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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old August 17 2013, 01:28 AM   #1
Lance
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Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

This one's really just a thought bubble on my part.

One of the interesting continuity points in TNG's first couple of seasons that I really liked was that the crew weren't entirely sure they'd figured out all the kinks in the Galaxy class. It seemed to be strongly implied on several occasions that the Galaxy class was an experimental ship and that thy're kinda still figuring it out as they go along. Isn't there dialogue in "Contagion" along the lines of Captain Varley of the USS Yamato stating they should have run more tests on the Galaxy class before sending them out?

And while the Yamato might be chalked up as an isolated incident, there have been a surprising number of Galaxy class ships that are seen to go up in flames on-screen. The Odyssey was taken down very quickly by Jem'Hadar attack ships (admittedly Starfleet wasn't prepared for the weapons they were packing), but even Enterprise is shown to have a very specific achilles heel: the coolant system, which faults while battling Klingons in the alternate universe in "Yesterday's Enterprise", and then does so again in almost identical circumstances in "Generations". And on neither occasion can Geordi LaForge actually do anything about it. Once it goes it goes, and they seemingly have no options left but to evacuate the ship.

One can't help but wonder if all the talk of the Galaxy class being untested might be true? They do often seem to be more fragile than maybe they should be.
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Old August 17 2013, 02:04 AM   #2
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

Captain Varley's comments about the state of the Yamato in his logs are to be taken with a grain of salt, he wasn't and engineer. The Iconian virus could do that to any starship, even a Romulan ship was vulnerable to it.

Same thing applies to the Odyssey, it was facing an opponent with shield piercing weapons a ship without shields is always shown to be rather helpless in Star Trek. The captain dropped the shields when they were ineffective against the polaron beams allowing the Jem'Hadar to perform a kamikaze attack, again this could have been any class of starship.

As for coolant leaks and what not I'd say a ship is at the mercy of the writers and the plot of the episode at that point.
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Old August 17 2013, 03:38 AM   #3
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

I would imagine every starship that has a matter/anti-matter reactor that makes Hiroshima look like a firefly on the horizon would be in deep shit in a fight when their cooling system gets damaged. In both cases they had been taking direct hits and fire for a sustained period. It'd be a design flaw if the first shot took it out.
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Old August 17 2013, 03:53 AM   #4
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

Every spaceship in every series or movie is a potential deathtrap, whether the main characters are on it or not. Especially if not.
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Old August 17 2013, 10:42 AM   #5
C.E. Evans
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

Lance wrote: View Post
This one's really just a thought bubble on my part.

One of the interesting continuity points in TNG's first couple of seasons that I really liked was that the crew weren't entirely sure they'd figured out all the kinks in the Galaxy class. It seemed to be strongly implied on several occasions that the Galaxy class was an experimental ship and that thy're kinda still figuring it out as they go along. Isn't there dialogue in "Contagion" along the lines of Captain Varley of the USS Yamato stating they should have run more tests on the Galaxy class before sending them out?
As Leroy said earlier, Varley's comments weren't supposed to be taken seriously. He was frustrated because of the Iconian computer virus or program that would have felled any starship design (the Yamato was lost before the virus was discovered, IIRC, and LaForge subsequently ruled out a design flaw)

Otherwise, the Galaxy-class starship was the newest and most advanced design at the time and had likely underwent many years of testing.
And while the Yamato might be chalked up as an isolated incident, there have been a surprising number of Galaxy class ships that are seen to go up in flames on-screen. The Odyssey was taken down very quickly by Jem'Hadar attack ships (admittedly Starfleet wasn't prepared for the weapons they were packing), but even Enterprise is shown to have a very specific achilles heel: the coolant system, which faults while battling Klingons in the alternate universe in "Yesterday's Enterprise", and then does so again in almost identical circumstances in "Generations". And on neither occasion can Geordi LaForge actually do anything about it. Once it goes it goes, and they seemingly have no options left but to evacuate the ship.

One can't help but wonder if all the talk of the Galaxy class being untested might be true? They do often seem to be more fragile than maybe they should be.
Only three Galaxy-class ships were lost. In comparison, Starfleet likely lost many more Oberth-, Miranda-, and maybe even Excelsior-class ships over the years, and yet those designs were still around by the late 24th-Century. There's nothing really to suggest the Galaxy-class is fragile at all and I would argue it's one of Starfleet's strongest designs, actually.

But I don't think any starship design is invincible and none will ever be.
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Old August 17 2013, 10:57 AM   #6
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

The only flaw a lot of ships have is that their failsafe systems seem to fail an awful lot. Even with a coolant leak they should have been able to eject the core.
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Old August 17 2013, 11:25 AM   #7
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

They do have a tendency to explode when you so much as throw a rock at either nacelle. And the shape is rather awkward.

But the remarks in Contagion were due to the virus.
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Old August 17 2013, 11:34 AM   #8
C.E. Evans
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
They do have a tendency to explode when you so much as throw a rock at either nacelle.
That's inherent in all Federation starships. Nacelles are vulnerable in general, and are sometimes specifically targeted in battle (i.e., "Target their engines").
And the shape is rather awkward.
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Old August 17 2013, 11:36 AM   #9
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
Only three Galaxy-class ships were lost.
Weren't there only six of them in service at that point though?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
They do have a tendency to explode when you so much as throw a rock at either nacelle.
Yeah its handy the already built Defiant class never had that flaw, considering its not one that the Borg took advantage of.
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Old August 17 2013, 12:09 PM   #10
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

As for core ejection, it's probably a technology that will take centuries to perfect yet. After all, we have no evidence Kirk's ship would have had anything like that available: if his power system started acting up, the best chance would have been to abandon the whole ship. Except he couldn't do even that, because he had no deep space -proof evacuation system in evidence.

The closest TOS ever comes to a "core ejection" is a cumbersome manual operation Scotty has to perform on the antimatter flow system in "That Which Survives": there appears to be an ejection system for the fuel stores, but it consists of Scotty himself installing makeshift explosive charges that will sever the antimatter (and the engineer!) from the ship, probably in a highly destructive manner but still one that will save some lives.

It may well be impossible to eject all the components of an antimatter power system in a safe manner: there's always some leakage that, in the event of the ejection, results in local explosions and the total loss of the crew. Such a system is still worth having if it makes a difference between "starship becoming a gutted wreck" and "starship becoming a fireball that consumes nearby starships and wreaks havoc on the planet she's orbiting".

Regarding the original question, we unfortunately never got a detailed look at other TNG era starships, in or out of action. A few glimpses into old Constellations suggested these ships were robust and easy to rig with all sorts of fancy 24th century gimmickry, such as a remote piloting system, a system for one man to run the ship for a short while, or a two-second warp drive. Picard didn't give praise to the design in "Relics", though.

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Old August 17 2013, 12:13 PM   #11
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

But at the end of the day like it or not it simply comes down to what the writers want/need the ship to do in any given episode.
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Old August 17 2013, 03:17 PM   #12
C.E. Evans
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

Rarewolf wrote: View Post
C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
Only three Galaxy-class ships were lost.
Weren't there only six of them in service at that point though?
Officially, we don't know how many Galaxy-class ships were built. The TNG Technical Manual suggested that there were only going to be twelve such ships (6 built initially, with 6 more to be built later when warranted), but onscreen the number could have been higher given how many we saw during in action in DS9 (one was even present in VOY's finale).
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Old August 17 2013, 03:26 PM   #13
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post

And the shape is rather awkward.
Since it isn't meant to be flown in the atmosphere, I'd say the shape is rather irrelevant to the conversation.
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Old August 17 2013, 09:41 PM   #14
FKnight
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

The two most flawed pieces of the Galaxy class are:

1. The starboard power coupling.
2. The fact that absolutely nothing, even a holodeck that can create characters that can kill the whole crew, has a physical "off" button.

The flaw on the Yamato was her captain.
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Old August 18 2013, 12:07 AM   #15
Trekker4747
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Re: Have the Galaxy Class got a fatal design flaw?

Yes, that blasted starboard power coupling. Damn you SPC!!!! Also the ejection system for the warp core that seemed to go down whenever the ship went over a slight bump.
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