Constellation Class: Excelsior "back-up" plan?

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

  1. ProwlAlpha

    ProwlAlpha Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I would say that Constellation was built for a separate mission parameter with a similar feature in speed, but both class leaders were re-appropriated for testing. It would seem a little wasteful to build two of the largest ships in Starfleet just to test them, i would assume that Starfleet has more access to better simulators then we do. Building different styles of starships in order just to test them feels more like early 20th century rather than mid to late 23rd century.
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Then again, we still can't do aerodynamics virtually. The maths is simply several orders of magnitude too demanding. Oh, we're closer than anybody thought even five years ago, but the designers know the results are faulty more often than not, and prepare room for lead weights, extra vanes and fences, and provide the test schedule with months of fine-tuning of such emergency remedies.

    I have no trouble believing that warp dynamics in the Trek future will be too difficult to simulate without the help of at least a few subscale and sometimes full-scale test rigs to provide datapoints...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Tomalak

    Tomalak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Depends on the mission role. Even the Enterprise-D doesn't race around at warp 9 all the time. The four nacelles of the Constellation suggests endurance and stamina to me, not speed per se. A lot of fans have speculated it means the Stargazer has basically duplicated drive systems - two sets of nacelles, two impulse engines, two warp cores - the idea being you max out one, then switch to the other without interruption whilst the first one rests. Seems ideally suited to a deep space role to me.

    The Enterprise-D might be able to hit warp 9.6 for 12 hours, but maybe the Stargazer could fly at warp 7 almost indefinitely?
     
  4. WarpFactorZ

    WarpFactorZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Perhaps they were competing bids for the "next generation" starship. They had a few of each built to test out, and eventually went with the Excelsior design.
     
  5. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I tend to agree with Tomalak that the four engines might point to endurance. The writeup in the DS9TM that mentions the four-nacelled version of the Defiant pathfinder suggests using alternating pairs of warp cores and nacelles. Perhaps the Constellation was a precursor?

    You know, perhaps the Constellation was backup in the supportive sense. Maybe Starfleet realized it would be a while before enough Excelsiors were online to supplant the Constitution class, so Starfleet split out some design directives - let's say, deep space patrol and reconaissance - into another class brief that ultimately became the Constellation.
     
  6. ProwlAlpha

    ProwlAlpha Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Personally, I would say that Constellation was developed first due to sharing the same technology as the Constitution and the Miranda.

    Again, these are not small ships, so building them just to use them as test beds is rather wasteful.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But the one thing we know about the Excelsior is that she was supposed to be fast. The Constellation couldn't be an "insurance" design for Starfleet's great experiment at fastness unless she were designed to be fast, too.

    But the point would be, at any timepoint X, any organization would have the option of using old technology or new technology. And most would choose to use both, since new has a great probability of failing, even if old is known to have reached its limits for sure already.

    The Soviet Union built the Slava using old solutions in armament, electronics, propulsion and layout, quite simultaneously with the brand-new Kirov - not because it was cheap to build ships "just in case", but because it was hugely expensive to do so. Had Kirov failed, vast sums of money would have been spent on nothing, which would be massively worse than spending 2 x vast sums on at least something!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. ProwlAlpha

    ProwlAlpha Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You can't use what the Russians did during the Soviet as a good comparison to the UFP. Especially, when both designs are considered failures by Western analysts and both designs were outdated by the time they were actually put into production. The Kirov was designed in response to the USS Long Beach, while the Slava was intended to replace the Kynda/Kresta, but they very long construction times, so only three were built over a period of two decades, with a four one still uncompleted.

    A better comparison would be the Freedom LCS vs Independence LCS.
     
  9. Tomalak

    Tomalak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Absolutely, I agree. I don't think the Constellation was a back-up, I think it had a different role. A deep space explorer, capable of operating over long distances and being relatively self-sufficient.

    The Excelsior is a different kettle of fish; an experimental, breakthrough drive system built for speed and power. I do see her as a replacement for the kind of jobs we saw from the Enterprise in TOS and later TNG: police actions, ferrying diplomats, hosting conferences, and sometimes exploring the galaxy.
     
  10. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed. And one might think it was incredibly successful, given the high numbers of Excelsiors we saw, compared to low numbers of other "nacelles up" ships such as the Ambassador and Galaxy classes.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Where would the difference lie? For all we know, Klingon analysts considered both Constellation and Excelsior miserable failures.

    ...Ships that are invalid from the very concept on, and both demonstrably miserable failures engineering-wise?

    Neither really provides any sort of insurance against the other, either. If one flops, the other will go down in flames as well, being identical to her competition in all the aspects subject to the risk of failure. It's really a case of finding an alternative to the LCS concept, there lamentably being none (at least none that would involve ships).

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. ProwlAlpha

    ProwlAlpha Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Even though the proof concept of the transwarp drive was deemed a failure, the class wasn't, since it became the most prolific starship in Starfleet.

    Now, that I think it about further, in the 70s, the OH Perry class was built as a cheaper version to the Spruance Class where the OHPs got the moniker of Kmart frigates, but they proved their resilience during the 80s when two members of the class was heavily damaged in the Persian Gulf.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Which is neither here nor there, as only the opinion of the Klingons (the "western analysts") would have mattered. Quite possibly, they still think Starfleet was idiotic in putting the Excelsior to mass production.

    ...But not AFAIK as an insurance policy, as the USN still needed a truly oceangoing light cruiser cum destroyer, rather than just a continuation of the Garcia and Knox lines. Had Spruance been cancelled, increased production of Perry wouldn't have helped much.

    Personally, I can't see the Constellation as the cheaper version of anything. With all the desperate jury-rigging and doubling-up of components, she probably was the most expensive way to accomplish anything much...

    Hmm. The Miranda might be to Excelsior what Perry was to Spruance/[iTiconderoga[/i]. Except the Miranda seems eminently upgradeable while the Perry never was.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    The "back-up" concept idea comes to me at least more from things like: Conventional CVs being built along with the first CVN, or how the Royal Navy built both a paddle wheel corvette and a screw-ship when they were building coal fueled cruisers, or the conversion from coal burning ships to oil burning destroyers.

    The Constellation in that respect is so much doubling up and overbuilding to get the same result as the new fangled Excelsior seems to me to make sense in that regard. Even if eventually they were given different mission profiles and continued to be built in parallel.
     
  15. ProwlAlpha

    ProwlAlpha Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah, I was trying to think of the two competing steam warships being built by two rival firms during Victorian Age England. Also, during this time, turret vs broadside ironclads were being built as well.

    So we got the transwarp drive experiment ship, the Excelsior, vs the quad, rotating warp drive concept ship, the Constellation. I wonder if the Constellation, herself, had a bare hull in comparison to the production model Constellation which would have all the extra gribbles and other stuff on it.

    Though after the two respective experiments were done, that the two designs stopped being competing ones and became production ones with each separate mission profiles.
     
  16. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    The steam ships comparison (especially between paddle steamers and screw blockships) seemed the most apt, though the conversion from coal burners to oil burners is also a good starting point, since the Excelsior seems as akin to the oil burning battleships vs. the coal burning pre-Dreadnoughts when you compare her to her immediate predecessor (Enterprise-class)

    If we go by the wooden ship era comparison, Constellation seems akin to the warship conversions or limited ironclads like the French Gloire which turned wooden hulled ships into iron-clad screw-steamers, while Excelsior is more akin to HMS Warrior, built from scratch and completely abandoning wooden hulls at all.

    Barbettes vs. Turrets vs. Broadside armaments are another interesting example of comparisons. (If anyone's interested in more detail on this btw, I highly highly recommend the Conway's History of the Ship volume Steel, Steam and Shellfire)