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Old May 5 2009, 09:41 PM   #229
Praetor
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Re: Excelsior Technical Manual - Revived!

And now, without further ado:
The following was written in 2290 following the Excelsior's operational refit after the failure of the Transwarp Development Project to familiarize new crew and Starfleet brass alike with the new ship. It describes the ship in its original condition as of launch in that year, and compares the ship's initial fittings in 2284 to the equipment later installed for her service career. Appendices follow outlining the evolution of the design in the subsequent years, 'cousins' developed from the class, and a list of noteworthy ships. In her exhibition as part of the Fleet Museum's collection, Excelsior has been cosmetically restored to her 2290 status. This summary is one of several historic documents prepared for display at the Excelsior Exhibit.

Excelsior Class Technical Familiarization Resource


Structural Overview

The Excelsior’s design drew upon the now-traditional primary/secondary hull configuration first introduced in the Daedalus class of the late twenty-second century, implemented with the goal of using compartmentalization to increase shipboard safety and survivability in the event of a systems-wide failure or similar catastrophe. The Excelsior’s space-frame consists of five integrated main assemblies: the primary hull (saucer section), and the engineering section which consists of the interconnecting dorsal “neck,” secondary hull, warp nacelle pylon assembly, and twin warp nacelles. Each sub-assembly was constructed separately and then mated in drydock in synchronus Earth orbit. Overall vessel dimensions are as follows: Length, 467.05 meters; Beam, 177.21 meters; Height, 74.93 meters.

The primary hull, more commonly known as the “saucer section,” houses the main command facilities, including the main and auxiliary bridges and the main computer core, as well as crew accommodations and support facilities including food preparation and laundry systems. It also contains the main dorsal and ventral sensor platforms, and the ten primary phaser banks. A block-like section extending aft along the longitudinal axis of the saucer section also houses the impulse reaction system and upper intermix chamber, which extends downward towards the deflector alcove in the secondary hull. Overall saucer dimensions are as follows: Length, 198.51 meters; Beam, 177.21 meters; Height, 30.71 meters.

The interconnecting dorsal/interhull is one of the components of the engineering section, the so-called 'neck' of the ship where the saucer section mates to the secondary hull. An oddity in Federation starship design, the interhull is anachronistically referred to as the 'interconnecting dorsal' due to the structure's origins as a sort of dorsal fin of the secondary hull structure, somewhat analogous to the fins of many cetacean animals. In the history of starship design, the dorsal was originally conceived as a means of safely delineating the command/habitat from potentially hazardous engineering/supply systems, much as the warp nacelle pylons allow the warp nacelles to be mounted at a comfortable distance from the rest of the ship. The Excelsior's interhull was riginally fitted with transwarp field cooling, monitoring and refinement equipment (its very horseshoe-shaped horizontal cross-sections defined by warp field dynamics), it is now primarily unused space, save the intermix chamber which spans it vertically, and related equipment. Auxiliary crew quarters and freight space can be found here, along with inertial damper systems. The unused space has been repurposed for projected harware upgrades during the ship's operational lifetime.

The secondary hull itself is the main component of the engineering section. It is roughly cylindrical, with a flattened dorsal, stretched eliptical horizontal cross-section and roughly half-circular vertical cross-section. The concept of the engineering section was originally conceived to safely separate potentially hazardous engineering and supply systems from the primary habitat and control areas of the ship, and as such houses main engineering and the primary warp power systems, including the antimatter storage systems, as well as the deflector dish. The lower section of the secondary hull is a mostly hollow structure (owing to a compromise between the demands of ship's power versus mass), it houses the Main Cargo Storage Facility, the Shuttlebay One module. Shuttlebay Two (at the aft fantail of the dorsal plane), and the four torpedo tubes (two fore, two aft) are found aft. Overall secondary hull dimensions are: Length, 271.79 meters; Beam, 58.76 meters; Height, 43.93 meters.

The warp nacelle pylon assembly is composed of an elliptical dome from which the twin nacelle struts extend, its shape is streamlined for greater warp performance. The dome houses the main plasma manifold and EPS system, as well as various engineering support systems. Continuing the Starfleet practice of compartmentalization to increase safety, and the entire unit may be jettisoned from the remainder of the ship in an emergency. (Ideally, this would occur at subluminal speeds. Survivability from a nacelle ejection while at warp is dubious.) The massive twin warp nacelles are mounted securely atop the twin support pylons. They are roughly shaped like truncated squares in cross-section, and taper to their aft ends. Overall warp nacelle unit dimensions are as follows: Length, 247.08 meters, Beam, 17.70 meters; Height, 20.33 meters.


Deck One (A-Deck)

Deck one is a fairly large space extending across the very top of the primary hull spar aft towards the impulse engines. However, the only habitable volume of the deck consists of the main bridge/briefing room area at the front, which is sunken nearly two meters into a protective ring structure. The bridge is an interchangeable module designed for swapout at regular refit intervals to facilitate easier control system upgrades. In keeping with Starfleet tradition, the bridge is a circular room lined with various instrument stations necessary for the operation of a modern starship.

The uninhabitable space of Deck One contains numerous systems. The protective ring around the bridge module contains auxiliary battery power and life support systems for emergency use. A bar extending aft from this unit contains the primary high-gain subspace antenna, and is flanked on either side by the uppermost portions of the dorsal sensor platform within raised hull flats. Excelsior is equipped with an extensive suite of all modern sensor palettes.

Aft of this at the deck’s rear are the upper housing for the twin deflection crystals that top the intermix chamber and the upper impulse systems, including the radiative cooling unit baffles and fins. When she was originally launched, Excelsior mounted a single, large deflection crystal atop her intermix chamber. The deflection crystal allows warp power to be directly channeled to supplement the impulse system. However, flight tests indicated that a single large crystal was prone to developing potentially dangerous micro-fractures under high load, so the ship’s 2287 refit and warp core replacement saw the installation of a pair of smaller, more conventional deflection crystals capable of the same workload. These units have proven far more reliable and stable than the previous configuration, although some future Excelsior class ships are expected to retain the single-unit design if further research makes it workable as is theorized.


Main Bridge

Almost all modern Starfleet ships are equipped with ejectable bridge modules, designed to be easily replaced to extend the operational lifetime of a starship, and doubling as a last-ditch lifeboat for the command crew in the event of a shipwide catastrophic systems failure. According to Starfleet regulations, the bridge module is to only be ejected once all hands have been already ordered to lifeboats. Starfleet does not favor the antiquated notion of 'the captain going down with the ship.' The Excelsior is no exception.

The bridge module originally equipped to the Excelsior at her commissioning in 2284 was quite different from the one installed during the 2287 refit for her operational career, but the two still retain similar Starfleet characteristics. The 2284 bridge module was designed around the operation of the transwarp drive. It did not contain an observation lounge as on the new module, but was still an efficient control space. The room was a perfect circle, with a single turbolift directly aft and a large viewscreen forward, comprising nearly one-third of the room’s wall space, with small secondary exit doors to either side (leading to a surrounding corridor). The remaining wall space was dedicated to control consoles. A “pedestal” in the center of the room mounted (for the first time) separate helm and navigation consoles, with Helm at starboard and navigation at port. The Captain’s chair was directly aft of these consoles.

The Captain’s chair, and indeed all the bridge chairs, was quite unusual and characteristic of Excelsior’s early career. They all sported large inertial restraint arms that some crew nicknamed “bear arms,” so described because in transwarp flight these massive arms were programmed to automatically grab and securely hold the seat’s occupant. Also for the first time, Starfleet adopted the use of touch-screen “Okudagram” control surfaces, so named after their inventor, Dr. Michael Okuda, a computer systems analyst at the ASDB. These controls were far more sophisticated and versatile than their push-button predecessors, and could be reconfigured for specific needs far more easily. Okudagram interfaces evolved in sophistication quickly and soon became the fleet-wide standard. “Bear arm” chairs, however, heralded the end of physical seating restraints in favor of interwoven gravity cushions and better intertial damper systems. (Indeed, the practical usefulness of seat restraints aboard starships is now felt to be dubious at best.)

The Excelsior’s 2287 refit and transwarp drive removal prompted the replacement of the 2284 bridge module, and Starfleet took the opportunity to equip her with something even more modern and cutting-edge. The new module retained the circular dome-shape for the bridge with Okudagram touch-screens, but is distinctly different from its predecessor. Two turbolift stations service this bridge, one each at port and starboard. The viewscreen remains virtually unchanged, but is slightly smaller, and gone are the forward corridor access doors.

Standard configuration for the stations lining the bridge walls include: engineering support, propulsion, communications, and tactical monitoring at port; three dedicated science stations and a small master control monitoring station at starboard. The upgraded Captain’s chair and helm and nav consoles retained nearly the same locations on a platform level with the perimeter stations. A small table was installed in front of the Captain’s chair (at Captain Sulu's request) for his convenience. An alcove at the aft of the bridge houses the new master situation display, a graphic of the ship that allows the Captain to view the ship’s status at a glance over his shoulder. Doors flank the MSD, which allow access to the new briefing room/observation lounge, and an adjacent head for the bridge crew’s use.


Briefing Room/Observation Lounge

The new observation lounge provides an unparalleled view of the aft portion of the ship and the warp nacelles, and was designed to allow the senior staff a more convenient location for mission briefings. It features a long, slightly curved table fitted with computer access systems and chairs for each member of the senior staff. Each end wall is fitted with a fairly sizable viewscreen and data interface for briefing sessions. The inner wall is decorated with art and other personal decorations provided by the Captain. The Captain may also use the room as a ready room if so desired to relax when situations require his proximity to the bridge.


Deck Two (B Deck)

Deck two is an almost fully habitable deck that forms the uppermost part of the primary hull dorsal spar. It features the centrally-located top of the main computer data transfer trunk, where it mates with the bottom of the bridge module. The trunk spans the space from the main processors on deck seven up to the bottom of the bridge module at the top of deck two, facilitating rapid data transfer to key command areas in the saucer. Additional data transfer conduits branch from the central trunk like branches of a tree, eventually stepping down to transfer conduits mere millimeters in diameter where they meet control interfaces. The ship’s fourteen science labs are located on this deck, adjoining the computer core trunk, where they are directly fed data by the dorsal sensor platform above. In addition, quarters for VIPs such as diplomats and admirals are found on this level. In a small uninhabitable section at the front of this deck are additional sensor modules for the dorsal sensor platform, with related systems.

The top of the main stairwell is located aft. The stairwell provides auxiliary access to all the ship's decks in the event of a turbolift system failure or emergency evacuation. Further aft is the lower deflection crystal housing, with a dedicated monitoring room. The crystals shed brilliant patterns of light across the room’s bulkheads as they surge with raw power, just atop the warp intermix chamber. Aft of this is the upper part of the multi-level impulse reaction system, including the upper parts of the fusion reactors and coolings systems, and the twin engine assemblies and exhaust units.


VIP Quarters

These quarters provide accommodation for visiting officers, ambassadors and their spouses, and Federation government officials, among others. Each stateroom is composed of two areas that are separated by a retractable partition. The room's entrance opens into the sleeping area, which is generally outfitted with two twin beds. A translucent door leads into the bathroom area, which features both a sonic shower and a jacuzzi tub, as well as an adjacent clothes closet.

The other half of the stateroom is a work and living area. A library computer and work desk are provided for guest use, for which instructions are provided. A circular dining booth is provided for guests who prefer to eat alone or work privately during their meal. A viewscreen station stands against one wall. Here, guests may contact their home worlds by subspace radio, if necessary, or may simply choose from thousands of entertainment files from the ship's computers for viewing. A small storage closet is provided for those with luggage or small personal cargo which cannot be stored in the cargo decks. Personal items may be stored on a bookshelf above the beds, or in a set of roll-top cabinets in the living area wall. A food slot is also provided for guest convenience.


Impulse Reaction Systems

Impulse engines are the main form of propulsion at sublight speeds aboard a starship; they are used for travel within a solar system or areas of space where warp drive can not function. The engine is a basic fusion system with vectored exhaust, not unlike a solid propellant rocket of the past. The standard speed for impulse power is .25c, but engines can propel a ship into the .8c range at the cost of time dilation effects.

Impulse engines have changed little since their inception over 100 years ago. The impulse engines found on Excelsior are made up of three main parts, and are the largest ever constructed. First is the impulse reaction chamber, where deuterium slush is fed in and a fusion reaction takes place. Excelsior has ten fusion reactors, five per engine. Each of these units can be ejected in an emergency. The plasma created by the fusion process is then fed into the second stage of the impulse engine, the accelerator/generator. During space flight mode the plasma is accelerated by the second stage and passed onto the third stage. The A/G can also use part of the impulse engines' power to supply ships systems by feeding the plasma into the ship's EPS lines. The engines are able to drive the ship and provide power simultaneously if needed. Conversely, warp power from the intermix chamber can be channeled through the deflection crystals into the impulse engines to provide power for them. The final stage of the impulse engine is the vectored exhaust director. This stage directs the flow of the impulse engine exhaust to allow free movement of the ship on any axis.

Traveling at high impulse speed, greater then .25c, has a price. Since it is sub-warp speed, general relativity still applies. As impulse speed increases past .75c, time slows down aboard the ship and passes faster in the rest of the universe. Starfleet regulations specify the avoidance of high impulse velocity except in extreme circumstances. Current research into mass-reduction impulse systems, akin to low-power warp nacelles, could one day provide a means of reducing these relativistic effects, but true breakthroughs in the area are likely fifty years or more away.
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