Starship life spans?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Unicron, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    A Trek starship is generally under constant 1 gee internal stress, though. Plus, it seems that whenever a ship isn't at warp or docked to a starbase, she's under impulse acceleration which may be thousands of gees at times. At least there's no evidence that the ships would coast after impulse "burns", as opposed to running their engines constantly (the latter being the more sensible way to operate the ship anyway, since Starfleet would want to save time, not fuel).

    Whether internal gravity or impulse acceleration are significant stress factors depends on how the ships are built. Some ship designs today are simply immune to rusting, by choice of materials; some are immune to the impact of waves, easily withstanding something like a million years of such pounding unless something else gives first. Starships might be completely immune to mechanical stress up to thousands of gravities because of superior materials and the application of structural integrity fields.

    [quolte]...why don't new materials in the 24th century have a longer life expectancy from their 23rd century counterparts?

    [/QUOTE]

    It's quite possible that the Federation has already maxed out on the durability of construction materials. After all, some of the member cultures have been out there between stars for hundreds if not thousands of years already. If there were any room for improvement, they would have exploited it by now.

    Constant advances are atypical in a mature field of engineering: we haven't found anything significantly superior for aircraft construction since the use of aluminum was perfected in WWII, for example. Titanium and composites are ultimately fairly insignificant in aeronautics even today, being too expensive and difficult to handle. And aerodynamics for passenger planes have stayed the same since the sixties, since the perfect compromise has already been found.

    And no degree of engineering genius will ever produce an improved paper clip...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    There's definitely onscreen evidence of that, I agree. The there are at least three different versions of the same Klingon Bird of Prey--the original B'rel-class, a short-lived D12-class, and the larger scaled K'Vort-class.

    A similar philosophy could be said to have been behind the old D7- and K't'inga-class cruisers.

    Still, ship classifications could just boil down to cultural differences or preferences between the Klingon navy and Starfleet. If Starfleet shared the same mindset that the Klingon navy did, then the Excelsior-class Enterprise-B and the Lakota would have been both labeled as separate ship classes in their own right despite being identical in appearance.
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Just to nitpick, B'rel is the giant one seen and named by Worf in "Rascals", and earlier witnessed in "Yesterday's Enterprise" (where the people from the alternate timeline confusingly called it K'vort). The vessels from "The Defector" might be of B'rel class as well.

    K'vort in turn appears to be the midsize one flown by Martok and friends, at least according to some obscure Okudagrams. (No doubt the people in the alternate timeline of "Yesterday's Enterprise" would call that one B'rel!)

    D-12 seems midsize, probably the same as K'vort. But the original ship in ST4 was really, really tiny - and we might see further examples of that design in "Way of the Warrior" where tiny BoPs fly around.

    The identical exteriors might not be a stylistic point. Rather, they could be the result of simple series production, or then a reminder of the fact that Klingons themselves are poor shipwrights and merely recycle old (Hur'q?) designs over and over again.

    But the interiors would indeed probably differ a lot. The social structure of competing Houses would ensure as much: a House down on its luck would be forced to re-refit its old ships again and again, and would install the best sort of armaments it had access to. The Feds would equip their ships with more discipline and uniformity, but they would still effect fleetwide upgrades as time went by.

    They probably were, deep down in the maze of Starfleet accounting. It would just be a generic expression to call both of them Excelsior class, much like one might call all the wildly different kinds of, say, the F-4 fighter jet simply "Phantom II" and forget about the massive differences in role, equipment and performance.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    See, that's just WRONG. I hate to say it, but it is.

    "Weight" is not the issue here at all. Weight is simply the term we use to describe the force applied by a given mass under a given acceleration... the acceleration in question being that of gravity.

    It is true, then, that the ship is "weightless" but that is irrelevant. It is not MASSLESS, and it is not acceleration-less, either.

    In fact, the accelerations seen by these ships routinely exceed, by massive measures, that seen from gravity.

    the question of "structural integrity forcefields" and "inertial dampening forcefields" doesn't necessarily negate that... in fact, I'd think it would be quite the opposite. The IDF, as presented, is a forcefield that creates an opposing acceleration on the interior of the habitable areas of the ship, in order to avoid turning the crew into strawberry jam against the bulkheads when the ship makes even just "routine" maneuevers (much less extreme ones!). But remember... "for ever action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." So, it seems to me that in order for an IDF to work, you'd really need to have your hull be TWICE as strong... it's not only taking the forces of acceleration, but also the forces of "anti-acceleration" which are being put into place to protect the crew.

    Clearly, this is what was in mind when they came up with the whole concept of the SIF. There was simply no way that a ship would be able to handle those massive accelerations except by, for all practical purposes, having the "framework" of the ship be as much energy as it is matter.

    If the ship is stationary, and under no forces (weight, remember, being only a situation-specific term for force), your point is right... float it in space under zero acceleration, and it will never be stressed.

    Go to impulse fast enough to accelerate out of the solar system in a matter of hours rather than years, and you're putting a MASSIVE amount of acceleration, and thus mechanical stress, on the system.

    Like I said, this is all "moot" for now... we don't have any REAL spacecraft at the Trek-nology levels, and who knows when/if we ever will.

    But we DO have (1) basic physics, (2) "treknology" as it has been established, and (3) anecdotal evidence of how long ships typically last "in-fiction." None of those support the idea that ships would last for any more than a few decades in the Trek universe.

    Oh... and welcome back. Nice to see ya...
     
  5. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not really going to argue that, but maybe it's because of varying scales of the Bird of Prey onscreen that the DS9 Tech Manual, Star Trek Encyclopedia and Starship Spotter all list the B'rel-class as being considerably smaller than the K'Vort-class and the D12 as an interim design.

    I'll simply call the B'rel-class the predecessor to the K'Vort and leave it at that.

    Maybe because Starfleet has so many different starship classes that for the sake of simplicity, variants are only listed as such when necessary.
     
  6. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    The KSRM also avoided the whole set of issues that sprung up with the BOP in canon. They had no less than five variants, and a clear set of statistics for each. They also had a definitive origin, which is something fans have discussed for years because the ship in TSFS was originally planned to be Romulan. The Romulans did develop the original design in the RPG, and gave some hulls to the Klingons as part of their alliance. It was the Klingons who decided to scale up the design and build bigger versions, and the Romulans weren't happy about such "tampering."

    [​IMG]
     
  7. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    The irony of all that, though, is that Klingon ships were described as warbirds in ENT's "Broken Bow".

    As a result, we could say that if the Klingons took the bird-of-prey concept from the Romulans, the Romulans returned the favor by taking the warbird designation from the Klingons...but I think I'm starting to drift off-topic here...
     
  8. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    Yeah, the production staff admitted that calling them warbirds was a mistake. The BOP designation is Romulan, as the class was named in honor of the original V-8 cruisers. Since the canon names for the different classes did not exist when the RPG was made, the Klingon classes translate to "Great Bird" and the like.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Newtype_A

    Newtype_A Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I know all that. I'm pointing out the fact that the ship is not subject to a constant external accelerative force throughout the entire balance of its lifetime like naval vessels and aircraft. The lack of that force means the lack of weight; the lack of weight means the lack of long term stress on a particular load-bearing point. So if you break the keel of a starship, it's not going to collapse under its own weight, because no part of the ship has to support the weight of any OTHER part of the ship.

    As far as this applies for longevity, it means that under rest conditions, or while flying at warp, no part of the ship is experiencing any significant mechanical stress. In those situations, the should would still hold together even if the entire space frame were made out of cardboard; no loads, no stress.

    As I already pointed out, inertial dampening fields don't appear to work that way. Any device that could compensate for that much acceleration uniformly for every single object on the ship would actually BE a propulsive force acting on the entire ship. Besides the point I already made: if the CREW are not being thrown into the bulkhead at fifteen thousand gravities, then neither is spaceframe. And artificial gravity doesn't appear to be a structural problem either, since each deck has its own grav plating; it would appear the gravitational fields truncate at the ceiling above them, so the only load-bearing structures on the ship have to support the weight of anything that is directly above them, and nothing else.

    Think about the physics involved here, Cary. Even assuming the IDF only works INSIDE the ship, then you've got a system that is applying tens of thousands of gees of acceleration to everything inside the ship at any given time; say the interior, affected by the IDF, has a mass of X.
    X is being accelerated forward at, say, 15,000m/s^2. Even if the EXTERIOR of the ship (hull plating, engines, some weapons) weighs half of X, all that kinetic energy still transfers. Action, reaction. So the same acceleration the IDF gives to the interior is ALSO given to the exterior in the opposite direction. In short, you end up with two propulsive forces working against each other; the ship either peels itself like a banana, or the acceleration from the engines and the acceleration from the IDF fields cancel each other out.

    The much more likely scenario is that IDF fields are simply a functionality of artificial gravity; you can very the intensity of the gravity field in certain areas of the deck to pull the crew and some of the furniture in one direction or another to counteract some sudden movement, like something crashing into the ship at hundreds of miles per hour. Of course, on at least one plane, the pendulum effect comes into play; every time the IDF fields move the furniture, the furniture moves the ship (as Riker apparently understood when he shut off the inertial dampeners in "The Chase" to make it look like Enterprise had lost attitude control).

    I don't think so. As far as I can tell, SIF fields only come into play when some part of the ship's internal structure has actually been compromised and preventing the risk of nasty things like explosive decompression, tractor beams, shock damage from weapons or objects hitting the ship. Being integrated into the spaceframe makes plenty of sense; in the same way IDF is a shock absorber for the crew, SIF would be a shock observer for the ship.

    I don't think we're looking at that much acceleration AT ALL, considering the presence of subspace fields throws the entire balance of forces completely out of whack. At the very least we've seen a space station use those subspace fields to lower its effective inertia enough that a handful of thrusters could push it across the solar system in a single day. Starships--which do this by DESIGN--would find the same feat much easier to do. And this is equally true of space craft that aren't even warp capable; it would seem the ability to create a subspace field by some means or another is as fundamental to space flight as wings are to aircraft, and probably not at all difficult to do.

    Either way, we have what we see. For some reason, nothing inside the ship is subjected to the massive accelerative forces you describe here. This leads us to one of two conclusions: either those forces are present but do not affect the ship's interior (above, I tried to show this is implausible) or those forces are NOT actually present, because starships are not using pure acceleration to attain high speed. Given the tendency of starships to inexplicably "stop" in deep space, I think the latter explanation is a bit more likely.

    Well, we do have the Stargazer which, judging by the configuration of its bridge, could easily have been seventy years old by the time it was abandoned; seemingly, built around the TWOK-TSFS years. It's a question of whether or not the ship would still be in service if it hadn't been wrecked at the Battle of Maxia; an even bigger question is what Starfleet did with it AFTER the Ferengi gave it back to them. Part of me thinks they refurbished it and put it back in service, but that's just bias because I think it's a really cool ship.

    Thank you.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Even though no Romulan vessel has ever been referred to as "Bird of Prey" in any canon material?

    The bird names are actually distributed somewhat in favor of Klingons. Romulans have the Warbird, but Klingons have their own Warbird (at least according to those Vulcans), the Bird of Prey, and the Raptor.

    As for which of these names are actual native designations, which are (Vulcan?) translations, and which are Starfleet codenames... I'd tend to argue that the Klingons themselves speak of "D-7c" while Starfleet says "K't'inga class battle cruiser" and Vulcans say "Klingon Warbird".

    After all, Kor used the D designations in the Klingon-Klingon chat of "Once More Unto the Breach", while things like B'rel or K'vort have only been uttered by Starfleet heroes, and Vulcans/Romulans would probably be the ones with the original bird fetish and the interest in extending that worldview to alien starcraft as well.

    As for warp being acceleration-free, difficult to tell anything for certain. Certainly the stresses are unlikely to be directly proportional to speed, but OTOH there is no direct evidence that propulsive warp fields would make the object within completely inertialess. There is canon evidence that some variants of warp field do reduce inertia, though.

    Yet even if warp is inertialess, it would seem to be a continuum of various inertialess states, with shifting between those states when the ship accelerates, decelerates or turns at warp. That may impose mechanical stresses of its own on the ship. And we can't discount the possibility that being enclosed in a warp field is inherently stressful to matter somehow.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    Yep, that's true. The BOP terminology was never used for any of the Romulan ships, but FASA did call it that. Actually, they created a Romulan term for the V-8 cruiser which translated into English as "bird of prey." This English term was then used for the movie design when the RSRM was published, because it was the successor to the V-8, and similar Klingon names were invented for the BOP variants in the KSRM. The Romulans produced a second variant, based on the larger Klingon L-42 "Great Bird" frigate (which I personally consider to be the K'vort for FASA), and this was their way of getting back at the Klingons for "messing" with the scale and capabilities of the original BOP scout design.

    I rather like the SFC3 Romulan ships, all of which have bird names.
     
  12. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I heard the term "Bird of Prey" used to describe the Romulan ship design since... I believe the first time I heard the name was in 1974. It was used pretty much exclusively after that, until ST-III came along.

    There is one exception, however. In Lou Zocchi's "Starfleet Battle Manual" he referred to this ship as a "Warbird." However, he did so to avoid putting himself at legal jeopardy. He was basically tapdancing around legalities there... so instead of a "Romulan Bird of Prey" it was an "R-Type Warbird" and instead of a "Klingon Battlecruiser" it was a "K-Type Battlecruiser." He never used the term Star trek, or any of the established Trek terms, either. He was very careful to avoid using any Trek-specific words. Still, he got into some legal threat at one point, so he renamed the entire game to "Alien Space" and came up with his own ship concepts. Eventually, the legal threat diminished (not sure exactly how) and he started shipping a revised "Starfleet Battle Manual" again.

    So, the first use of the term "warbird" was by Lou Zocchi. The first use of the term "Bird of Prey," as I recall, was by Roddenberry.

    Now, the early scripts for ST-III had the Klingons stealing a cloaked Romulan ship in order to undertake their espionage mission. Eventually, that line got trimmed out, but they never bothered to rename the ship in the script. So, the first appearance of the term "Klingon Bird of Prey" was really a script-editing snafu.

    Ultimately, though, this is all sort of academic, regardless of whether you look at it "in-fiction" or "in reality." Because in reality, the term has been used for both, and because in-fiction, neither race speaks the same language and "Bird of Prey" or "Warbird" are simply the closest ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS of whatever the native words actually are.

    So it's really a lot of argument over nothing meaningful. ;)