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Old October 30 2007, 11:17 AM   #13
A Different Kind of Asshole
Location: An "American" in Friedrichshafen, Deutschland
Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier

Timo said:
If the impulse drive is a pure "field drive", and uses one of those ubiquitous rows of doughnut coils, it probably can work pretty much as well forward and aft, but might have limitations in other directions. If the drive is an "augmented rocket", then there's bound to be a bias towards forward flight since the nozzles always point aft (or aft and up - what's with that?).
They were strictly Newtonian propulsion systems in TOS and TMP. If I may quote from the Sacred Codex, namely Gene Roddenberry's Writer & Director's Guide (Bible) dated April 17, 1967:

"The Enterprise has a secondary propulsion system. These are impulse power engines (same principle as rocket power), located at the rear of the "saucer section". Vessel speed, when using the impulse engine is, of course, less than the speed of light. In the case of total failure of all engine power sources, the vessel's gravitational and life support systems can be switched to battery power, with full-load capacity of about one week."
Of course, "impulse" in classical mechanics is simply a vector quantity defined by the time integral of a force acting on a test particle - or in this particular instance a space vehicle - over a finite time interval, so their mode of operation should have been self-evident to viewers with an IQ > 65. As for ST:TMP, I will quote the relevant paragraph from the German language edition of Gene Roddenberry's ST:TMP novelization that was translated by the film's technical advisor, Jesco von Puttkamer (Star Trek: Der Film, Moewig Verlag, 1980):

"Scott wandte sich halb um und beobachtete das vertraute Glühen im Wandler. Er vernahm ein dumpfes pulsierendes Dröhnen, wie das Donnergrollen eines Gewitters - ein Geräusch, das ihn irgendwie and die Dudelsack-Klänge seiner Heimat erinnerte. Bei der gegenwärtigen Drosselstufe gelangten nur winzige Mengen von Materie und Antimaterie in die Wandler-Kammern, doch die Annihilation einer nur nadelkopfgroßen Materiemasse trieb die Enterprise mit ebensoviel Energie an, wie sie von tausend alten Wasserstoff-Fusionstriebwerken erzeugt wurde. Das Impulsestreibwerke arbeitete nach dem Newtonschen Rückstoßprinzip, und man verwendete es für Geschwindigkeiten unterhalb der Lichtschwelle."
For those who do not read German a moderately understandable translation can be generated via Google Language Tools.

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