Launching the Phoenix

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by William Leisner, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    I wonder if some of the more technical minded fans around here can answer a question I've been pondering, regarding the Phoenix as depicted in Star Trek: First Contact.

    As we know from the movie, Cochrane converted an old disarmed ICBM to his launch vehicle for his warp ship. However, it strikes me that a missile designed only to travel partway around the globe might not actually be able achieve orbit. Also, if I'm not mistaken, a nuclear missile is mostly missile, with a relatively small warhead. However, only about half the missile we saw in FC was rocket engine, and the other half the Phoenix itself. That means that this missile had to lift a larger payload further with less, no?

    So, is this really bad engineering science, or could a genius like Cochrane have pulled off such a feat of rocket retrofitting?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    This is long shot, and totally off the top of my head, but I suppose that if he was able to keep the warp engines powered to some degree even before launch then the subspace field thus generated would be able to cancel the mass of the ship to some extent. This is part of the basic premise of warp drive: that a subspace field isolates the vessel's mass from the ordinary effects of Newton's physics to the point where its slippery enough for Einstein's physics to not be able to increase the relative mass due to acceleration towards the speed of light (where it would attain infinite mass and therefore need infinite energy to keep it moving.) I imagine that early application of a weak subspace field could isolate the ship's inertial mass to allow a stubby rocket to push too big a ship up to 11.2 km/s/s.
     
  3. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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    It was simply very bad writing on the part of Moore and Braga.

    They were attempting to resurrect the old 1950s science fiction movie idea of a "mad scientist launching a spaceship from his backyard".

    Some ideas should stay in the 50s.
     
  4. Sisko_is_my_captain

    Sisko_is_my_captain Captain Captain

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    That ship obviously had inertial dampers (vibration/shaking experienced by the crew aside). Otherwise, they'd be meat paste on the aft bulkhead before they'd come close to c.

    If the ship didn't weigh as much as a regular ICBM (as suggested above) due to inertial dampers, the engines could easily launch them into orbit.
     
  5. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    That would also presumably "isolate" the mass of the Titan II booster's onboard fuel and oxidizer, thus reducing the vehicle's thrust. I fail to see the advantage.

    TGT
     
  6. MicahBrack

    MicahBrack Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    You're thinking 20th century tech. Don't forget that missile was presumably built in the mid-21st century (during World War III). We can just say ICBM operate differently in that era.
     
  7. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    Why would you presume such a thing? This was clearly an obsolete missile that the US government gave/sold to Cochrane for his warp project, and not one of the most current generation of defenses against the threat of the Eastern Coalition. Not to mention that WWIII probably didn't last long enough for anything to be built during the conflict.
     
  8. Sisko_is_my_captain

    Sisko_is_my_captain Captain Captain

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    Yes, but when the thruster exhaust exited the inertially damped zone, it would revert to its standard mass and push the craft.
     
  9. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Do you spend much time cross connecting the impulse power to the warp drive control circuits, or would that make things too difficult for one man to handle?
    Signed,
    Talk(x2) aka doubletalk
     
  10. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    But the net kinetic energy of the exhaust gasses - which provide the actual thrust - would have to remain constant in both zones, otherwise you would be violating the law of conservation of energy.

    TGT
     
  11. Sisko_is_my_captain

    Sisko_is_my_captain Captain Captain

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    Unless you want to breach the warp core, you'd better be running that cross-circuited impulse power through a duotronic manifold uplink.
     
  12. Sisko_is_my_captain

    Sisko_is_my_captain Captain Captain

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    Seems to me that what the inertial dampers must do is shunt kinetic energy into subspace so that the effective energy in real space would be less. Or something like that.
     
  13. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    How is this not a flaw with inertial dampening and impulse engines as well?
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The missile in question is obviously not the Titan II that was used for portraying it. The first stage has a futuristic single, broad nozzle, similar to the one that propels the warp upper stage at sublight. And the spatial version of this engine apparently has the ability of getting the warp stage back to Earth from a considerable translunar distance in a matter of hours rather than days.

    This is simply 21st century treknology at work. The engine simply is that good. No, this is not surplus from 1970 - it is surplus from something like 2030-2050, and only incidentally looks like 1970s tech. And what else could it look like? A rocket is a rocket - you don't design one to look like a vagina just because you are wary of being phallic. And USAF would apparently cling on to its traditional colors till WWIII and perhaps beyond.

    Why give the lower stage of an ICBM a SSTO capability? Many advantages there: launching to orbit at one point and then firing down from there at another moment will surprise the enemy, and might also make him hesitate at the moment of launch. Targets could be altered in mid-flight, and off-planet targets such as freely orbiting space stations or maneuvering orbital combat platforms could also be hit.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Jimmy_C

    Jimmy_C Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    (1) The inertially damped zone probably didn't extend around the entire rocket - just the upper stage. (2) The rocket could have been a nuclear heated rocket - maybe siphoning some antimatter from the warp core for a boost.
     
  16. JuanBolio

    JuanBolio Admiral Admiral

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    It was simply a more powerful ICBM than ones we have today. I don't think you really need to get into warp fields and inertial black magic to explain it getting into orbit.

    I'd like to know how all those people standing around outside right below the launch tube managed to avoid being incinerated.
     
  17. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    Could it also be that he just used the frame/body of the missile installed all new everything? That rocket engine for example could be a standard Russian Heavy Lift Engine or a Chinese Moon Rocket Engine.

    *shrug* The prototype warp-drive he hefted into orbit would be totally different than Archer's, Scotty's or Laforge's drive in almost every way... it wouldn't be a big old reaction chamber, exotic crystal, and massive unobtanium coil system fed by a tank of cryogenic matter and pods of antimatter.

    Heck I wouldn't be supprised if it was pure fission or fusion powered, just enough to prove the concept.
     
  18. CuttingEdge100

    CuttingEdge100 Commodore Commodore

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    Out of curiosity in TOS was it stated how Zephram Cochrane got his vessel into space?
     
  19. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nope.

    Just had Cochrane from the wrong planet, with a completely differently look and personality...
     
  20. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    23rd century Starfleet impulse engines are strictly Newtonian rockets, whether they be fusion (TOS) or M/AM (TMP) energized. As for inertial compensation during high-g maneuvers, I would assume that is a parallel function of whatever mechanism generates the space vehicle's artificial gravity field.

    *shrugs*

    A serviceable rationalization as any, I suppose.

    But from where could have Cochrane sourced the astronomical (by today's standards) quantities of anti-matter he required for the project if such is the case? That shantytown where he was building the Phoenix didn't exactly strike me as a place which would be equipped with its own dedicated Fermilab-like particle collider.

    TGT