How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platform?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Dayton3, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. Tigger

    Tigger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    I agree with those who believe there is probably some "tolereance drift" both within a starship and across a starship's class. Since we know starships are not built as perfect copies by replicators, there is likely some variances in the tolerances of each ship owing to a whole constellation (excuse the pun) of factors. And heck, what is not to say there is not some "tolerance drift" in a replicator?

    Yes, it's 300 years in the future and manufacturing techniques will no doubt improve steadily over that time, but these machines are being built partially on the ground (in a gravity well) and partially in space (in a microgravity well). Such variations could very well impart their own variations on the structures.

    Now, chances are the tolerances for a structure as large as the mated surface areas of the GCS saucer and neck are tight enough to allow interchangeability of "stock" saucers (ones that were built to the same specification and as such likely have pretty tight tolerances). Anything within a couple millimeters (which strikes me as reasonable for mid-24th century tolerances) would likely be fine.

    I imagine the docking clamp system itself forces the two pieces into the proper alignment as they get closer (since I doubt the ship's motion and position control system is accurate to the nanometer level), so provided the tolerances are close enough, things like EPS taps and turbolifts should all mate correctly.
     
  2. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Well, the only way you could be sure of something like that would be to design in a "flexible" interface... so that the elements in the mating section would be adjustable on-the-fly. Thing is, that makes for an even MORE complicated assembly, doesn't it.

    Is it theoretically possible for a "docking system" to be designed which would be loose enough, or "adjustable" enough, to permit every saucer and every secondary hull in the fleet to connect? Oh, I'm sure it would be.

    But the problem then is that you don't have an OPTIMIZED solution for ANY combination... the interface would be weaker (probably by a significant margin!) than it might otherwise be. Yes, you could have the turbolift junctions designed to allow a transfer without having to individually tweak the shafts to line up within, say, .005"... and allowing as much as 0.5" offset between shaft centerlines instead. But to do that, you'd have to have every car slow down and "crawl" through the interface as a result.

    There are COSTS to every design decision you make. SO... you have to decide, will you build in the capability to mate every saucer to every secondary hull... or will you optimize the performance of a specific combination of components to perform the best that they can, TOGETHER?

    (Those are directly OPPOSING perspectives. I know someone is going to say, now... "but it's the FUTURE so that doesn't count anymore." Bullshit... that argument only holds if you believe that this "future" will be set in the Land of the Lollypop King, with marshmallow skies and Koolaid Rivers...)

    So... YOU are in charge of starship production, and you have to make that choice... which do you choose?
     
  3. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Tolerances of a couple milimeters? Ha. I hold .005" on bent sheetmetal parts WITHOUT coining it. I can hold .001 if I coin it. Machined/milled tolerances can be held out to six places without much effort and that's using an old 1943 vintage lathe.

    Even shipbuilding scale work has tolerances closer than "a couple of millimeters."

    I suspect we're looking at tolerances of over a hundred decimal places or more by the time the Galaxy Classes are built.
     
  4. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Another thing to consider is technology is changing so rapidly now it's hard to even consider what may come next. A company here in New York is making wee motors small enough to drive optics for cellphone cameras. I mean, that's tiny. It's not a motor in a traditional sense with a rotating coil and all that, it operates on a different principle.

    When I started manufacturing stuff in 1989 I remember it being possible to get a tolerance of .010 repeatable over many cycles. As the machines improved from 1989 to 1999 and further out to 2008/9 I can hold .005 now without much effort on a 140 ton bending press. The new ones that they have coming down the pipe will be able to hold .002 over a thousand cycles without flinching.

    *shrug*

    Who knows? We could be looking at some kind of adaptive construction materials and technology that changes the shape and thus the location of the structures on the fly, in fact you would need something like that because the now exposed skin of the saucer and the now exposed skin of the neck will heat and cool and expand and contract different amounts as both ships are in different enviroments after separation... The saucer could be called upon to exit a solar-system at high-speed while the stardrive is duking it out in the atmosphere of a Class-M planet with a Leggs panty-hose container attached to a shampoo bottle. :D

    What I'm getting at is we honestly don't know what the Enterprise-D is really capable of because we cannot conceive of the incredible technologies required to build her.
     
  5. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Nope.

    You're talking about "across a single component." But that's not what we're talking about at all. Think "stack-ups."

    One part can hold .001" AT A SPECIFIC FEATURE. You do sheetmetal work... how accurately can you hold the true position of holes on opposite ends of a formed sheetmetal part, relative to each other, if the part is, say, six feet in length?

    Now... attach that to another part, also with inherent tolerances... and to another, and to another. Build up a structure made up of THOUSANDS OF PARTS, each of which has a tolerance of its own.

    That's called "tolerance stack-up." The more parts you have, the larger the stack-up. So, to make it SIMPLE...

    Assume that you have a string of 100 parts, each of which has a tolerance of .001" from mounting feature on one end to mounting feature on the other end. That gives you a tolerance stackup of 100 x .001" or 1/10" across the entire assembly.

    THEN, you get into coefficients of thermal expansion... every material grows or shrinks differently than every other material, based upon changes in temperature. So the "tolerances" you have CHANGE... and change from part to part, no less.

    Furthermore, you deal with both elastic and plastic deformation of all materials. Just for example, since you brought it up, the hull plating on a naval vessel when first assembled may be of one shape, but after several years in service will have changed shape, sometimes significantly enough to be seen with the naked eye.

    So you can hold to .001" on a coined sheetmetal bend... good for you. (I usually expect something on the order of .0003" for a coined feature in an aerospace environment). That does NOT in any way refute the point.

    How many MILLIONS of components of various types and materials do you think would make up the "interface" region of a Galaxy-class vessel? That's a MASSIVE "stack-up" isn't it?
     
  6. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Oh I'm well aware of stackup, one humorous example involved a young fabrication apprentice who ran everything at the low end of the tolerance only to find the 80' pipe manifold stack he built was four inches too short when installed in an apartment complex. Yeah I got yelled at for that one. :D

    Now there are SPC programs and software out there that let you punch in your measurement... Say my twelve foot section has two flanges on the end and I hold the length of the part 12' minus .005"

    You tell the software that you ran that section UNDERSIZE and when you pull up the program for the next item in the assembly it warns you that the previous part was .005" undersized and prompts you to run the next part in such a way that the part still assembles. If I ran the first part and the second part both undersize there is a good chance that it might not work as intended.

    400 years from now they'll have expert systems in place that take what I describe to a whole new level. Virtual energy-based tooling with nanobot assisted die lubes and stroke repeatability to .000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001mm (yes we'll be metric by then :D) the press-brakes that form the plates of a Galaxy Class starship will be very very different than what I run today.

    ...and they will STILL have the AMADA logo on them. :cool:
     
  7. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Frigging aerospace. :D I'll stick with my envelope-cramming-and-sorting machines and $15,000 movie-studio light fixtures. ;)

    BTW how big of a lot are we talking on your example above? I've blown out tools trying to hold the .001 on a coining operation in about 150 parts.
     
  8. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Well, it varies widely... but total runs are typically counted in the low-hundreds for total ship-sets. (Translation for "ship set"... suppose you're talking about engine supports... on a C-130. That's four engines... thus four engine-sets equals one ship-set... and so on)

    I've had runs that involved less than a hundred TOTAL ship sets (say, for a particular revision of a Cessna Citation X) and some that ran into close to a thousand. But the quantities in aerospace are always far lower than in most other industries.

    And yeah, in those larger-runs, we usually amortize multiple iterations of tooling... or at the very least, major reworking/restoration of tooling... into the up-front cost estimates. (Though sometimes folks try to wrap all that up into the "NRE" costs... )
     
  9. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    ...whereas this company thinks tooling lasts forever. :p I think I need to explode more dies so they'll step up the replacement program. :D
     
  10. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    This is one thing I question about the Sternbach/Okuda model of treknology, as they assume that starships are not built by replicator-fabrication technology. The logic goes that if entire starships could be replicated, then nobody would have any problem whipping up an entire fleet anytime they wanted to.

    I see their point, but I think they approached it from the wrong angle. The point is not to shove an asteroid-full of metal ore into a giant funnel and watch a starship materialize out the other end, fully assembled. That doesn't make sense. I doubt that the Federation would approach ship-building technology in the TOS, TMP or TNG/DS9 eras that way. You want something that has built-in safeguards against failures (if a space vessel's components are built by machines and then assembled, the ship-building process allows time to customize, change specifications, and check for errors that even computerized industrial replicators are bound to make occasionally). Besides, imagine the energy it must take to replicate matter on a large scale, all at once. It would have to be a huge honkin' machine! I would think it would be more efficient and manageable to have a large number of smaller machines fabricating components to be fitted in an assembly process.

    You want space vessels to be assembled, not materialized all at once. Why? ENT provided the answer: Archer and Tucker were part of the NX program from the ground up. They may not have had replicator technology in their era, but the Earth Fleet culture which groomed them to build and fly the first NX-class vessel is telling. I would expect that TOS and TNG era space vessel construction and engineering to work in at least a vaguely similar way: you want at least some starship officers (and probably most if not all their engineers) to be involved at some point in their careers in ship building (or, in Scotty's case in TMP, in refitting) so they not only know the ship inside out, but also have direct experience working on one before it gets sent out into space. Archer's and Tucker's experience with the NX program was not only part of their characters that made them interesting, it said something provocative about how a super-complex space vessel with millions (billions?) of parts can be expected to work reliably to get the crew from port to deep space and back. And, lest we forget, their tangle with the Xindi showed they could take a shot-up ship and keep her flying.

    I would expect that this ship-builders' subculture within the fleet would be necessary to keep ships flying, since they would be crewed by mere mortals as opposed to a crew of androids. I'm not saying that Pike or Kirk or Janeway or Picard were necessarily ship-builders at any point in their careers, but I do think it's telling that Sisko was involved in the making of the original "escort" ship Defiant. And who's to say that the rest of them didn't at some point fulfill a ship building/engineering/refitting assignment as a prerequisite for their standard career advancement? I can certainly believe that Scotty would have, so he could become a "miracle worker"!

    So maybe starships can be replicated, be it is best to replicate components, not have a whole ship popping out of a giant microwave in thirty seconds.
     
  11. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf


    Unless ship #6 off the line is using a docking clamp system with a different number of clamps in different locations than ship #4; unless lessons learned from ships 1 thru 3 made them move the EPS taps 50 meters starboard and 6 meters farther aft on ships 4 thru 6; unless the battle bridge was moved forward on ship #5 to make room for a new ECM system and the turbolift shaft had to be repositioned 14 meters to port.... In such cases you're just not gonna be able to fit the saucer from ship #4 to the hull of ship #6.

    I'm not sayin' it IS that way, I'm just sayin' it's a thing to consider. And in fact, I think it would make a story where they're trying this much more interesting.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Actually, I was mainly thinking in terms of software and processes when making that swappability-compatibility remark.

    Two saucers might be physically identical, and indeed would probably strive to be, at least within production batches if not between them. But each Galaxy saucer would have learned to "live" attached to a specific stardrive, and that would mean having certain daily routines such as the flow of information, operational fluids or even personnel between the two components. A swapped saucer might suffer from fatal undernourishment, epileptic fits and a constant pain in the portside diodes for months before the two artificial organisms learned to respect their differences and settled for a mutually acceptable lifestyle.

    Oh, and as for the E-D -> Veridian IV -> "AGT" timeline, I don't think Starfleet would actually be in a major hurry to remove the saucer. How quickly could the Veridian III dwellers be expected to whip up a space program? It might well take them more than a few decades to work up to those levels of competence, even if they had extraordinary incentive. And they probably wouldn't, as the ST:GEN starship operations seemed to take place on the shadow side of the outer planet, away from the inner one.

    In case there were exceptional developments, though, I'm sure Starfleet would set up a stakeout operation that, in observing a rocket launch in progress, would go all Gary Seven on it...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. jolau

    jolau Captain Captain

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Do you think the Federation or Starfleet would go to that extreme in keeping the Veridian people away from the Enterprise-D saucer to the point where they would sabotage the Veridian space program?
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Yes. That is, the forward observers would make early unmanned space launchers go kaboom the way the USAF Vanguards kept blowing up, or they'd make the probes disappear en route. That'd give them time to summon Starfleet to do the Veridian IV cleanup at a hastened schedule.

    TNG "First Contact" already shows our heroes will meddle in appropriate ways when they want to either expose or hide the existence of the interstellar community. Judging by that precedent, Federation agents might actually approach the leaders of Veridian III (or its nation-states or whatever), explain the situation, and ask them to help hide it from their subjects. If that failed, there's always the patented Pulaski Memory Wipe...

    We don't really know why the Feds are so obsessed about this first contact thing. But episodes such as the one above show that they really are obsessed enough. Anything nonlethal would probably go in keeping to the approved procedure.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Well, let's think about this... the Galaxy-class structure consists, really of four primary elements.

    1) Structure (that is, beams and girders and so forth... plus the force-field equivalent in SIF).

    2) Utilities (plumbing, wiring, "plasma conduits," optical data lines, etc,etc) plus gravity generation and life-support and so forth. I also include power generation in here, though you could break that out into a separate category if you wish... I'm thinking of HOW it's integrated, not the purpose it's integrated for, in other words. Make sense?

    3) Skin (including windows, including sensor elements, including phaser strips, including deflector/shield hardware).

    4) Habitable spaces (consisting, per the TNG TM, of a series of semi-independent MODULES which are suspended by semi-elastic "stringers" within the superstructure, and linked into the existing utilities network)

    Now... we keep talking about the saucer as a "whole" in this conversation, but I don't think that's reasonable. Let's look at SYSTEM instead.

    I suspect that the saucer would be "field stripped" bit by bit until anything valuable was gone. SO...

    1) Remove the individual habitable spaces, one at a time. Maybe these can be restored and reused on other "new build" or even "dominion war repair job" ships? This also means removing a large amount of the higher technology within her.

    2) Remove the higher-order utilities (including the power generation hardware). You could easily leave the less-advanced stuff, though.

    3) You'd probably strip down the higher technology from the skin (phasers, sensors, etc) but leave the skin itself.

    4) You'd probably strip out the SIF from the skeleton.

    At this point, what you basically have is a structural framework with some basic utility runs inside and a skin on the outside. At this point you've have two alternatives... both of which are destructive in nature. You'd either slice it up and take it away in chunks to a "recycling station" or you'd simply use your phasers to melt it to slag. By the time the locals manage to get to that planet, they'd find an odd, slightly unnatural valley and perhaps an odd near-surface deposit of some unrecognized metallic materials (probably well-oxidized and more of an "ore" than a refined metal)

    The saucer itself would be gone but it would have largely been recovered, in other words... and its contents recycled to whatever extent was possible.
     
  16. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Sigh.
    If you have a GC which was built at the time of Enterprise-D launch and the GC constructed at the time of Nemesis, designs would remain the same.
    Why?
    Refits.
    The older classes would be refitted to accommodate ANY design changes that might have happened from the time a first GC was made (not that ANY were made in any significant manner really).

    To incorporate engineering 'tweaks' is an internal issue that can be done on any class of ship with several days of work in the field.
    Examples of such adjustments are evident in virtually all Star Trek serials.

    Point: All star-ships of particular class come out identical from construction yards.
    If any field adjustments were made to a star-ship that improved it's functionality (or re-fits), other ships in the fleet of the same class will of course implement those techniques/changes.
    Other classes of ships will incorporate internal changes to their systems.
    External design changes happen rarely, and most often after a long period of time.
    The only radical change the GC experienced (most notably the Venture) was an addition of 2 phaser strips on her upper portion of the nacelles.
    Other GC's were not seen with such enhancements, and on some ocassions even the Venture didn't have them (which is of course a CG problem).
     
  17. Sean_McCormick

    Sean_McCormick Captain Captain

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    No, there are always small differences between the different ships of one class. In naval units, this is used to identify a specific ship with (at last in the past) people memorizing the differences from images.
     
  18. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    Nothing substantiates that in regards to SF ships of the same class that leave construction yards.
    Changes from ship to ship of the same class happen only because each crew customizes their own ship to their needs and their ideas as a result of personal experience in the past and the ones in the field.
    If particular ideas results in a change that improves performance it will probably be incorporated class-wide (adapted for flee-wide use) ... and will become a standard for new ships of the same class that are constructed.

    We are talking about fictional SF after all set 270 years into the future ... not reality.
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    At the very least we should acknowledge that the bridges and engine rooms of externally identical starships may differ radically in layout, shape and size. It would seem a given that the saucer of the E-nil-refit and the secondary hull of the E-A would reject each other like two homophobic rednecks at a nudist camp.

    It seems highly unlikely that there would be anything like "fleetwide refits". Some feature would be tested on this ship, another on that one; 1/3 of the ships might remain out of reach for the entire duration of testing refit A, and only half of those would remain at standard B until standard C was introduced because they'd partake in the experimental B1 refit in between. And so forth.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. westwords2020

    westwords2020 Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: How About Replacing the Galaxy saucer with dedicated weapons platf

    This sounds like the USN Littoral Combat Ship or LCS which is small at 3000 tons yet can engage in multiple missions one at a time by swapping out internal mission packages including towed sonar/ASW helos/Unmanned Air Vehicles/Unmanned Surface Vessels/Unmanned Underwater Vehicles for ASW. For ASUW, the USV/UAV/UUV/helos are armed with antiship/small boat weapons modules. For mine warfare, the mission modules include all of the above with a means of destroying mines. Special Forces and Humanitarian air packages are possible. This 'swapout' of various roles and gear and mission specialists can be done in two days at a suitable base.
    Regretably, the LCS is having cost overun problems.
    Star Fleet might do better in focused mission/mission swapable starships.