constant acceleration per the description then at the front side of the saucer those on the gravity wheel will feel
1G - A
and those on the back side of the saucer will fell
1G + A

So every loop around the gravity wheel you go through 2A of gravity variance As the +A thrust vector rotates from your feet to head and side to side of you.

Sea-sickness prevails.

It might have a lot of "detail" but an error this glaring just seems that they have missed a whole lot of other stuff.

Re:gravity wheel has weird orientation wrt thrust (2)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979145)

And if A is small relative to 1G, you won't notice it.

Re:gravity wheel has weird orientation wrt thrust (2)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979155)

And if A is small relative to 1G you won't get anywhere.
Certainly not mars in 90 days.

Re:gravity wheel has weird orientation wrt thrust (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979189)

Yeah, the enterprise is a cruddy shape. One could make a set of rings arranged as a group in a ring. During one G acceleration the small rings rotate so up is direction of travel. During coasting the larger ring rotates, during maneuvering and speeds between full thrust and coasting the individual rings re-orient or spin to create a sense of constant gravity and orientation. Transfer from one set of rings to the other is through the center into a zero-g orientation neutral pathway.

Re:gravity wheel has weird orientation wrt thrust (2)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979205)

Ion engines don't provide significant thrust force, but they run continuously for a *very* long time, which is an ideal coupling with solar power and low launch weight.

A G, so it doesn't really matter.

If A ~ G, and you can run continuously anyway, then you don't need a spinning disk - whenever the engines are on, they define up and down for you.

Re:gravity wheel has weird orientation wrt thrust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979325)

I haven't read the article (server slashdotted), but it seems to me that this would only be a problem if the ship acceleration (A) is in the same plane that the gravity wheel is spinning. If the ship accelleration were perpendicular to the gravity wheel plane, then there is no perceived change in gravity.

Re:gravity wheel has weird orientation wrt thrust (2)

theswimmingbird (1746180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979403)

Easy fix. Reroute emergency power to inertial dampeners and the structural integrity field.

I wonder about this (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979095)

1) Building a high-tech gadget means it will be obsolete before it is half done. This is not like building a cathedral.
2) No one has a trillion dollars to spend on this.

Re:I wonder about this (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979245)

Well the solution is to allow the republicans to have full control. Remove minimum wage limits and reinstate slavery.

Now we can mine all the resources and build the raw materials cheaply. The real workers, the managers and executives can get incredibly high pay while they supervise the construction. I am guessing we will have to pay the scientists something, unless there is a way we can change the laws so that they are forced to work because it is for national security... Oh that is a brilliant idea... Those executives deserve their pay, they need a raise! An extra million a year for everyone who has a corner office!

Re:I wonder about this (2)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979267)

2) No one has a trillion dollars to spend on this.

Wrong. The money is there - it's just currently going to killing people for oil.

http://costofwar.com/en/ [costofwar.com]

This is nothing like the Enterprise except ... (5, Interesting)

dougmc (70836) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979105)

This is nothing like the Enterprise except in shape -- and it would be pointless to duplicate the shape.

And besides, in the Enterprise world, dilithium crystals (with antimatter in there somewhere) were the power source of "reality", and "ion power" was what made Scottie get all wide-eyed.

With current technology, we'd end up with a generational sublight ship. Keeping in with the Star Trek theme, this would be closer to the SS Botany Bay [memory-alpha.org] which according to Star Trek canon was launched only 18 years ago. Of course, that turned out horribly wrong, so maybe it's not the mission to emulate.

Joking aside, making such a ship would be very neat. But the guy needs to stop pretending that it has anything to do with Star Trek or it's Enterprise. We could call it Enterprise if we wanted, but picking that shape would be silly -- there are much more practical shapes to be had. And considering just how expensive this would be, we should be trying to make it practical rather than novel.

Power of Persuasion (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979183)

Actually, having NASA embark to "building the actual Enterprise" might be just what the US needs to get funding back into space. You have to get the public on board. In the 60's rockets were cool and new, now they are old hat. "Why do we need to do that, we did it before".

Re:This is nothing like the Enterprise except ... (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979207)

I threw this post against the submitted story, but this looks like a good anchor to bring it over here, slightly abridged...

Form follows function. The form of the Enterprise, if it were to follow any sort of function at all, would have been dictated by warp physics, not gravitywheels and ion engines. You could force-fit a nuclear-reactor powered ion-engine propelled spaceship into a shape like the Enterprise, I suppose. But I'm sure there would be other, much more logical shapes.

Like f'rinstance the Discovery from 2001, or the starship from Avatar.

Re:This is nothing like the Enterprise except ... (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979307)

The form of the Enterprise, if it were to follow any sort of function at al

The function of the shape of the Enterprise is to look cool. (And it succeeded, I might add.) Everything else comes from that.

Actually, if I recall correctly the shape came first, but then the series creators realized it couldn't land on a planet, so they added the shuttlecraft and transporters ...

As for logical shapes, I'd think where it was a rotating cylinder or sphere (for gravity) with its propulsion at the center would make the most sense. The engines could rotate with the rest of the ship or be stopped with some sort of coupling (though the coupling might be problematic.)

This is a well thought out essay [josephshoer.com] on how we'd build space ships with current technology to wage war with -- many of the considerations would not apply to a ship not meant for battle, but still, he seems to have a good handle on things.

All this said, I guess the guy's idea of making it look like the Enterprise isn't really a failure, as it gets people talking about it. If it was just a sphere with a rocket, nobody would care (no matter how good the idea was, though it's not a new idea by any stretch). But by making it all Star Trekkish, we all talk about how to correct it and that's exposure that the idea wouldn't have had before.

Slashdotted site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979115)

I'd have more faith in his ideas if he could provide a working website first.

Could be done. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979127)

Even quicker if it was a collab between this project and Planetary Resources. That price could come down considerably.

And who knows, maybe in the next few decades we will crack the universe open and develop some sort of new tech to actually make it a starship and not just "planetship".
A lot of our knowledge on high energies is based heavily on experimentation and theoretical limits we think are there because we see a curve on a graph.
But as we know, correlation is not equal to reality most of the time on the very large or very small.
Quantum Mechanics regularly screws with the heads of scientists every year for fun.
Likewise, the very large, General Relativity literally breaks down at very high energies because we still haven't really been able to test it on the large scale, only observe a few things appear to fit the model
Then there is the motherload of confusion, dark matter and energy, which is just completely out there at the moment, we haven't a clue what it is, just what it does.

What do we know?
The next century is going to be extremely exciting for science and the human race. More so than the industrial age.
Let's just hope this planetary resources thing goes well, and countries don't get too cocky and decide to nuke each other.

Size... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979131)

and be similar in size with the same look as the USS Enterprise that we know from Star Trek.

Not according to the picture. The picture depicts it as longer than Burj Khalifa is tall. That means it is about 3 times bigger than the enterprise was supposed to be.

I'd ditch the hull design first thing. (2, Insightful)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979163)

Seriously, is this a joke? The very first thing I'd chuck away when building a star ship inspired by Star Trek is the design of the Enterprise. There are countless way better, suitable and even more realistic space ship designs than that fragile contraption.

Re:I'd ditch the hull design first thing. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979215)

Seriously, is this a joke? The very first thing I'd chuck away when building a star ship inspired by Star Trek is the design of the Enterprise. There are countless way better, suitable and even more realistic space ship designs than that fragile contraption.

For starts, I'm guessing that an ion drive would have to be mounted along (or symmetrical about) the ship's center of gravity.

Re:I'd ditch the hull design first thing. (4, Funny)

Reemi (142518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979361)

Yes, let's build a cube.

Kickstarter (1, Funny)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979173)

Sounds like a good kickstarter project. I'll chip in.

And it would be retarded to do so. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979223)

The enterprise is horribly designed. Honestly it's good for Skiffy but it sucks in reality. This is where this guy falls on his face hard. There are other designs that real engineers have came up with that would work better, even just a long round tube is a lot better design than this.

Plus building something that huge is ridiculousness, unless you are thinking ARK ship for people to leave earth and never return, but even then the enterprise is the worst possible design you could use.

what is next? let's lift the Yamamoto off the ocean floor and fit engines to it to turn it into a space battleship?

Re:And it would be retarded to do so. (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979413)

You jest, but perhaps we could use the Yamamato to build some type of "Yamamato Cannon" that could be mounted to this new space ship. It could be useful if they ironically get attacked by Klingons while trekking through space.

BTE-Dan ? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979233)

It should be BAD-Dan, as in "Be A Dork".

Error establishing a database connection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979243)

If you can't build and host a proper website, how are you going to build and operate a freakin' spaceship?

Put it in real world dollars (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979263)

We just spent that much getting revenge for 911 and the meter is still running. By the time we pull out and add up all the benefits to soldiers the number I heard was 3 to 5 trillion. The point is just what we spent to date in the middle east would fund the project and which is likely to yield more benefits? It would even end up quasi commercial because most first world countries would sign on to have their scientists on board and pay to have probes launched. In the end it could pay for itself and it could become a source for locating and harvesting rare earth materials that are in short supply here on Earth. Cut 50 billion out of the military budget which isn't hard and there's your funding.

Sans warp drive (1)

davydagger (2566757) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979265)

what made the enterprise so exciting was "Warp Speed" accomplished by a "Warp Drive"....

so, for the tune of $1 Trillion dollars, why re-create a ship, who's entire design merits is based on asthetics of Hollywood, and without its most important part, the faster than light "Warp Drive" and self sustaining matter/anti-matter reaction that can power it almost indefinately.

While I am a big fan of the TV shows and movies, and I very much for space exploration, this is bogus. Step back into reality dude. A real life model of the USS enterprise is nothing more than a gimmick. At the cost of $1 trillion its an unaffordable gimmick for ANYONE.

Mabey when space technology advances in 50-60 years, if it does(space age is OVER), it'd make a very nice concept for a space cruise liner. One giant gimmick, where you dress the crew up in star trek inspired uniforms, and treat the guests to a retro-futuristic ride through space with 60s music and dance parties, stage acting, and gimmicky goodness.

Project Icarus (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979273)

A slightly more realistic run at sending a probe to a nearby star.

http://www.icarusinterstellar.org/

Funding secured by Moon Unit Zappa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979281)

This is the real thing, folks!

Seriously though, I want to get excited about space travel. I grew up on a diet of sci-fi books and whatever NASA was doing I'd be watching closely.

Coming to slashdot these days is like being hit by a brick of cynicism. "The governments and the corporations are corrupt, what's the point in even trying to change things?". It makes me sad.

If we can't even get excited about our childhood fantasies (Trek etc), what's left?

I love responding to my own posts. It's fun! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979309)

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself.

Choose your future.

Choose life.

(Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting)

Life imitates art? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979291)

This seems like either the deeds of mighty Captain Pirk [google.com] of Star Wreck fame, or the "invention" of transparant aluminum [youtube.com] .

Build in Bulk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979295)

Then we can have a beowulf cluster of Enterprise ships!

Small minded people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39979313)

Wow, I can't believe the amount of people that are comming out of the woodwork to say 'this is stupid'. Honestly, humanity needs to pour massive amounts of funding in leaving the planet. Sure we don't have the technology to warp spacetime, but goddamn it, the solar system is a big place and it's a great start. Having the resources of multiple planets at our collective disposal could open up a new golden age of human exploration. Why is everyone so small minded about this?

Cool! (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979317)

Now we just need to find somebody with the money...

by comparison (4, Insightful)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979333)

Time to build starship: 20 years.
Time to reach nearest star: 10,000 years (*)

Based on these numbers, wouldn't it be better to let technology progress a little bit further?

(*) IANAA, not an astronomer

Forget the Enterprise (2)

dead_user (1989356) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979349)

I'd rather a Six, from Tripping the Rift.

Physics! (1)

pcjunky (517872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979351)

The Faster than light thing is a problem as no one knows how to make it work. Discovery one (2001 Space Odyssey) may be possible though. Sans Hal. Maybe Siri could substitute.

Large spacecraft design -- make them spherical (4, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979365)

I think if I were an engineer, looking to built large megastructures in space, with sufficient shielding for human occupants, I think I would look at a sphere first. Minimum surface area to enclose a given volume. Build from the inside out. Controllable rotational gravity; outer compartments are filled with water and storage; further in, put people and living space; further in still, put a radiation storm shelter (humans can cope with microgravity for short periods with no ill effects). Besides, if you were building a spacecraft not designed for reentry, there would be no need to make it aerodynamic.

Perhaps we should be taking our inspiration from the Death Star, not the Starship Enterprise.

Ships have to have a purpose (5, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39979377)

Columbus didn't sail three Caravels across the Atlantic "just because." The one thing missing in the history of space exploration has been a solid reason to do it. So far, it's been a somewhat aimless pissing match between superpowers -- let's put people on the moon with golf clubs, or float around the planet in a pressurized tin can for 6 months. Whoopee. Things get far more interesting for tribes of bald monkeys when there's a concrete reward involved - mining rights, vast wealth, land, military superiority and so on. Sadly, the whole "space" thing is going to be a bit of a farce until there's profit of some kind to be had. *Then* it gets interesting. And not necessarily in a good way.
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