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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies I-X

Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old August 23 2012, 08:16 PM   #256
RPJOB
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

There's no question that the crew of the Yorktown failed in their attempt to produce power with a solar sail. A solar sail is a means of propulsion, not power generation. A solar panel would create power. Sadly, the incompetent engineers were unsuccessful and everyone died.


YORKTOWN CAPTAIN: (on viewscreen) Our systems engineers are trying to deploy a makeshift solar-sail. We have high hopes that this will, if successful, generate power to keep us alive.
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Old August 24 2012, 09:27 AM   #257
Timo
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

The nautical analogy is probably apt: if you are dying of thirst in the middle of a calm ocean, the proper way to go is to rig a sail.

That is, without extra rigging, the sail produces motion. When properly rigged, it collects rainwater for you.

By properly rigging a solar sail, our not-quite-heroes could quite plausibly produce power for their life support systems, e.g. by using the sail as a giant mirror...

Naturally, motion would also save you if you are dying of thirst in the middle of a calm ocean, or of cold in the middle of empty space. So, a solar sail could generate motive power to save the lives of the crew...

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Old August 24 2012, 10:11 PM   #258
RPJOB
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

The size of a solar sail necessary to move a Constitution class starship is very unlikely considering they didn't even have power for full lights, let alone enough to manufacture hundreds of square kilometers of solar sail and thousands of kilometers of rigging.

That part of the film does show that the Saratoga was probably lost too, seeing as the probe is past the Yorktown and their power wasn't restored like we saw on Spacedock. The probe must have to do something that undoes whatever it did to disrupt power systems. I'd say that both the Saratoga and the Yorktown were both lost, perhaps others as well.
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Old August 26 2012, 01:07 PM   #259
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

The biggest problem with using a sail to move a ship in space has less to do with size. But something more akin to the solar winds. Which in interstellar space would be virtually non-existant.
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Old August 26 2012, 07:41 PM   #260
Timo
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

...Why assume the Yorktown would be in interstellar space, though?

manufacture hundreds of square kilometers of solar sail
One might suppose that future technologies capable of creating this surface area would also result in it being stowable. That is, the sail would be sitting in some corner of a cargo hold, in a cube measuring about two meters per side, and just waiting to be thrown overboard and pumped up with electric charge to force a neat and tidy unfold.

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Old August 28 2012, 12:51 AM   #261
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

Timo wrote: View Post
...Why assume the Yorktown would be in interstellar space, though?

manufacture hundreds of square kilometers of solar sail
One might suppose that future technologies capable of creating this surface area would also result in it being stowable. That is, the sail would be sitting in some corner of a cargo hold, in a cube measuring about two meters per side, and just waiting to be thrown overboard and pumped up with electric charge to force a neat and tidy unfold.

Timo Saloniemi
Interesting thought but not in this case.

YORKTOWN CAPTAIN: (on viewscreen) Our systems engineers are trying to deploy a makeshift solar-sail. We have high hopes that this will, if successful, generate power to keep us alive.
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Old August 28 2012, 02:45 PM   #262
Timo
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

Good point.

As for the feasibility of non-makeshift sails, TAS "Practical Joker" shows a comparable structure - the inflatable decoy starship. Admittedly, the ship wasn't exactly deprived of power when manufacturing the decoy, but she did achieve this without human help, and without full replicator technology, suggesting that some resources and materials would be available off the shelf.

(Unless we assume the decoy was an existing, stowed item - as in the novel How Much For Just a Planet? - even though our heroes don't recognize it and even though it's not a tactically realistic decoy but one twenty times the natural size.)

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Old August 28 2012, 06:20 PM   #263
Ronald Held
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

Not much energy could be collected by a solar sail in interstellar space, or far from a star compared to the power needed to minimally run a starship.
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Old August 29 2012, 08:30 AM   #264
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

The pint is that a solar sail doesn't generate power. It could be used as a mirror to concentrate sunlight onto a solar panel but a solar sail is just a very large, very thin reflector.

"There has been some theoretical speculation about using molecular manufacturing techniques to create advanced, strong, hyper-light sail material, based on nanotube mesh weaves, where the weave "spaces" are less than half the wavelength of light impinging on the sail. While such materials have so far only been produced in laboratory conditions, and the means for manufacturing such material on an industrial scale are not yet available, such materials could mass less than 0.1 g/m²,[27] making them lighter than any current sail material by a factor of at least 30. For comparison, 5 micrometre thick Mylar sail material mass 7 g/m², aluminized Kapton films have a mass as much as 12 g/m²,[21] and Energy Science Laboratories' new carbon fiber material masses 3 g/m².[26]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail#Materials

A solar sail is going to produce no power on it's own. Regardless of the improper terminology, a solar sail big enough to move a starship would be many, many kilometers on a side. That's also based on the reflectivity of the material. A makeshift sail would hardly be optimal. Also, the strength of the solar wind of the star. It may move them close to a habitable planet in the system so the escape pods can land, but unless it was already very close the time would be on the order of weeks or months even with a huge sail. Hardly something that's would be usable when you don't even have enough power to run the lights.
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Old February 19 2013, 04:42 AM   #265
Lance
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

On reflection, I've come to see the 1701-A as having been a kind of 'provisional ship', a intermediate and completely unplanned for step that Starfleet took only because of the exceptional circumstances with the Earth probe in STIV. This might also help explain why (mistaken registry of the USS Yamato aside), we never see another Starship carry over a previous registry number with a prefix.

Here's the timeline as I see it:

In STIII, Admiral Morrow says the Enterprise is to be mothballed, and while we aren't shown it, he probably also clues Kirk in on the Excelsior program and the plans for a new Enterprise while he's at it. Due to the thing with Spock's katra, Kirk and crew steal the 1701, blow it up over genesis, get Spock back, and are exiled to Vulcan. When they return to Earth, save it from the whale probe, and the various theories about needing to punish Kirk but also (outwardly) reward him see him and crew being assigned to an unplanned Enterprise: given the registry 1701-A to indicate its kind of "unofficial" status. Kirk and crew are then effectively off active duties, although they are occasionally reunited and sent off on special missions together where their unique expertise is advantageous (Nimbus III, convoy for the Klingon chancellor). Enterprise-B is under active construction by this point, so when the call comes through that Starfleet wants to recall 1701-A, it isn't entirely a surprise to the crew: they've all been effectively off 'active duty' for a while anyway, and the newer Excelsior Class Starship Enterprise is probably very much a known quantity by then. The decision is also taken to use the registry 1701-B for the new ship (as a nod to the unique legacy of the Enterprise -- maybe before the Earth probe saga it would have been launched with a different registry number somewhere in the 2000s), something which becomes a tradition for all the subsequent ones as well.

What do we think? It seems like a plausible chain of events to me.
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Old February 19 2013, 12:16 PM   #266
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

I think much like the Sovereign class version, it was built under a different name then changed based on events.

I never understood why Starfleet would have other Excelsior class ships under construction when they still hadn't proven that the prototype was workable?
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Old February 19 2013, 12:40 PM   #267
Timo
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

We never learn that the prototype would not have been workable. All we know is that it hasn't broken the old speed records of the Enterprise quite yet when the two ships meet in ST3:TSfS.

And considering how extreme some of those records were, I don't wonder a bit... The Excelsior under transwarp drive could have already been flown at speeds a hundred times faster than the fastest competing starship, excluding Kirk's ship which was an unfair competitor for having gotten assistance from superior lifeforms and weird phenomena.

The idea that something about the Excelsior or the transwarp drive failed to pan out is completely external to aired Star Trek. On the other hand, nothing is said or shown to establish that ships of the Excelsior design would have required transwarp to be feasible. Perhaps NX-2000 was just a random ship of that class diverted from the main production run for this rare propulsion experiment, while others were being completed with conventional engines for conventional purposes.

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Old February 19 2013, 01:47 PM   #268
BillJ
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

The Search for Spock wrote:
UHURA: Would you look at that?
Indicating its a ship class she has never seen before.

The Search for Spock wrote:
KIRK: My friends, the great experiment. The Excelsior, ready for trial runs.
Indicating that it hasn't been out testing those engines yet.

The Search for Spock wrote:
KIRK: Tut tut, Mister Scott. Young minds. Fresh ideas. ...Be tolerant.
This would seem to indicate the ship/class is new.

Why would they quit building their workhorse class (Constitution), when their envisioned work horse hasn't even been through trial runs yet? And if the Excelsior had already been flying at incredible speeds, why would hey abandon the project because of a little sabotage?

I stand by my assessment that the 1701-A is a new build that was constructed under another name, much like the 1701-E.
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Old February 19 2013, 01:53 PM   #269
C.E. Evans
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

BillJ wrote: View Post
I never understood why Starfleet would have other Excelsior class ships under construction when they still hadn't proven that the prototype was workable?
There likely was nothing wrong with the Excelsior as far as its basic spaceframe and systems was concerned. The switch of the ship's registry to NCC-2000 likely signalled the point the design went into mass production and it may have happened five or more years before Star Trek VI (enough time for Starfleet to develop a variant design), IMO.
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Old February 19 2013, 01:55 PM   #270
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Re: The operational status of NCC 1701-A...?

C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
BillJ wrote: View Post
I never understood why Starfleet would have other Excelsior class ships under construction when they still hadn't proven that the prototype was workable?
There likely was nothing wrong with the Excelsior as far as its basic spaceframe and systems was concerned. The switch of the ship's registry to NCC-2000 likely signalled the point the design went into mass production and it may have happened five or more years before Star Trek VI (enough time for Starfleet to develop a variant design), IMO.
I would think that the innards would have to be redesigned to integrate a standard warp reactor vs. the transwarp drive variation.
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