Saucer Separation

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

  1. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    At this point you then have to come up with a reason for the saucer NOT to be equipped with a warp drive of some capacity.

    In the Star Trek universe, every vessel above the size of a work-bee gets to have a warp drive. A two person shuttle pod is so equipped. What possible reason could there be for the designers of the saucer to make the conscious decision to exclude a warp drive? I'm not talking about some monster warp nine plus propulsion, but something in the warp three or four realm. Starfleet does seem to favor external nacelles, however they are apparently not a requirement, many of the non-Starfleet ships we see do not have external nacelles. As a emergency only propulsion, enclosing a warp drive internally in the area aft of the main shuttle bay may have been deemed sufficient.

    As noted above, something the size of a two person shuttlepods has a warp drive.

    It would seem to me, given missions of long range exploration out in the Federation's "boonies" and beyond, that the Enterprise's lifeboats would all have a warp drive. Depending on where the abandoning of the ship occurred, rescue might be years in the future.

    If the first can have a warp drive ... why not the second?

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    :)
     
  2. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Because an escape pod isn't a shuttlecraft. Not all vehicles have the same capabilities, regardless if some are nearly the same size. If anything, most of an escape pod's systems would be dedicated to the long-term survival of its refugees. The more systems you dedicate away from that, the less effective it becomes as an escape pod.
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    It should be noted that there are no episodes of TNG or DS9 that would give a craft designated "shuttlepod" or portrayed by the Type 15 or Type 18 miniatures (or the joint prop) warp capacity.

    That is, while sometimes these craft travel "on their own", they are never credited with interstellar journeys, merely with assorted arrivals or departures; they are never stated to be at warp; they are never shown to be at warp; and the nacelles of Type 15 are actually explicated as impulse engines in a readable graphic in "Descent", verifying for a rare once the designers' intent.

    We could deduce, then, that the difference between a shuttle and a shuttlepod lies in the latter's inability to accommodate warp engines. Impulse engines, yes. Subspace engines, very definitely (the "Descent" graphic and "Destiny" dialogue establish the pods to have the ability to generate subspace fields with their engines). But not warp engines.

    It might be technologically flat out impossible to equip a lifepod with warp drive, then. Or then merely challenging and expensive and not worth the hassle. The interiors of Type 15 and Type 18 suggest that "impulse nacelles" or "impulse cowlings" are relatively standalone pieces of hardware, not taking up further room inside the hull with their subsystems or whatnot, so those could perhaps be bolted onto lifepods, too. But warp engines might be a different matter, requiring at least the underfloor or back compartment volumes supposedly available in the shuttlecraft. The difference in size isn't all that great, though, so most probably it's a matter of warp engines simply being way too "expensive" (in terms of materials or power costs or something like that) to be used willy-nilly on any small craft.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. Lee Enfield

    Lee Enfield Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I want to add, that the sheer volume and size of the saucer section might be the reason it has no warp drive.
    To generate a warp field (big enough to transport that mass) the whole warp system woud certainly have to have a drive, comparable to that of the battle section. That means less space on the saucer for labs asf.
    So, actually, it could be easier to generate a warp field around a smaller object - because it's mass-dependant.

    ...And remember, that the warp nacelles (almost?) always reflect the size of the the ship to carry?!
     
  5. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, that's a good point.
     
  6. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    One has to wonder then...

    If La Forge went to Risa in a shuttlepod (before he was kidnapped by the Romulans), how far away was he? If it was a long way, did he really spend several years in a shuttle pod? And if he was so close that it would only take a day or two, why didn't the Enterprise just take three seconds and warp him over there?
     
  7. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    Well, hang on...

    The saucer section is large, so it has plenty of space for a warp core. And those big nacelles are what's required to move the stardrive AND the saucer. Thye saucer by itself has a smaller mass, so it wouldn't require such large nacelles (if nacelle size indeed has a relation to the mass being moved.)
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    There are dozens of episodes where the heroes take a shuttle to visit a civilized starport, while the ship isn't on Red Alert and could just as well go orbit the planet and beam down the heroes.

    On the other hand, there are episodes where our heroes drop their starship to impulse well before going into a star system, even though they are on Red Alert and in extreme hurry. And there are even instances when our heroes claim that going to warp within a star system would be a problem, even though some 99% of cases feature effortless insystem warping.

    And then there are episodes where high warp within a star system amounts to crawling speed...

    We might decide that certain star systems, perhaps during bouts of adverse subspace weather, make it very difficult for a starship to ply a warp path to the target world, and going by warp won't be any faster than going by impulse. In such conditions, there's no point in using the ship, as she has to waste time both going in and getting out. Better to drop off the required heroes in a shuttle, with or without warp drive, and use that shuttle to sail in at impulse speeds.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Lee Enfield

    Lee Enfield Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I agree that those nacelles are supposed to carry the whole ship. Hence the size of them.

    But most of the Enterprises mass rests in the saucer! I can't link you directly to images that show the size difference - but google it - and compare these sections to each other. This becomes especially obious if you study, either, the Whitfire or the Sternbach Blueprints.
    And although extra nacelles for the saucer could be smaller (since it's not the whole ship - but, still, those would still be pretty big), the saucer would have to compromise space for them.

    The whole point of the saucer is to provide space for labs, quarters, jeffery tubes, support system, shuttlebay, stellar cartography, lounges, cargo bay, main computer ... Basically the whole ship is in that saucer.
    The Battle section holds the primary science sensor devices (Deflector) and everything that makes the warp engine go (Engine room, deuterium cargo, plasma transfer system).
    As I understand it, the Saucer is supposed to get everyone and everything evacuated and left in a safe region of space (far away from danger), while the battle section would engage in immediate battle - as long as there is seperation time! No scientific data loss, and more important, no civil life loss if the battle section gets destroyed.

    Perhaps you could build in a small nacelle system. But you lose space for what was actually intended to be there or you need to put them outside.
     
  10. xvicente

    xvicente Captain Captain

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    IIRC, Matt Jefferies on designing the original Enterprise invented the nacelles reasoning dealing with superpowerful energies was dangerous and then they not only must be kept away from the crew, but be easily detachable from the ship.

    If the Enterprise-D follow same principles,
     
  11. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    Actually, there are a few things in the stardrive that would make it much more massive for its volume than the saucer.

    First of all, you have the huge tank full of deuterium slush at the top of secondary hull, right underneath the neck. That's pretty much filled with a giant slushee, so that will add quite a bit of weight.

    Secondly, you have the deflector dish, a huge piece of machinary with a huge amount of stuff behind it as well, if the master systems display is anything to go by.

    Thirdly, you have the warp coils. A few dozen HUGE blocks of solid metal inside each warp nacelle. Probably half the volume of each nacelle is made up of these things.

    The saucer, on the other hand, has lots of empty space.
     
  12. Lee Enfield

    Lee Enfield Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Well, I agree that the deuterium tanks are big. And a cubic centimeter of deuterium might even be heavier than a cubic centimeter hydrogen.- so, there is certainly a lot of mass there. But think about all that metal and what not resting in saucer. In the saucer, more room is filled with denser matter. The battle section would probably fit 2-3 times in the saucer volume!

    I don't agree with the deflector-point. We don't know much about the materials used for it ( FC states its loaded wit anti-protons - not quite heavy stuff.). But the saucer has enough comparable architecture 3 or 4 time the volume of the deflector dish. On the contrary: I'd even state, that the deflector dish takes away from the potential to have more mass in the battle section.

    Considering the nacelles... it's a little weird to count them in. The point is, the volume and the mass of the nacelles aren't really important, because we're talking about how big the nacalles should be to carry a certain mass.

    If we can make one point then we would have to say that the nacelles could be even smaller, if just used with the battle section.





    But don't let us get drawn away! The point was that you need to give up space in the saucer section, if the saucer is supposed to have warp drive. But, in the eyes of starfleet, this could have rendered the ship useless to them. It's still a scientific vessel.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The thing is, the saucer is so immense that not even its designers could think of enough stuff to fill it with... That is, I doubt Probert designed complete innards, and when Whitefire and Sternbach did their respective takes, they had to resort to massive empty volumes dubiously reserved for purposes that did not really call for them. Indeed, Sternbach's official blueprints leave the very area beneath the mystery windows undescribed - there's just a big cavity in there, perhaps because he didn't want the secrets of the saucer warp engines to fall in Klingon hands... :devil:

    So the very reason the saucer is that big might be because Starfleet wanted warp engines in there. The 1014 crew and passengers are just rattling in the remaining spaces, waiting for the 10,000 evacuees or troops to come aboard, or for some other eventuality to fill up the volume defined by the combination of a warp drive and a nicely elliptical saucer big enough to house that.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. Richard Baker

    Richard Baker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Ed Whitefire had a Casino/Recreation area underneath the big blue windows at the back of the saucer. The forward section of the saucer featured a 3/4 level open space with trees, suspended walkways and an orchestra/stage area towards the front with the hull windows acting as a backdrop.
    His blueprints are very nice, they are free 'packing material' when you buy a custom mailing tube...
    I never did care too much for the Dolphin access areas in the other set- they did show up on Seaquest though.
     
  15. BennieGamali

    BennieGamali Commander Red Shirt

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    Maybe i'm simple.. But I thought it was cool. And cool things need not make sense. Some times we just need to let the cool be cool.
     
  16. Lee Enfield

    Lee Enfield Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I basically agree with you. Though I think the Whitfire Blueprints had filled the saucer with much good stuff - It just wasn't that detailed-, I agree that Sternbachs blueprint had a lot of redundant detail.

    Do you mean, it didn't make sense where they placed things?
     
  17. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    I think you misunderstand what I'm saying. Overall, the saucer would be LESS dense than the stardrive. After all, the stardrive has all the equipment in it - the warp and main impulse engines, the deuterium tanks, antimatter generators, and all the equipment that sits behind the deflector dish (which goes back quite a way - LINK), as well as two torpedo launchers and the associated torpedoes. On the other hand, the saucer section is mostly empty space, just rooms and labs and the giant hole of the main shuttlebay. The heaviest part of the saucer would probably be the twin impulse engines, but as they are designed to move just the saucer, not the full ship, the two of them combined would still be smaller than the main impulse engine in the neck.

    So, going by volume, yes, I agree that the saucer is much larger. But the mass would still, I think, be less.

    As I said beofre, it's not just the dish, it's all the gizmos behind it as well. The huge array of sensors, etc.

    But the nacelles also have to carry their own mass, remember. It's similar to rockets. You have to take the weight of the rocket fuel into account when deciding how much rocket fuel you need.

    I'd agree with that.

    Maybe, maybe not. We'll never know.

    But my point was just that any warp drive system that was designed to move just the saucer by itself would certainly not need to be as large or as powerful as a warp drive system that was designed to move that same saucer as well as the stardrive section also.
     
  18. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Twice as heavy.

    And the nacelles are designed to carry the whole ship at a cruising speed of warp 9.6.

    If the warp drive in the saucer were design to cruise at only warp 3, then it makes sense (to me) that it would be smaller than if the saucer's warp drive was intended to move the saucer at warp 9.6.

    :)
     
  19. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    even if they fitted the saucer with those "sustainer coils" that they apparently put inside photon torpedoes, so they could release the saucer at a low warp speed and it would keep going.
     
  20. Keith1701

    Keith1701 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Very True!!, and I think we only saw the Saucer Separation a few times during the entire 7 year series.