Location: The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
Re: Excelsior Technical Manual - Revived!
Thanks once more, kitsune
At infinite velocity, how would the navigational deflector and sensors work? They would have to be infinitely fast as well.
Well, like I explained (although perhaps not clearly enough - but that's okay because I can explain it more completely in the technical part) that it's not literal
infinite velocity - technically the ship briefly enters another 'transcendent' dimension, which it would then exit at a predesignated location. It's not literally everywhere at once, but in the state it briefly exists, it sort of is. In other words, it was conceived as a jump drive.
But technically they wouldn't need the deflector or sensors in the 'infinite' state. (In VGR's 'Threshold' the Shuttlecraft Cochrane
's sensors were able to record more information than they had space in the databanks for. If Excelsior
had actually managed the same feat, it would have probably happened to them too.) The deflector is only needed for 'conventional' warp travel, which explains what the line in TSFS 'all speeds available through transwarp drive' meant.
Once more, with feeling:
Chapter Six - Failure and Success
By the beginning of 2287, Excelsior had been fitted with three separate pairs of transwarp nacelles and two different transwarp cores. None of them managed to propel the ship to infinite velocity. Starfleet engineers began to believe that the problem laid in the dilithium used in the transwarp core, which began to disintegrate at higher warp frequencies. On each test run, the ship had reached speeds in excess of warp nine on the new warp scale, nearly tearing herself apart on several occasions. (Indeed, this was another separate problem – engineers began to doubt whether the ship would actually be able to maintain infinite velocity, if it was actually ever achieved, without destroying itself.) The engine core repeatedly began to overload and was shut down, repeatedly throwing the ship out of warp and requiring days of repairs. Each time the transwarp core could not be powered high enough to propel the ship beyond the transwarp barrier. Fortunately, there were no more core breaches. However, infinite velocity still remained beyond reach even through dozens of more flights. Captain Styles was completely embarrassed, and Doctor Wesley was at wits’ end. Both quietly admitted the same fear: Starfleet had engineered a disaster. Finally Starfleet had had enough.
To their embarrassment, Starfleet Command was forced to officially announce the failure of the Transwarp Development Project. The press had a field day. As quickly as they had sung the praises of the glorious new wonder ship, they had also torn apart its failures, suggesting incompetence at Starfleet was to blame for the project’s failure. The Federation Council was incensed both at the public response and at the waste of resources that had been poured into the project. It was clear that someone was going to take the fall for the project’s lack of success. Excelsior’s crew was reassigned. Though he was ultimately faultless, Captain Styles’s career was broken, and though he would continue service for the next two decades, he would never be offered command of a starship again. Doctor Tokogawa's career suffered little damage from the fiasco, as he had engineered many great successes before Excelsior, and would continue to do so for many years. The remainder of Doctor Wesley's career would be a quiet one. His lasting legacy would be the ultimate adaptation of his modified warp scale throughout the Federation. The name 'Eugene's Limit' would come to be the standard description for his unreachable inifinite velocity limit.
The Excelsior herself was another issue entirely. Starfleet had halted the construction of the next two Excelsior class ships, the first of which was well into the framing stage, and the second only into initial parts production, and Excelsior sat powered down in dock as the authorities at Starfleet Command debated what was to be done with her. Over the six months of limbo, Starfleet allowed some of her fittings to be stripped for use on other starships under construction or refit. Excelsior lay at Pier Three a broken, hollow vessel, the blackened echo of what might have been and a reminder of what was not. Even in defeat, Excelsior quickly became the principal source of dispute again. Many in Starfleet wanted to dismantle Excelsior, recycle her remaining components, and try to forget about this embarrassing chapter of their history while pursuing a new, more conventional replacement for the Constitution class. However, another part of Starfleet Command saw this plan as wasteful and still wanted to make the Excelsior class a reality. They pointed out that while Excelsior had failed to achieve infinite velocity, the speeds she had achieved were nonetheless impressive. This movement managed to convince Admiral Cartwright to save Excelsior. The Excelsior had been granted a second chance.
Therefore, by the end of 2287, Excelsior was again crawling with work crews beginning the task of refitting her with a standard warp drive and completing her fitting-out. The work to build a new warp drive large enough to accommodate such a big ship and then install it into an already completed ship required a great deal of ingenuity. Though publicly Starfleet wholly supported the effort, in private the brass was still uneasy and skeptical of the design’s viability, and planned to scrap the refit if any problems arose. Fortunately for Excelsior, none did. Remaining equipment designed specifically for the transwarp drive was stripped and a new warp core and nacelles were constructed, again under the supervision of Dr. Tokogawa. Construction of a 'conventional' warp drive on this scale was unprecedented. Fortunately, the engineers who had worked to create transwarp had learned many things from their failed efforts and made revolutionary technological breakthroughs which went into the production of the warp drives of Excelsior and all subsequent vessels. Excelsior also received a new, state-of-the-art bridge module, complete with her original dedication plaque.
In early January 2289, Excelsior was again launched from Dry Dock Seven, this time under power of standard warp propulsion and with far greater caution and apprehension. Under the guidance of her new flight test crew, Excelsior began the second systems review and shakedown of her lifetime. All of Excelsior’s systems performed to full Level Four Review satisfaction this time, surprising and relieving both Starfleet Command and the staff at San Francisco Yards. However, Excelsior became notorious for several unforeseen quirks that would become characteristic of this next phase of her life. First, she retained the awkward sublight maneuverability even at full impulse which had plagued her earlier trials. Her test captain commented that Excelsior “showed her size.” Additionally, at warp she seemed to be too powerful for her own good, continuing to threaten to tear herself apart under full power of her engines at speeds of warp nine (MCU) and above, developing a serious vibration problem evocative of those experienced by the old Constitution class. Nonetheless, Starfleet authorized the Excelsior for active duty as NCC-2000. Starfleet was so pleased with Excelsior’s shakedown results that it resumed construction on the two new Excelsiors that were already underway, and ordered the next three to follow contingent on the first three's performance. The Transwarp Development Project had proven a failure, yes, but the Excelsior Class Project was now a monumental success whose historic legacy was just beginning. She was ready for her first mission. Now all she needed was a crew.
Although the appointment of most of her senior staff was a rather quick matter, especially careful thought was put into the selection of Excelsior's new commanding officer. Excelsior was going to be at the forefront of executing Starfleet policy, so her Captain not only needed to be a skilled leader, but also a skilled diplomat. A number of prominent Starfleet Captains and Commanders shied away from the assignment for fear it would break their careers as it had Styles's. Starfleet soon found their perfect candidate in the form of Commander Hikaru Sulu. A veteran of Starfleet, Sulu had been one of the forerunners considered for command of Excelsior prior to the largely political appointment of Styles. Sulu was currently in service as helmsman aboard the Enterprise-A, and had long followed the Excelsior and Transwarp Development Projects with enthusiasm. When offered command of Excelsior, Sulu eagerly accepted and was granted a promotion to Captain. He also requested Lieutenant Commander Janice Rand, a friend and former Enterprise colleague, be transferred to Excelsior. She joined the bridge crew as communications officer. The Enterprise returned Sulu to Earth in early 2290, also seeing Excelsior off as she departed for her first mission. Time would tell whether Excelsior would ultimately prove worth the work and faith put in her.
"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it's not for the timid." - Q