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Engineer Thinks We Could Build a Real Starship Enterprise In 20 Years 589

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-boldly-go dept.
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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Engineer Thinks We Could Build a Real Starship Enterprise In 20 Years

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  • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Robotic mission with humans grown near the destination.

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

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

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

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 12, 2012 @12:24PM (#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?

        • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @12:54PM (#39979649)

          Actually it could be built for a lot less in my opinion. Much of the cost of these things is just lifting stuff up there, but once the technology of the Star Tram is rolled out that cost will be gone. I wouldn't start out building giant spacecraft, more like -> increased orbital presence -> asteroid mining -> orbital refineries and manufacturing -> nice spaceships -> comfy seats spaceships, taking about 30 years to complete the arc.

          • by postbigbang (761081) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @01:12PM (#39979795)

            Since when, has any project like this come in for under budget, adjusted for inflation, ever? People do trades on Wall Street that last for milliseconds. What makes you think they'll invest in something that has no guarantee of working, then takes perhaps 60yrs+ to have the first possible return on investment? No one does that these days, because all rewards must be immediate, apparently.

            An ion drive isn't even C+. The rate of return on investment is somewhere near what "Voldemort" did for JP Morgan Chase, except 500x as big-- to start.

            • What makes you think they'll invest in something that has no guarantee of working, then takes perhaps 60yrs+ to have the first possible return on investment? No one does that these days, because all rewards must be immediate, apparently.

              It almost sounds like you'd expect people to make an incredibly risky investment that probably won't pay out until they are dead, like someone has a social responsibility to do that or something.

            • People do trades on Wall Street that last for milliseconds. What makes you think they'll invest in something that has no guarantee of working, then takes perhaps 60yrs+ to have the first possible return on investment?

              you know i seem to remember another point when we sent out explores to to a new world without the guaranty of profit or of returns in the investors lifetime we later called it the Americas.

          • by Smallpond (221300)

            Actually it could be built for a lot less in my opinion. Much of the cost of these things is just lifting stuff up there,

            A sufficient quantity of guncotton and the exigent development of a large-bore cannon could resolve this issue post-haste.

            -- Jules Verne, 1865

        • by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Saturday May 12, 2012 @01:34PM (#39979973)

          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?

          Given the choice of blowing it on a Bernie Madoff or Goldman Sachs/Lehman Bros., I vote we build a starship. I'll clean the Jeffries Tubes.

          To !@#$ with Earth!

          • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @02:55PM (#39980577)

            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?

            Given the choice of blowing it on a Bernie Madoff or Goldman Sachs/Lehman Bros., I vote we build a starship. I'll clean the Jeffries Tubes.

            To !@#$ with Earth!

            Or one could feed and educate the poor. Just a thought.

            • What a dumb idea (Score:3, Insightful)

              by shiftless (410350)

              Why in the world would we do that?

              There is only so much room on this rock for humanity to spread out and multiply. Eventually, when resources are too short, wars happen....in this age, on a global scale.

              So how does helping more people survive and multiply help? You think these poor peoples from Africa are magically going to discover civilization just because you airlifted pallets of food in? You think that homeless bum on the corner is going to quit being a homeless bum cause you gave him a quarter? No, the

              • by Imrik (148191) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @04:56PM (#39981317) Homepage

                Oddly enough, helping more people survive tends to lower population growth.

              • by Immerman (2627577) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @05:55PM (#39981611)

                Huh, you mean the Africans chose to have their (largely democratic) governments overthrown and replaced with British pillaging engines? Then when the British were finally kicked out the governments weren't actually replaced, only the people at the helm. Actually changing government at an institutional level is not an easy thing, especially when the vast bulk of the populace lacks the education to understand how (method, if not magnitude) they're being exploited.

                But I'll agree, feeding people doesn't seem to help outside of short-term crises, in fact it can makes things worse by destroying local food markets and driving farmers out of business (potentially turning a short term crisis into an ongoing problem). Fair Trade exports have a related effect, why would a farmer grow food for the local market when he can grow much more profitable goods for the export market?

                Education on the other hand does seem to help, as does free access to birth control and family planning education. It's not that hard for someone living on the knife edge of poverty to understand that they can give a couple kids a much better life than you can a handful, but abstinence is a tough pill to swallow. Of course education especially has it's detractors - every tin-hat dictator and religious power monger realizes their power depends on keeping the populace ignorant and downtrodden, and many won't hesitate to stoop to violent rhetoric to incite the populace against their would-be liberators. Still, there's plenty of places where that's not the case, and as we do what we can there word tends to spread. You can only keep people under your thumb so long before they start noticing that their neighbors who did listen to those vile, evil, disease-spreading infidels are actually looking a lot healthier and happier than they used to.

              • History has shown (Score:5, Informative)

                by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @06:05PM (#39981667)

                History has shown that as populations become more educated and better nourished that birthrates actually decline. It seems that poverty promotes high birth rates. Maybe it has something to do with there being slim odds to pass ones genes on to the future generations, the more one procreates, the better the chances of that occuring.

                How one eliviates poverty and educates the poor is another issue. It has already been shown that drop shipping food doesn't work except in times of extreme famine. It has also been shown that giving financial aid to corrupt governments does not work either. But then again, neither does propping up corrupt regimes corporate and political reasons.

            • by ScentCone (795499)

              Or one could feed and educate the poor. Just a thought.

              We already do that. We could do a lot better at it if we weren't being attacked by the people who don't want us to. The folks who want, for example, to educate the poor in Afghanistan need military protection to avoid having their throats cut. The folks who want to deliver food to starving people in Somalia need military escorts to avoid having the food stolen by the Islamists that use those resources to power militias that are busy slaughtering and starving the people we're trying to help. Get the picture

        • by furytrader (1512517) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @01:59PM (#39980169)
          I'm sure glad SOMEONE found out a way to inject politics into this discussion. Where would we be without you? Thanks!
        • by History's Coming To (1059484) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @03:11PM (#39980705) Journal
          I was re-reading the Slashdot fusion power Q&A recently. The figure quoted to get the first generation of (barely) economically viable fusion reactors online was $80bn. The yearly spend by the US military is currently in the region of $650bn.

          I suspect that if we want starships all we have to do is find a way of not putting enormous amounts of money into fighting and making money and just use it to develop the required technologies. I suspect that if the worldwide military budget and manpower were devoted to the human species for just one year the we'd see similar leaps in technology as the 1940-1970 period. Engineering is easy, people are difficult.
          • by JimCanuck (2474366) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @03:49PM (#39980937)

            I suspect that if we want starships all we have to do is find a way of not putting enormous amounts of money into fighting and making money and just use it to develop the required technologies. I suspect that if the worldwide military budget and manpower were devoted to the human species for just one year the we'd see similar leaps in technology as the 1940-1970 period. Engineering is easy, people are difficult.

            I suspect that if we allowed the Military to R&D anything the hell they wanted WITHOUT political interference and gave them the budgets they had in the 1940-1970 time frame, as compared to both the Federal Spending, and GDP of each country, you'd find technology would progress just as fast.

            As far back as the creation of a mass producible silicon transistor, the DoD funded that effort by Shockley to the tune of 15 million dollars (currently would have been 150 million dollars due to inflation of the last 60 years) to get the transistor that was built out of germanium into silicon so that it would be capable of being used in the guidance computers of missiles. You know the same simple technology that without it, we wouldn't be having this discussion on this website today.

            Imagine the military throwing 150 million dollars to create the transistor today, people would go ape shit crazy and call it a total waste of money, the members of Congress would try to make sure that the money was spent in their interests regardless if their locations was not ideal, due to manpower knowledge or otherwise. And in the end the transistor would be another wasted experiment to the tune of a few times the initial 150 million outlay.

            World War 2 and the mass mobilization for war, and then the mobilization to dominate in a MAD situation with nuclear weapons is what drove the progress we had then in the first place, not picking roses in the garden and playing nice with each other.

            If only people were taught history, perhaps we would not have these kinds of discussions.

        • by 1s44c (552956)

          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?

          Exactly. Humanity needs this, it's a no brainer.

          Now will humanity actually try and build it or will humanity argue over nonsense instead?

      • by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Saturday May 12, 2012 @01:28PM (#39979919)

        Here's another man who needs to get laid...

        You say that like it's a bad thing. Chicks like to get laid too, you know?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 12, 2012 @01:45PM (#39980073)

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

        I oppose your anti-intellectualism. Being intelligent and doing creative work is not an indicator that something is wrong. Getting laid is not the most important thing in the world. Curing diseases, improving agriculture, materials science, space exploration, information technology and other worthy pursuits are done - traditionally - without a requirement of having sex.

        I know women that only fuck tall guys, sports stars, or cops. If women would make a rule to only fuck smart guys, maybe there would be less neanderthal bravado. I would expect this sort of attitude from Reddit or 4chan - but slashdot? Thats no bueno.

      • Here's another man who needs to get laid...

        ....says the man with the 3 digit ID.

      • At least he didn't do it in Minecraft.

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

        I was doing things like this when I was ten or so. Be careful with your suggestions.

    • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:34AM (#39979041) Homepage

      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.

      • by chispito (1870390) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @12:21PM (#39979385)
        Hence the statement there is no STARship with just an ion drive. Starships travel between the stars.
        • by HiThere (15173)

          Sorry, but there *could* be star ships with just an ion drive. It wouldn't be fast, but it could be done.

          The only thing it, you need the thing to support a large enough population to maintain a stable gene-pool, and you need the place to be comfortable enough that people are willing to live in it. (Fancy computer games help here a lot. So would various forms of virtual reality.) And maintaining civilization during the "voyage" becomes very important. (You lose it and everybody dies.) It becomes even m

      • 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.

        • I will defend the Saturn rockets, as designed by Werner Von Braun, as some of the best rockets that any nation could have come up with and were superior to anything ever built before and arguably even since.

          For myself, I think it is a crying shame that production on the Saturn rockets didn't continue. I'll even go out on a limb and suggest that for the money dumped on the Space Shuttle program alone, that if the same money had been spent on the Saturn rocket family (Saturn I and Saturn V) America would have sent more astronauts into space, would have built structures far more impressive than the International Space Station (Skylab was about half the volume of the ISS.... and that was sent up in one launch), and we would today have the capability of being able to return to the Moon whenever we felt like it.... and there never would have been a "spaceflight gap" like exists today.

          In other words, the whole Space Shuttle program is to me a total waste, where I can't think of a single thing that the Space Shuttle accomplished that the Saturn + Apollo vehicles could not have done except for bringing large object from space down to the Earth. Even that could have been done quite a bit cheaper with a purpose-designed vehicle made to fit on top of the Saturn V vehicle stack and didn't require a whole new launcher to be built. Continued production of the Saturn rocket could have included changes in metallurgy and electronics where I'm sure you would find the AGC replaced by much more modern computers and even an "Apollo" glass cockpit like the Shuttle finally ended up with, but that the changes would have been evolutionary.

          The test stand to build the F1 engines is now being used by SpaceX.... to make the Falcon 9 rockets. I'm glad that somebody is using that infrastructure for something positive.

      • by rossdee (243626)

        "there is no goal to reach the next star."

        That hardly makes it a "starship" then does it?

        A starship implies interstellar travel

        Starship Enterprise implies FTL capability. (And some sort of shuttles to land on planets, I don't think "transporters" are going to be practical for a long time.
        (And weapons should not be included, sincw any advanced species we meet are almost certainly going to be way ahead in technology...

        • by gmuslera (3436) *
          You don't need FTL to go to the closest star. But anyway, don't think that ship would be safe going there unless try to do it at night.
    • by msobkow (48369) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:36AM (#39979049) Homepage Journal

      "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."

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:41AM (#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.

        • 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.

          • by peragrin (659227)

            choppers have lower range, speed,and lower weapon loadouts.

            There are multiple different jobs with a multitude different tools to fulfill those jobs.

            Thinking one tool can do the job is the same as using a hammer to drive in screws. it might work but not very well.

            The F-22 is the cutting edge 2000's tech. The F-15 was cutting edge 70's tech. Would you use a 70's computer to run modern software?

            The F-35 is to replace the F-16, F-18, and Harrier jump jets.

            The shuttle launched more people into space cheaper

        • by flyingsquid (813711) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @12:00PM (#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.

      • by pcardoso (132954) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:45AM (#39979157) Homepage

        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?

      • 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'.

        • 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?

          Michele Bachmann has to prove how American she is somehow. What better way than max out the credit card on football?

      • by Teancum (67324)

        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?

    • by Patch86 (1465427) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @12:24PM (#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.

    • by hawguy (1600213) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @01:04PM (#39979721)

      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."

      Thanks to time-dilation as you approach the speed of light, if you can maintain 1G of acceleration, it doesn't take many generations of people to go to very far-flung places. You can travel 1500 light-years to the Orion Nebula in only 30 years of ship time. [daviddarling.info]. Of course 3000 years would have passed on earth by the time you get there. In just 60 years, you can travel 2 million light years. (which an observer on earth would see as 5 million years)

      A 1G ship can also be thought of as a (one-way) time-machine. Step inside the ship for a big circular voyage and when you step out 30 years later, 3000 years will have passed on Earth.

  • actually... (Score:3, Funny)

    by irussel (78667) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:27AM (#39978993)

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:28AM (#39978999)

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

  • by skipkent (1510) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:30AM (#39979009)

    I could not find this project on kickstarter

  • by dispersionrelation (2534290) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:32AM (#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.
    • by LordNimon (85072) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#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.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        Giving me 1 trillion dollars is also better than killing brown people with oil.

        How about we do that first?
    • by Twinbee (767046) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#39979069) Homepage
      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.
  • by sphealey (2855) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:33AM (#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

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#39979067)

    Technological reach is never the problem. Political reach is.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      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.

      • Forget warp engines for a moment. I'd like to see someone design a workable fusion reactor in a space faring vessel. Zero-G, constant shifts in inertia...what an engineering nightmare! OTOH, I suppose computers of the future will make that a much easier job.

    • 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.
  • by RichMan (8097) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:39AM (#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.

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

      • by RichMan (8097)

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

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @11:46AM (#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.

  • by comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @12:14PM (#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

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @12:19PM (#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.

  • by Dzimas (547818) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @12:21PM (#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.
  • by froggymana (1896008) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @04:09PM (#39981039)

    If only he could create a website incapable of being slashdotted.

  • by Johann Lau (1040920) on Saturday May 12, 2012 @05:24PM (#39981453) Homepage Journal

    What are we gonna tell the InterGalactic Council of Ministers the first time one of our teenage mothers throws one of her babies into the dumpster? Huh? How are we going to explain that to the space people? How are we going to let them know that our ambassador was only late for the meeting because his breakfast was cold and he had to spend half and hour punching his wife around the kitchen? And what are they gonna think when they find out that it's just a local custom that over 80,000,000 women in the third world had their clitoris' forcibly removed in order to reduce their sexual pleasures, so they won't cheat on their husbands? Can't you just sense how eager the rest of the universe is for us to show up?

    -- George Carlin

    The world is like a ride at an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it, you think that it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly coloured, and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question - is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us. They say 'Hey! Don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride.' And we...kill those people. Ha ha ha. 'Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride. SHUT HIM UP! Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and family. This just has to be real.' It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn't matter because: it's just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings, and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourselves off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here's what you can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defence each year, and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, for ever, in peace.

    -- Bill Hicks

    Now that is aspiration. But building an ugly spaceship for no purpose, just because it featured in a TV show that didn't even have much to say -- WTF? That is so lame, I actually got dumber just by coming across this story, kthxbye.

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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