Launching the Phoenix

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

  1. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The problem with the 'newtonian physics' for the impulse drive, TGT, is that Roddenberry ALSO says that they're fusion engines, and fusion doesn't work that way.

    At any rate, even if there were, there's no reason at all that the Phoenix (indeed, any warp-based ship) couldn't just have the 'warp field' envelop the ship and keep the 'nuclear rockets' for thrust. Remember, relative within the warp field, the ship doesn't have to go ALL THAT FAST to worry too much about inertial dampening anyway - since the mass within the field is normalized and the inertia is only what the relative /non-warp/ velocity would be.

    Yeah, still, we ARE talking insane numbers here, mind you, but SOMETHING has to normalize the cabin.
     
  2. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    In what sense, exactly? Thermonuclear fusion rockets for space vehicle propulsion applications have been rigorously analyzed since the 1960s (Example 1, Example 2, Example 3).

    TGT
     
  3. aridas sofia

    aridas sofia Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Where did Roddenberry state that the impulse engines were fusion-powered? In TMoST, Whitfield and Roddenberry tell us the impulse drive can run for a month before their fuel is exhausted, but nothing about their power source. I vaguely remember reading them described as "atomic powered" and the sheet accompanying the AMT model said they employed the same principal of propulsion as "rockets". But I don't recall ever seeing Roddenberry describe the original ship as having a fusion-powered impulse drive.
     
  4. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    The Doomsday Machine states that overloading (I think - lemme spin the DVD to confirm) the impulse engines will cause a "fusion explosion", so the credit for this particular data point may have to go to Norman Spinrad. :)

    TGT
     
  5. aridas sofia

    aridas sofia Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Of course. Forgive my momentary lapse. ;)
     
  6. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    First recite the Three Hail Genes, buy something from Lincoln Enterprises, and go and sin no more. :devil: Oh, BTW, from the R1DVD (0:41:27):

    Kirk: "Spock, listen. Maybe Matt Decker didn't die for nothing. He had the right idea, but not enough power to do it. Am I correct in assuming that a fusion explosion of 97 megatons will result if a starship impulse engine is overloaded?"

    Spock: "No, sir. 97.835 megatons."

    TGT
     
  7. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ...which was my point. If a "Subspace field" to reduce the mass of a Titan II rocket would have a deleterious effect on the Newtonian thrust of the rocket exhaust, then the 23rd century impulse engines would have the exact same problem due to those spiffy inertial dampeners.
     
  8. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    I fail to see the connection. :confused:

    TGT
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If people of his era really had mastered gravity and inertia, it sounds likely that there would be a shining white Mr Fusion appliance in every kitchen - and an antimatter generator for every forward airstrip, ready to supply the tactical aircraft on their sorties against hovertank formations.

    Frankly, I see nothing wrong with the "mad scientist launches his own rocket" idea in the Star Trek 2060s timeframe. It would be a bit implausible in our 2060s, or in the Trek 1990s, but not really for a culture that has mastered interplanetary travel in the 1990s and gone secretly interstellar with that tech soon thereafter.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Gep Malakai

    Gep Malakai Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The inertial dampeners reduce the mass of the propellant being expelled from the impulse engines, thus resulting in the same problem for the starships as you pointed out for the rocket. Because dress the terms up however, both the Enterprise and the Titan missile are inertially dampened rockets; if the dampening impacts the performance of the missile, it should impact the performance of a starship too.
     
  11. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    Sez who? I always assumed they functioned by inducing a gravitational potential in the direction of spacecraft acceleration.

    TGT
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Which would probably help with the fact that the supposed "nozzles" aren't anywhere near the obvious trust line...

    But if we accept the TNG Tech Manual idea that the motion is the result of acceleration of propellant from the nozzles, and some sort of inertial manipulation thereof, then we might have a win-win scenario. Perhaps the momentum that the ship gets from this can be applied in whichever direction, by "field magic", but the momentum has to be created first, and this requires allowing the propellant to spray out across sufficiently many meters of free space in traditional rocket fashion? And this is why, out of all the possible arbitrary placements for the nozzles, they are placed where they also work as traditional rockets.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    Since we don't know how the mass of the (probably crammed) warp nacelles of the NCC-1701 compare to that of her mostly hollow secondary hull and neck, I don't think you are in any position to arbitrarily declare that the impulse engine nozzles "aren't anywhere near the obvious thrust line..."

    TGT
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, that's only a problem for your particular creed. ;) If one takes into account more of the movies, one can see that the placements in TMP and ST2 don't agree - either the Enterprise or the Reliant is mis-designed, and possibly both.

    (I'd have much preferred if the Reliant had featured the sort of hull that preserved the thrust line, of course. But the TOS shuttle already rather violates the precedent of the mothership, unless the balance of component densities in the small craft is the complete reverse of that precedent.)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    Double post, having some Open Office buffer issues here.
     
  16. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    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[/quote]

    Trying to cram all the goodies of a "modern" warp drive into an ICBM will just make your head hurt. We are limited in what we can carry, and we are limited by the tech level of the era. I can accept that we will have inertia and gravity control in our lifetimes, and fusion as well. Antimatter production on a "massive" scale, not so much.

    I highly doubt it carried that huge quantities of matter and antimatter or anything resembling a modern warp core at all. This thing was being built on a budget as a proof of concept, not a heavy-cruiser on a rocket.

    The drive could have been powered by a small fusion reaction... after all they only hit warp 1 (or was it a wee bit higher?) and sustained it for a few moments. Heck a couple of friends and I postulated that maybe the drive ran off the scavenged nuclear warheads from the missiles. A combination fission ignited fusion bomb, detonated in a vac chamber and the resulting power (gamma rays/neutron stream) directed to the nacelles where it energized the crude coils.

    The prototype for a design often looks nothing like its descendants... and I doubt the prototype warp-drive had all the features and abilities of a "modern" era warp-drive.

    After that all important proof-of-concept flight when research hits high gear in the "big labs" things like focusing crystals, antimatter fuel for higher energy output and stuff like that will come into play. Exotic materials for coils comes later, with the "first" coils being made out of "mundane" exotic materials found in the earth's crust and around the solar system.

    Zephram wasn't trying to build a full-fledged starship-on-a-rocket he was trying to prove his design to get more funding. All he needed was proof that he could reach lightspeed/go past it by a small fraction and the money would pour in... and he would retire to an island full of naked girls.

    One more note. Nuclear fission "steam kettle" rockets actually worked in trials but there were issues with the material science of the cores, no material known can stand that level of thermal and neutron flux for long. Say the problem is solved by the time of the Pheonix. You have a small high-temp fission reactor "steam kettle" drive for the upper stage, a powerful "modern" chemical drive for the first stage.

    So you got your small fission reactor (size of a 50 gallon drum) providing thrust, you have your small "exotic" reactor (size of two 50 gallon drums) providing juice to the nacelles, that leaves room for the inertial and gravity control stuff, computers, life support and fuel along with the servos to move the nacelles into position.

    There you have it. One crude single-shot warp rocket according to my understanding of science, engineering and Treknology. :)
     
  17. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They have, but they've largely been dismissed, largely due to efficiency issues. Sustaining a fusion reaction requires a lot of energy to do. The problem these articles often fail to point out is that nuclear power isn't exactly 'mass-shockwave-propellent' type. It's mostly just heat and miniscule mass.

    The reaction doesn't just exploded like chemical thrust, or act like a mini ICBM going off. Even with ICBMs the bulk of the 'shockwave reaction' is caused by the sudden heat differential in the atmosphere.



    The key line from all three articles is this: "[FONT=Times New Roman]Fusion reactions release an enormous amount of energy, which is why researchers are devising ways to harness that energy into a propulsion system.[/FONT]"

    This means that the fusion reaction itself is not directly harnessable for this purpose. They haven't yet devised a practical way to convert the enormous energy from fusion reactions into thrust. After all, that's why there's WATER in nuclear power plants, it's not coolant, it's actually the power drive. The STEAM moves the turbines.

    That's the problem with the interpretation that Roddenberry used in the writer's bible... "Nuclear Rocket" is a 1950's sci-fi 'future-tech' sounding thing, but it's utterly rediculous to real-world science.
     
  18. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    Is there a side-view of the Phoenix done in schematic form somewhere? And one of the "ICBM" it was created from?

    I can envision what I described above, I need the rough outlines of both so I can "cram" all the flight equipment inside.
     
  19. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, the Phoenix used two types of Titan missiles, depending on which shot, and there's notable differences between the two, unfortunately. I'm not sure which the official version is supposed to be.
     
  20. JuanBolio

    JuanBolio Admiral Admiral

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    If you overlook the fact that they're well off the center-of-mass axis (probably), you still have the problem that fusion rockets would require more propellant than the Enterprise is capable of storing within its entire volume in order to have any appreciable deltaV.