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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Tech

Trek Tech Pass me the quantum flux regulator, will you?

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Old June 23 2013, 08:15 PM   #1
SarYehudah
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Ordinance and Munitions

I am wondering how weaponry, specifically ship weaponry works in star trek. STID showed those missiles which (which Khan stupidly put his men in). Are weapons powered from a ships warp core/reactor directly? if so, are the essentially 'unlimited' unless they burn out the fuel source? Are some this way and others based on actual munitions? I know that small arms do have limited ammunition, but I am not sure what is actually used as ammo for ship weapons.
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Old June 23 2013, 08:43 PM   #2
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

Phasers, disruptors and other beam weapons are armed directly from the warp reactor. They can use emergency batteries though (TWOK Scotty mentions the batteries being the only power available, but could still give Kirk "a few shots").

Photon and Quantum torpedoes are effectively "missiles", a physical warhead with micro-warp engines for propulsion. They contain matter/anti-matter, but require to be powered to arm them. Their ammunition is limited, and the possibility of running out of them has been mentioned (TNG The Pegasus, Star Trek Nemesis). DS9's Starship Down also shows that Dominion torpedoes are a physical, rather than energy, weapon. The fact that Scotty and Kirk never discussed photons in TWOK at that point indicates that perhaps the arming power for a photon is considerably more than to fire a phaser-bank.

In theory, new torpedoes can be manufactured, but the matter/anti-matter warhead may be impossible.
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Old June 23 2013, 08:54 PM   #3
SarYehudah
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

Why is it that all of the weapons appear as energy? Also, what exactly was the new weapons that Marcus had constructed by Khan in STID?

nvm the the science question. i deleted it and am reading about it.
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Old June 23 2013, 09:04 PM   #4
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

I still want to know about Garth of Izars super chemical explosive. I'm thinking that was supposed to be JJs new torpedoes, with anti-matter to boot.

Chemical explosives and bullets were seen in DS9, when O'Brian wanted to set off a charge. I'm thinking transperiodic elements.
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Old June 23 2013, 09:08 PM   #5
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

Anti-matter are simply particles at the atomic level that have an opposite charge and spin to normal matter. Mixing matter and anti-matter particles can cause an explosion of energy, this reaction is the basis for the main Star Trek power source (e.g. the warp reactor), and therefore the key to producing the vast energy required for warp flight.

This same principle is used in photon and quantum torpedoes, but the energy is an uncontrolled release, that causes an explosion.

The reason for photons appearing to be energy is a "cheat", in actuality they, and probably even phaser beams, would be invisible to the naked eye. But, just like sound and explosions in space, they are used as the audience expects to see something.

Due to the animation effects, it was assumed by most that photons were an energy weapon until we saw the physical torpedo casing in TWOK.
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Old June 23 2013, 09:36 PM   #6
Timo
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

I still want to know about Garth of Izars super chemical explosive.
I doubt he had any. He was simply crazy as a cuckoo. Nothing we saw suggested anything "super". It's a mystery to the audience why Governor Cory would confess to believing that Garth has a superexplosive...

In theory, new torpedoes can be manufactured, but the matter/anti-matter warhead may be impossible.
It's difficult to see why a starship, especially a TNG era one, would have any difficulty manufacturing anything. A dedicated factory might just do it a bit faster and more efficiently... Whereas a seriously damaged starship like Voyager would struggle with the task, at least until her replicators got repaired.

But DS9 "Tribunal" features a plot where the Maquis are framed for the theft of (empty) photon torpedo warheads, suggesting that everybody believes these to be worth stealing. Of course, this happens before the Maquis acquire industrial replicators (they make a big effort to steal those in "For the Cause", rather suggesting they had none previously), so perhaps there is some difficulty to manufacturing a working torpedo warhead.

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Old June 23 2013, 11:05 PM   #7
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

Manufacturing a torpedo itself is almost certainly no problem, but it's whether they can replicate anti-matter easily.
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Old June 23 2013, 11:38 PM   #8
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

I've always wondered whether torpedoes come "pre-loaded" with matter and anti-matter or whether they are fuelled from a starships' own supply.

I think general consensus is that they are "pre-loaded" since warheads are mentioned, but wouldn't that mean that the torpedo itself would need a constant power supply to maintain anti-matter containment?

would that mean the torpedoes have a "shelf life"? meaning that if you stuck a bunch of photon torpedoes in reserve on some sort of depot planet, would they eventually just detonate on their own once their "batteries" died?
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Old June 24 2013, 01:10 AM   #9
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

Mister_Atoz wrote: View Post
I've always wondered whether torpedoes come "pre-loaded" with matter and anti-matter or whether they are fuelled from a starships' own supply.

I think general consensus is that they are "pre-loaded" since warheads are mentioned, but wouldn't that mean that the torpedo itself would need a constant power supply to maintain anti-matter containment?

would that mean the torpedoes have a "shelf life"? meaning that if you stuck a bunch of photon torpedoes in reserve on some sort of depot planet, would they eventually just detonate on their own once their "batteries" died?
That's something I've never actually considered before!

Certainly, anti-matter containment is a major issue on starships (anti-matter containment fails=ship goes kablooey!).

The answer I suppose is that they do indeed possess their own internal power for magnetic bottles containing the anti-matter, or maybe a stasis field, which is either periodically recharged by the armourer, or hooked up to internal power while in storage. This could be a considerable power drain, especially if carrying 200+ torps.

This would also reinforce Scotty's reluctance to accept the new torpedoes without knowing more about them in STID.
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Old June 24 2013, 02:29 AM   #10
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

I'm inclined to think it would make sense for them to have their own power source, given the level of miniaturization that seems apparent in Trek. Whether that would affect them in terms of having a potential "shelf life" I'm not sure, but it's an interesting idea.
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Old June 24 2013, 02:53 AM   #11
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

Nit: The word is ordnance (no i).
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Old June 24 2013, 03:04 PM   #12
SarYehudah
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

Is it possible that ordnance would look only like energy despite having a physical delivery device? This is how it works in Star Wars. Missiles and Bombs look only like energy but are physical devices that need to be resupplied.
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Old June 24 2013, 10:44 PM   #13
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

I always figured that the glow around torpedoes was just an overloaded shield or engine field. It certainly looks like the overpowered Orion ship from pre-TOSR: http://tos.trekcore.com/gallery/albu..._Babel_272.JPG
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Old June 25 2013, 02:16 PM   #14
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

Mister_Atoz wrote: View Post
would that mean the torpedoes have a "shelf life"?
I ran into a similar idea in a story somewhere. Instead of containment batteries running out, an orbital neutron cannon could be used to detonate nuclear warheads. It would be extremely difficult to get a neutron beam to remain focused through the atmosphere, but the idea was intriguing. Murray Leinster's OPERATION TERROR had a similar scenario where possessing a weapon was dangerous.

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I always figured that the glow around torpedoes was just an overloaded shield or engine field.
That was my interpretation after seeing the physical torpedoes in TWoK. Photon torpedoes might be tiny warp engines red-lined far beyond the safety limit since they are on a one-way, "suicide" mission. Pushing them hard might also make them unavoidably fast. Just don't program them to arm the moment they are launched.
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Old July 2 2013, 10:40 PM   #15
Timo
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Re: Ordinance and Munitions

I doubt replication of antimatter would ever be much of an issue. You probably can't run a replicator unless you have antimatter to fire it up in the first place... In which case it makes no sense to replicate the stuff, even though replicators apparently can create anything and everything. (However, there's TNG "Survivors" where the Uxbridges receive a portable replicator the size of a dishwasher, and don't appear to receive a lifetime supply of antimatter to accompany it...)

Starships would have plenty of antimatter in their main fuel tanks for arming the torpedoes at the last possible moment. More probably, though, the antimatter would first go to storage pods next to the loaders (such as the pods around Deck 11 on Kirk's ship that got "buckled" when Klingon weapons slammed right next to Kirk's torpedo launcher in "Errand of Mercy"), and only then to the individual torpedoes. But the connection between the explosive material of torpedoes and the main fuel of starships makes it easy to understand why so many of the hero ships would have their big torpedo launchers right next to the main reactor...

We know that torpedo yield can be selected just before launch (we see this happen in episodes like "Redemption II"), and it stands to reason that this happens by injecting varying amounts of antimatter. Of course, there are other alternatives: perhaps the loader selects a suitable torpedo, with a suitable (pre-loaded) warhead, from the rack just before launch, or perhaps a standard amount of (pre-loaded) antimatter can be made to explode with varying yields by adjusting the intermix. But the non-pre-loaded model fits the same data, and would explain all sorts of things, such as the way torpedo warheads are stored in crates aboard DS9 in "Tribunal". In that episode, the warheads could be replaced with scrap metal without anybody noticing - an unlikely thing if the warheads were highly energetic devices even in storage.

Also, here's another vote for the torpedo glow being either from a hyperactive warp field - or from a similarly turned-to-eleven impulse drive. TNG era probes emit this fancy flame-like glow from their butt ends when accelerating; torpedoes could be doing the very same thing, only with 999% added fervor, so instead of a pseudo-flame we get this blinding glow.

Intriguing, BTW, how torpedoes are the weapon of choice in ST3:TSfS when the hero ship is crucially undercrewed. Is this a blow against the loaded-from-ship's-tanks theory (because there'd be too few crew to do the loading)? Or against the stored-pre-loaded theory (because the dialed-down ship would be incapable of safely storing high energy munitions)?

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