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Old July 19 2008, 05:29 AM   #1
Wingsley
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Warptugs and cargo pods

STAR TREK never really made it clear how mass hauling and personnel transportation works in their Universe. Even in TOS remastered, we never did get to see the Astral Queen liner in "Conscience of the King". So starting with TAS and culminating with FJ's 1975 Tech Manual, we got to see some designs that seem to be kitbash-like concepts. The most obvious ones were FJ's Ptolemy and the Huron and drones from TAS. The remastered "Charlie X" revised TOS by making the Antares one of these.

But canon TREK never really showed us a bona fide warptug, or what mass-hauling and starliners would look like. We've seen frieghters, but the Ptolemy concept was never affirmed in TNG, DS9, VOY or ENT.

The Ptolemy was an interesting concept, using re-arranged components from the Constitution-class cruisers, but fans did a far more innovative job, like the Sultana kitbash that actually allows the ship to have a secondary hull/engineering with fuel store, hangar deck, an overall shape vaguely similar to the Constitution to make it more familial without being too familiar, and structured so the ship hauls two tug-pods in tandem.

What would Starfleet mass hauling and personnel moving look like? The Sultana? I had thought about this a year or so ago, when I posted my Yellowknife concept in the TrekBBS Trek Art forum:



Vance (Pixel Sagas) and Aridas were quick to make their own wonderful versions of the Yellowknife.

The Titan Fleet Yards used to post a set of impressive artwork on what an Imhotep-class automated warptug might look like; I like Harry Doddema's artwork for Imhotep far more than the TAS ships or the remastered Antares. Doddema took a simple design, vaguely based on the TAS frieghter design, which was resurrected for TOS-R as the Antares and Woden. Doddema broken the link to the ship images, so I don't know if they are available for viewing anymore.

The Woden brings me to my question. The "original" Woden was simply recycled footage of the Botany Bay. While I liked the part-submarine, part-rocketship look, the automated Woden never quite made sense. The M-5 automated Enterprise accelerated to Warp 4 to swoop in on the Woden and attack her. This seemed to suggest that the Woden was traveling at Warp speed, and the M-5 required Warp 4 to pull the maneuver. Since the "original" Woden did not appear to have any warp nacelles (and it didn't make sense to fly even automated freighters without warp capability) the whole thing was always a big ??? until TOS was remastered. And we never did get to see what the Astral Queen looked like when "Conscience of the King" was redone.

The Sultana model makes sense for Starfleet if the fleet needs to move massive amounts of cargo and/or personnel and they want a ship that can tug two (or more?) big pods to a remote destination at high warp. Would the Sultana also make sense in TOS? What about pre-TOS?

Both the Sultana and the Imhotep use the same large, cylindrical pods as FJ's original Ptolemy. But do these pods make sense? If Starfleet wanted a large pod to haul as much "stuff" as possible, I would suspect they would design the pod to be rectangular, like a railroad boxcar or a trailer for an 18-wheeler. Wouldn't that make sense?

FJ's Tech Manual seemed to suggest that the Astral Queen was actually a personnel pod, called a "starliner", that looked externally like all the pods tugged by a Ptolemy but be configured like a cruise ship on the inside. This would make a great deal of sense conceptually; groups of colonists could invest in building a pod (simple design) that could serve as a vessel on a voyage to some distant world to be colonized, and pay for passage on a warptug like Ptolemy (or Sultana) or perhaps more efficiently by using an automated warptug like Imhotep. Maybe the Imhotep could be fitted with a forward crew module like Antares, making it a "manned" tug, or maybe just buy a simple automated Imhotep-style tug and keep it to haul personnel and supplies back and forth between the home port and the frontier.

Wouldn't Starfleet find Imhotep more useful for establishing colonies, space stations and starbases? Supply lines could be automated and pods could be swapped easily to switch from personnel hauling to cargo hauling. This would also seem a very easy way for Starfleet to haul components for building and repair of ships and new stations, arrays, etc.

Comments?
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Old July 20 2008, 03:32 PM   #2
Forbin
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

Works for me!
I'll have a model kitbashed by Christmas.

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Old July 20 2008, 11:52 PM   #3
Wingsley
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

Does anyone still have an active link to Doddema's Imhotep, or other of his ships?

I'd like to bring that into the discussion.
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Old July 21 2008, 11:32 PM   #4
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

Shouldn't the impulse drive be on or close to the ship's center line? I mean, unless you want it to fly in circles.
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Old July 22 2008, 01:59 AM   #5
Wingsley
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

The Yellowknife design is one I'm considering abandoning. If you look at manned warptug starships, Forbin's Sultana makes more sense than all the other designs put together.

As for the specifics of the Yellowknife design, It is shaped in the same cylindrical/submarine fashion as the "original" TOS Woden, with impulse engines on each of the three "fins" space 120 degrees apart. I still like the shape of it, but Sultana is vastly superior.

The real thrust of this thread is Titan Fleet Yards'/Harry Doddema's Imhotep, which is an unmanned warptug. (Either Imhotep or something I would evolve from it, that is.) Just to give you a taster of what I'm talking about:



Here's a hypothetical warptug mission, as I envision it:

DELIVERING SUPPLIES TO SHERMAN'S PLANET
  • 1 Class I Starship escort - Spitfire-class light starcruiser
  • 3 Imhotep-style automated warptugs, each tugging at least one container of supplies
  • 1 warptug, equipped with small Antares-style crew module, also tugging supply container(s), which guides the other tugs.
This sample mission would rely on the Spitfire-class escort to keep the Klingons away, while the one "manned" Imhotep would manage the other automated tugs in the convoy.

Here's another hypothetical warptug mission...

DEEP SPACE COLONIAL MISSION
  • Several Imhotep-style automated tugs, carrying pods stuffed full of hibernaula containing volunteer-colonists in suspended animation to conserve resources.
  • Plus several automated tugs, carrying pods stuffed full of technology/equipment/supplies for creating a ready-made space station (or stations) and embarkation craft to land on the "new home", plus small asteroid mining & freight spacecraft (if needed) to mine for building materials in space to minimize resource harvesting on the colony-planet.
This scenario would mean that a Constitution-class starship, while exploring deep space, found a habitable world suitable for colonization. The starship reported its findings to Starfleet, Starfleet lets Federation member-worlds know, and civilians volunteer to form a colonization effort, raise funds to buy several warptugs and custom pods, and launch them to the frontier. Once arrived at their destination, the colonists are revived to build convert at least a couple of pods into a space station. Once the station is completed, the warp tugs can be sent back to their point of origin. These tugs continue a back-and-forth circuit, forming a supply line between the colony and the homeworld.

Other possibilities...

STARBASE SUPPLY LINES
Several automated warptugs would "belong" to a starbase, and form the backbone for the bases' supply needs with Starfleet's supply bases or industrial centers in the vicinity of Federation member-worlds.
STARLINERS
A warptug, either automated or one fitted with an Antares-style crew module, carries at least one starliner (Astral Queen) pod. This would allow personnel (either civilian or Starfleet) to move from planet to planet, or base to base, on an endless circuit. Think of it as taking on traits from a mixture of different 20th-century modes: airliners, dirigibles, cruise ships and rail.
I considering my automated warptug idea, based on Harry's Imhotep, to be called the new Yellowknife. This auto-warptug would be sleeker then Harry's concept, and like Forbin's Sultana, it would be able to hold either a single pod or pods in tandem.

I'm also considering a derivative concept for deep space applications that employs a larger fuel store and longer nacelles.

Comments?
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Old July 22 2008, 04:29 PM   #6
Forbin
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

I still like the shape of it, but Sultana is vastly superior.
Aw shucks, I'm blushin'

Thanks, I try to make 'em look practical.
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Old July 22 2008, 07:20 PM   #7
Wingsley
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

You're not alone. I wish I could combine what you do with Starscape's and Harry's artwork. It would be spectacular.

More to come.
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Old July 22 2008, 08:48 PM   #8
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

Finally, the Spitfire is assigned a mission. That reminds me I never did finalise a class name for it.

You've seem to have thought out all your ideas out pretty well, Wingsley.

Hey, those transport containers are huge. Their total internal volume must be close to that of a Constution class. It must be quite a logistical task just loading/unloading them. Maybe you could have several sizes of container, at say a half or quarter of that length.

Do you see them as being independent "vessels" with their own power supplies (for lifesupport and/or stasis fields to maintain perishable goods) or would the containers depend totally the tug for it's power needs?

I've never really cared for the idea of people being carried around in those containers. I suppose troop or colonial transport I could accept since it would seem to fall under the scope of Star Fleet. But FJ's starliner plans are more like a cruise-liner in design (as it contains gardens, cinemas, dance halls, etc), I'd rather see that handled by specialized civillian/commercial ships - if I was going to go on a luxury space cruise I'd not expect to be travelling in a container that's shaped like a tin can and has no windows.

Whenever I've thought of transport ships I tended towards self contained ships like the TOS-R Antares rather than those that carry container pods, but I'll be interested to see what you come up with.
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Old July 22 2008, 09:18 PM   #9
Wingsley
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

FJ did give the pods their own impulse engines, which implies they have their own power source.

I think FJ's concept needs some evolution. The starliners could use portholes, at least. And yes, varying lengths (but not diameters?) would be a good idea.

What does everyone think of the pods being rectangular solids instead of cylinders?
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Old July 22 2008, 10:09 PM   #10
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

I'm thinking there would be more structural stress problems with a box shape if there was a SIF breakdown. Cylinders would distribute the stress from the interior pressurization more evenly. There would also be more efficiency as far as the ratio of the stronger exterior shell (as well as any shielding) to the habitable volume (including pressurized cargo holds).

Cylinders might make better use of the usable space within the warp field too. One thing that makes me a bit skeptical about chaining multiple pods end to end would be the ability of the warp nacelles to extend the warp field that far aft.
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Old July 23 2008, 12:09 AM   #11
Wingsley
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

Yes, I see the pods' effect on the warp envelope as the prime issue for warptug efficiency and performance. That's one reason I like the tandem-pods idea from the Sultana; and I think it should be adapted to an Imhotep-style automated warptug. If you have two pods side-by-side, and each of those has a pod behind it, that's four pods.

I'll post a pencil drawing a little later of where I'm going with this.
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Old July 23 2008, 03:05 AM   #12
Wingsley
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

Here are a couple of pencil sketches of my automated warptug concept.

The first drawing is of a design closely based on Harry's Imhotep. Note that I made the central hull shaped more like a missile or a torpedo. There is not projection hanging down to prevent pod trains fore-to-aft from extending forward. Have a look:



I decided to do something different with the nacelle-and-pylon arrangement.

I wanted to nacelles to base closer to the payload, in an arrangement like the NX-Alpha or Zephrem Cochrane's Phoenix. This would seem to allow the warp envelope to be smaller than if the nacelles were projected so high as in the case of Harry's Imhotep.


Then there's my next drawing...

This is a loose conceptual sketch, not me pretending to draw schematics.

This is an angular view, to show the different nacelle-and-pylon arrangement, as well as to show a pair of pods connected in tandem:



One major aspect that's lacking in either image is a place for an Antares-style forward crew module to be attached to a warptug.
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Old July 23 2008, 07:34 PM   #13
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

A nice design, there. I can see it working for one pod, but how are the tandem pods attached to the tug's hull? For the tandem arrangement I'd expect the tug to be about twice the width of one pod so that there's room for both pod to attach directly to the tug's hull.

Wingsley wrote: View Post
One major aspect that's lacking in either image is a place for an Antares-style forward crew module to be attached to a warptug.
Why not just dispense with the crew module and have each tug able to be either fully crewed or automated: a normal starship can be remote controlled if it's prefix code is known, so why not a tug?
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Old July 23 2008, 07:56 PM   #14
Reverend
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

I did something similar a while back:-

the Atlas


...and the Magni.


I think I came up with them about the same time Harry did his; as I recall we were brainstorming over on Flare.
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Old July 23 2008, 10:00 PM   #15
Wingsley
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Re: Warptugs and cargo pods

Starscape wrote: View Post
A nice design, there. I can see it working for one pod, but how are the tandem pods attached to the tug's hull? For the tandem arrangement I'd expect the tug to be about twice the width of one pod so that there's room for both pod to attach directly to the tug's hull.

Wingsley wrote: View Post
One major aspect that's lacking in either image is a place for an Antares-style forward crew module to be attached to a warptug.
Why not just dispense with the crew module and have each tug able to be either fully crewed or automated: a normal starship can be remote controlled if it's prefix code is known, so why not a tug?

I was thinking that the pods could be attached to the warp nacelle pylons; the grappling apparatus could fold flush with the pylons when no pod is attached, and extend out to grapple a pod when one is ready to be hauled away.

As for the crew module concept: I was following what the remastered "Charlie X" did with the Antares. With this warptug concept, what the Federation did was mass-produce a very simple, easy-to-build/maintain warpsled that could be used either with or without a crew module. My thought was that the Federation would want to design and build a huge fleet of these warpsled-style warptugs to almost entirely automate their supply lines, particularly for Starfleet needs. The Federation would make sure they used a simple, rugged, dependable yet elegant design that could be adapted for either totally automatic (robot ships for long term deep space deployment), semi-automatic (robot ships accompanied by manned ships that would guide a convoy) or manned applications.

Think of this warptug as a warpsled, and it could have many applications, both civilian and military, for both within Federation space and out on the frontier. And these warptugs would seem to fit in perfectly with non-tug frieghter ships like Antares; the warptugs are like freight trains and dirigibles; while the Antares would be more like a spaceborne UPS van. That sounds like the Federation/Starfleet mentality to me.

As for Reverend's ideas, I say that's brilliant artwork. Last night before I went to bed I was thinking about this thread and it occurred to me that if you could attached a pod to each nacelle pylon on one side, you could attach a pod to the other side as well, so my warptug concept could haul four pods without a train-style arrangement. Now if the central hull of the warptug were also equipped with a vertical fin setup (both dorsal and ventral), that contained collapsable grappling apparatus within, the warptug could haul up to six pods at a time without trains.

This brings me to another issue: I see this warptug concept as fully compatible with TOS. In fact, it looks to me like a manned version of one of these tugs what could've have pulled the Astral Queen. (We don't know all the details from "Conscience of the King", so why not?)
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