Constellation Class: Excelsior "back-up" plan?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Nob Akimoto, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    So one of the more interesting pieces about the Constellation is that it has substantially more internal volume than similar vintage ships like the Constitution or Miranda. At 640,000 m^3 it's actually almost on par with the Excelsior in overall volume. When nacelle volume is excluded the similarities in overall volume increase. (Excelsior has a slightly larger nacelle volume overall)

    Given that there was at least one Constellation class ship stated on-screen to have been commissioned in the 2280s, this raises the question of whether the Constellation was considered something of a "back-up" plan in case the Great Experiment wound up being a flop. The four-nacelle arrangement, the extra volume and the fact that a fair number were still frontline explorers into the 2330s — 2350s suggests they were overengineered to a similar degree as the Excelsior.
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I'd very much like to think that something like this was going on at Starfleet at the time. The idea of the Constellation piling up old tech to get the same effect as smaller numbers of modern gadgets is a time-honored one - see e.g. the Soviet Kirov class (Project Orlan) and his conventional backup plan of Slava class (Project Atlant).

    I'd also like to postulate, though, that the Constellation was marketed as something else, in order to secure construction. Rick Sternbach's backstory is fine with me, as would be the idea that the four-naceller was some sort of a high speed reconnaissance asset (in addition to being a backup plan for the next generation of GP cruisers).

    The latter idea would be cool because Starfleet might keep the very existence of such spyships secret for some time - thus they wouldn't be listed in my favorite fan resource, Ships of the Star Fleet, yet, as this putative in-universe publication is dated at 2291 when certain skeletons would still remain in their closets. ;)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This idea was used in one of the fan pubs "Ships of the Star Fleet" or "Star Fleet Prototype", my memory fails me.

    I recall the background story was about Star Fleet's next great starship design after the Constitution class.

    It was to be the Excelsior, all new untested tech for a new starship design or the Constellation--improved and better starship using proven familiar tech.

    Evidently similar mission profiles and so on, but yeah... Excelsior and Constellation as contemporary designs, each vying to be the great follow-up to the Constitution class.

    (I don't know how the transwarp drive factored into these plans.)

    It's an interesting idea, I like the history it establishes.
    And it doesn't seem to be a win or lose competition since we later see many examples of both classes in service.

    We generally see many more Excelsiors in TNG era. Maybe the Constellations become more popular at the start, just after TMP era. The Excelsiors got a delayed production after working out the new tech problems?

    By the TNG era, most Constellations have already run out their service lives, we see fewer of them. The Excelsiors got a later start, so we see more of them still around in TNG. Maybe?
     
  4. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    The two things that the Reliants and Constellations have in common to me are their large shuttlebay doors and volume. It could be argued that these two classes prospered post "The Undiscovered Country" because the new peace meant more exploration and expansion which would need more ships that had volume to move large items.
     
  5. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think it makes sense - but as Timo says it was probably "sold" differently.
     
  6. yenny

    yenny Captain Captain

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    The Constellation class were never a back-up plan for the Excelsior. The USS Constellation itself went on a one year trail run even before the Excelsior had left the shipyard.

    But in real life. The four nacelle prototype Excelsior, did lead to the idea of the Constellation.
     
  7. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    Source?

    As for the other replies, I'm sure there was plenty of internal Starfleet politicking to get the Constellation class approved and to protect it once the Excelsior with conventional engines turned out to be viable. I can also see the argument for the Miranda's popularity and the Constellation coming from their shuttle bay volume.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The one further thing they share is twin "impulse deflection crystals" (by virtue of the Constellation having two impulse engine sets, and the Miranda having those blue domes both atop and below). Perhaps impulse acceleration is another thing that was lacking in the Constitution-refits and helped seal their fate?

    This would be no contradiction of the backup idea. Naturally, the "safe" alternative would reach trials stage faster than the "risky" one!

    Interestingly, the Constellation herself is listed as still undergoing warp trials as of ST6:TUC, in a background graphic that admittedly cannot be read on screen but OTOH is meant to be a "serious" in-universe readout for a rare once, rather than a combination of gibberish and in-jokes. Might be that the "safe" alternative wasn't so safe after all, and the four-nacelle configuration presented so many problems that the Constellation was in fact an expensive failure in the end.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. yenny

    yenny Captain Captain

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    Like I said, the Constellation class were never were and never have been a back-up plan for the Excelsior class. They didn't thought of the Constellation class starship, until after they had film the TNG episode The Battle. They were planing for the USS. Stargazer to be a Constitution.
    Cause we really don't know what the Constellation was really doing? They can easily, if they decided to? Add the Constellation into the background.
    In the Star Trek world. The USS Excelsior should never been sent to the starbase until after all it systems had been check out and all of it were in good working order.
     
  10. yenny

    yenny Captain Captain

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    The USS. Hathaway NCC-2593, another Constellation class starship was mention in TNG episode Peck Performance that the Hathaway was 80 years old. They said that the episode itself had taking place in 2365. 80 from 2365 is 2285.
    Which would mean that the USS. Constellation had already past it trail run test and was already on active service.

    Also, there is the USS. Roosevelt NCC-2573 another Excelsior class starship would been ready for active service during the same time period.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, you said that. It's just that you have given us no reason to believe you.

    That's an "out-universe" argument. We're talking about "in-universe" here - whether Starfleet built that ship as a backup.

    And she wasn't - we never saw her at any starbase, ever!

    What we did see her doing was waiting at Earth for some trial runs that apparently would help in eventually fielding the ship operationally.

    And you still haven't given any reason why this would be against the "backup design" idea.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    I think yenny is referring to one of the early Excelsior conceptual prototype models for Star Trek III that did happen to have 4 engines. It appeared as a background ship in the Wolf 359 aftermath, along with this, another Excelsior concept and this, which I think was an early Enterprise Phase II concept. It could be postulated that this ship and the Constellation shared a similar pedigree, experimenting with quad nacelle configurations before the advent of Galaxy-style (or perhaps Ambassador-style) twin-coil star-drive engines, but there is certainly no on-screen evidence to support any of this (nor is there anything to refute it, for that matter).
     
  13. ProwlAlpha

    ProwlAlpha Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    My personal theory was that the Constellation was the first ship to be refitted with the new technology that would be later instituted on the Enterprise NCC-1701, the US Navy does something similar called the technology insertion.

    While the second ship of the new class was brought forward as the class certification vessel in order for Starfleet to procure more vessels. The Class was ordered for the same mission profile as what early 20th Century light cruisers and sailing frigates, operating alone near borders or contested areas, showing the flag in various alien ports, and as fast couriers for diplomats.

    Eventually, the Constellation went through certification trials in order to be formally commissioned. Due to the majority of the class being out on the frontier, the ships were not upgraded nor refitted on a good schedule. A number of the ships were retired due to the resource extensive and time consuming upgrades. The survivors (including the USS Victory which served until at least 2374 from the DS9 okudagrams) were upgraded and had SLEP (Service Life Extension Program) to them.
     
  14. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Starfleet may have put a lot of faith and hope into The Great Experiment, but they would also be looking at alternatives (just in case).

    I've always wondered why the Constellation-Class needed so many shuttle/cargo bay doors. Was she something akin to a carrier?
     
  15. SicOne

    SicOne Commodore Commodore

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    ^ I wondered that as well. Based on some cutaways I've seen, it almost looked like it had more interior shuttlebay space than a Galaxy-class.
     
  16. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    I gathered that several of the doors were for large cargo loading and storage. If Constellations were designed to serve as deep space galaxy exploration vessels on the frontier, as ProwlAlpha said, refits and repair wouldn't happen as frequently, nor would supply for the long voyages. They would probably also need a higher capacity for shuttles if the transporter went out for extended periods of time. Doubling up on engines and weapons over the Constitution class configuration heavily implies redundant backup systems in case drydock facilities are not nearby.
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    It might also be that they bays behind those doors are quite shallow. Perhaps the doors actually hide sensors or weapon systems, rather than cavities for small craft or cargo?

    For all we know, the bow door could cover the ship's navigational deflector dish during impulse flight...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    Good point - it does seem to suffer from Miranditis, with a lack of a forward navigational deflector. Unless, of course, it was one of the myriad greeble danglers on the underside of the primary hull, serving as a new kind of experimental "non-luminescent" deflector. The Image-G model makers seem to have treated that particular feature of starships with a distinctive air of randomness, for some reason.
     
  19. Tomalak

    Tomalak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The "deflector" is just a forefield that sweeps aside stellar dust and small objects. That could be generated internally. The big blue glowy thing seems like a slightly different piece of hardware, perhaps a more powerful version needed when you're hitting top warp speeds. Maybe the Reliant and Stargazer could only trundle along at warp factor 8?
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    A bit difficult to insist that the Constellation would be an Excelsior backup plan in that case, I guess.

    Timo Saloniemi