Saucer Separation

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by xvicente, May 2, 2013.

  1. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Well, essentially shields are forcefields by any other name and they've been used in a variety of different applications in various Trek episodes from defensive, to containment, to structural integrity.
    Given that no order was given to drop the shields around the barge, it seems that they remained around it during the flight.
    Which is really why the use of the shields to help keep the otherwise disintegrating barge together is the most plausible idea. They certainly weren't for protecting the Enterprise from the radiation (wouldn't it have been better not to stretch them around the barge in that case?) and if they weren't considered necessary for going through the asteroid field in the original plan.
    I believe in the above transcript, LaForge was simply stating their current situation while thinking what options were available to him in regards to the tractor beam. But it can also be looked at as being a case that they had one system (a tractor beam) operating within another (the deflector shields) and that latter was having an impact on the former.
    If that was truly the case, it really wouldn't have been necessary to get rid of the barge. They could have merely positioned it at any point clear of the planet and left it there indefinitely.

    But--and I believe this to be most likely--it was a case that they wanted an environmentally-free system (no irradiated zones or spacelanes), then getting completely rid of the barge was the thing to do. It just turned out to be more troublesome than they thought it would be and dangerous than they liked it to be.
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Yet if the order was given offscreen to reset the shields to surrounding the Enterprise only, the episode would play out just as we saw. The best possible way for Riker to proceed would have been to create two shield bubbles: one around the barge, to keep the radiation in, and one around his own ship, to keep radiation out. The barge bubble would have been vital as long as they were near the planet, and useful but not vital later on. Alas, creating two shield bubbles with one ship doesn't appear possible in the Trek universe.

    Indeed, we could argue that LaForge would in all scenarios have a need to constantly ramp up the shields, and his only option for boosting barge integrity, the use of a stronger tractor beam, would conflict with this. That is, the need to ramp up shields was not directly related to Riker's demand for greater towing integrity.

    Quite so. But long dissipation time is not a sufficient rationalization for why they had to tow it all the way to the sun. We have to invent something stronger to justify the odd towing decision; even with a half-time of billions of years, the barge could always have been left floating at a spot that did not call for the close attentions of the E-D and her vulnerable crew. After all, the barge was only a danger to the planet after settling on a low orbit; any other orbit would do just dandy to allow Riker to cut off the tractor beam and go rescue Picard.

    The barge was a danger to the planet at a distance of, oh, let's say a thousand kilometers by the visuals, but we can pick five thousand as well. Leaving a zone ten thousand kilometers across somewhere within the system solely reserved for the barge would not affect traffic in any way - it would take a cosmic coincidence for any other spacecraft to ever enter that volume, and even if they did, they could always sail out of it before any harm came to them.

    The basic premise of the episode, unfortunately for the writers who obviously wanted something else, was that the barge was harmless. It would remain harmless in any location other than the low planetary orbit; indeed, it had remained harmless since ancient times until ending up at that orbit, and obviously it wouldn't reach another dangerous orbit ever again, what with the propulsion systems gone.

    Indeed, we have to wonder why the barge originally established this harmful orbit, supposedly using the last of its engine power (even if the main reactors had been shut down 300 years prior). Was this for sinister purposes, a "dirty bomb" attack that failed due to rusted-out hardware? Was it an industrial operation misperformed by an out-of-date automaton, a harmless cargo transfer maneuver intended to have taken place in another star system millennia ago? Did the vessel perhaps originally carry a beneficial cargo that had gone sour and killed her crew, or had gone sour because something had killed the crew? A simple "distant aliens get rid of waste by immorally careless means" story doesn't wash, because the ship could simply have been sent to the local sun then - and if that mission failed, there'd be no mechanism by which the ship would then proceed to orbit a faraway planet.

    If we're to do the thinking the writers neglected, we could just as well theorize that the barge was launched by the Gamelans themselves - either centuries prior, after which she was forgotten until she looped back due to a programming glitch (or started radiating because the originally harmless cargo rotted somehow), or then fairly recently, and the Gamelans just deceived the Federation into doing their dirty work for them...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Richard Baker

    Richard Baker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't see why they could not have just dragged the barge with the tractor beam upwards out of the orbital plane and gone back later. Most of Trek considers ship/planetary orbits on a single plane- just discard that two dimensional thinking and move it at right angles to that plane. No asteroids or planets will be close and you could return whenever you wanted to for a proper disposal...
     
  4. xvicente

    xvicente Captain Captain

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    All these pain could have been averted if only "they" had said to "the designer" that the ship would have to separate in two beforehand.

    But that was in 1986. ok.

    speculation:
    "they"=G.Roddenberry
    "the designer" = A. Aprobert
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, planets orbiting out of the plane of the star's rotation, or out of the plane in which the majority of the planets in the system orbit, is fairly commonplace in Star Trek. Virtually every star system schematic we have seen in Trek has featured at least one planet orbiting at an odd angle...

    Whether asteroids would be in a nice plane depends on how old they are. In Trek, there are plenty of cataclysms that could create asteroid rubble late in the life cycle of a star system, mere geological moments before our heroes arrive; fully spherical asteroid "shells" around stars might be quite common.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. xvicente

    xvicente Captain Captain

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    That's no warp engine, according to Andrew Probert:

    source: http://www.trekplace.com/ap2005int01.html

    Aft saucer module of Enterprise-D

    Probert: They were just supposed to be more windows. Probably lounges of some sort, if I recall, but again, what you're seeing are windows that are broken up. I think that there were larger windows initially.
     
  7. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Interesting read.
     
  8. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Locutus was created to be a spokesdrone for the Borg. So it stands to reason that the collective would create a place for his use that was designed to make him visible.
     
  9. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    I never bought that whole idea that Locutus was meant to speak for the Borg. Honestly, were the Borg going to negotiate or something? "Okay, we'll give you transwarp drive, and you'll allow us to assimilate all Humans. Seem fair to you?"

    To me, the Borg Queen wanted Picard to speak for the Borg more as an example: "This is what we're going to do to you. See? We got your most famous captain from a heavily armed ship. You can't defend yourselves against us." It was all an effort to show Humans that the Borg were large and in charge. Forcing Picard to watch the battle from that viewing area was another thing. Instead of just letting Picard be aware of what was happening, the Queen made him watch it. It's like the difference between hearing about a big plane crash on the news and watching the plane crash in person.
     
  10. Takeru

    Takeru Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Doesn't matter, he's not an authority on what is what, as long as it's not mentioned on screen it's just a glowy thing on the saucer that could be a warp drive.
     
  11. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    In what way is Andrew Probert not an authority on what is what, on the Enterprise-D?
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Well, Probert is the ultimate authority on what was intended when these features were designed. Practical execution is another matter (the people who lit the windows are the authorities on the issue of the "warp glow" and what was intended by it, and the writers are the authorities on what the saucer can do, scriptwise), and ultimately even this is subservient to the impression that the audience gets. Naturally, the audience is the authority on that final issue. :)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Takeru

    Takeru Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In the way that the Enterprise-D is not real, Andrew Probert didn't design a spaceship, he designed the shape of a thing that everyone pretends is a spaceship. His intentions of what is what are just that, intentions. He intended the saucer rim to be one deck for example but we all know that the show made it two decks, what ends up on screen counts, everything else does not.

    What he intended to be windows was never identified as such on the show, that means it's just an unidentified glowy thing on the saucer, there's no proof that it's not a warp drive.
     
  14. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    That doesn't mean he's not an authority. What it means is that he's not the sole authority, which of course makes sense, because TNG was a collaboration.
     
  15. xvicente

    xvicente Captain Captain

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    And who can say a warp engine has to glow blue?

    Did anyone watch Rambo III?
     
  16. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    I have wondered and wondered about those blue squares for years. Somehow a not-completely-canon explanation that they are windows is not satisfying at all.
     
  17. xvicente

    xvicente Captain Captain

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    Sometimes a blue light is only a blue light.
     
  18. Takeru

    Takeru Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    And sometimes it's a warp drive.:p
     
  19. Third Nacelle

    Third Nacelle Captain Captain

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    I've figured it out! It's the dolphin tank! They'd want windows, right?
     
  20. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ah so the Dolphins are the power behind the Federation and Section 31! I guess the Whale Probe was sent to bring humanity into line!