Here is the beginning of what I'm thinking. I don't know how detailed I'll get yet, but once I've got the overall design established I'll do a quick 3D model of it. I still quite like the more rocketship shape of my Photoshop effort, but this version looks more visually connected to the type of ships that might have preceded it all the way back to the DY-100s. I'm also thinking that the rings can be jettisoned if the space warp drive became irreparably inoperative. In that event the ship would have to resort to the sublight drive and the ring system would be so much deadweight.
was one of a number of designs on the drawing boards and slated for construction when Cochrane went public with his space warp discovery. Once the mathematics of Cochrane's theory appeared sound there was no shortage of interest in his work and it was rather easily fast-tracked to get a prototype into development. Within only a few years Cochrane's prototype began successful testing flights with only relatively minor glitches along the way. Yeah, I know this completely ignores FC and ENT, but I'm interested in a more credible backstory.
Starship designs including the Valiant
had been put on hold waiting to see if Cochrane's superimpeller space warp design proved successful. When it did prove successful a number of other prototypes began testing to study how well the design could be applied in practical terms. This, of course, included more powerful versions of the design as well as variations using Cochrane's theory as the starting point.
program was reconsidered and it's design adapted to fit one of the space warp designs that seemed among the most promising and so far one of the most successful. What the ring design seemed to lack in the promise of sheer possible speeds attainable it made up for by being more stable in operation. Construction of the Valiant
in Earth orbit began less than ten years after the first successful test flights of Cochrane's prototype.
It took four years to complete the Valiant
followed by two years of space trials before she was commissioned into service with U.E.S.P.A. During her redesign she was re-classed and pitched (rather grandiosely) to the public as a Galactic Survey Cruiser fully capable of exploring deep space and back. Before she was even commissioned a sister ship had already begun construction with a number of others already in planning (her sister ship, the Intrepid,
would launch two years later).
was not the first FTL ship to see service, but she was (at the time) the largest and most advanced. Whereas previous and other concurrent ships were somewhat limited in their function the Valiant
was designed for extended 2-3 year voyages before requiring refuelling and replenishing of supplies. The Valiant
would return from two deep space surveys before disappearing without explanation on her third voyage. Her sister ship, Intrepid,
continued throughout a long service life.
Although an incredible achievement and quite a sophisticated construct for its time the Valiant,
like many early FTL ships, wasn't really well suited for deep space exploration. Earth had not yet discovered the genuine hazards of deep space starlight. All manner of unknown phenomenon were waiting in the dark beyond the familiar space of Sol and the near star systems. Although technically sophisticated the early star drives (both FTL and sublight) as well as many onboard systems were not yet robust enough for many of the hazards encountered. Many flight personnel had really no idea what they could encounter. Yet these early spacers were often as undaunted as the first astronauts of the previous century that had dared to climb into little more than tin cans to step upon the Moon, Mars and other solar bodies.
Besides engineering that wasn't really yet robust enough for many unexpected hazards the first ships also ventured forth unarmed and with no real defensive measures to speak of. They were easy prey for predators like the Kzinti and others. And it would be another century before the development and widespread use of subspace radio, without which ships had no way to call for help or to give warning back home of what they encountered. Occasionally ship recorder markers were found or garbled messages received months to years or even decades after the fact. But it was aboard these early ships that humanity soon began to encounter other sentient races both friendly and hostile.