TOS shuttle power sources.

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Rulius, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. Rulius

    Rulius Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In the TOS forum the discussion of the Galileo Seven episode prompted me to ponder " why don't the shuttles have a reactor for power?" Seems odd they would use only battery power? What do you all think?
     
  2. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    Well, if you have a good enough battery, why not? probably simpler than having a reactor on-board.

    --Alex
     
  3. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    For all we know, a battery is used to kick-start a reactor. It's dead without one like a car would be.
     
  4. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    That "battery power" is a mysterious thing and I think we're looking at a colloquialism that doesn't really tell us the whole story.

    In "Mudd's Women" the Enterprise also had to rely on "battery power" after it had used up its dilithium crystals.

    The Making of Star Trek is brutally clear on the issue: You have matter-antimatter energy for the "star-drive", (reactor) fuel for the impulse drive (later established to be nuclear fusion) and - battery power.

    I believe "battery power" here is the equivalent of a nuclear fission reactor. After all, these "atomic matter piles" mentioned in "Court-Martial" have to mean something.
     
  5. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    But the shuttlecraft is very small. And we see almost all of it's insides. Where would such a reactor be? Maybe in the nacelles, but it's gotta be a teeny tiny affair. I suppose we have no specific idea of how big or small such a device would have to be, but, for my money, a really good battery would be fine. Recharge it when it lands. Are we really saying that somewhere on this little box there is a heavily shielded highly radioactive doohicky that keeps it's electricity going? I dunno...

    --Alex

    P.S. Also in ST4 Spock claims that nuclear fission was outmoded by his time, describing 20th Century Earth fission technologies as "dubious flirtation." I don't think that's the answer...
     
  6. MOSUGOJI

    MOSUGOJI Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Actually there is a line of dialogue from Scotty stating something to the effect that he can adjust the reactor to use a substitute fuel supply. And that is why they drained the phasers. So shuttles do have a reactor as a power source. The batteries are probably for a backup source and for ignition as Scotty states.
     
  7. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    That's right about the reactor.

    Scott says that they have a main reactor.
    SCOTT: I can adjust the main reactor to function with a substitute fuel supply.
    SPOCK: That's all very well, but we don't have a substitute supply.
    SCOTT: Aye, we do. Our phasers. I can adapt them and use their energy. It'll take time, but it's possible.
    But I wonder if it was more like the TOS Enterprise's power system where it doesn't generate power but creates fuel for the propulsion pods.

    Notice that they lost all their fuel and resort to draining the phasers...
    SCOTT: One of the lines gave. The strain of coming through the atmosphere and the added load when we tried to bypass. Yes, that's done it. We have no fuel.
    but later on they now have fuel to lift off and the fuel can be ignited so the phaser energy isn't used as simple energy but was converted also into some type of fuel.
    SCOTT: He jettisoned the fuel and ignited it.

    And here are the lines regarding the batteries being necessary for ignition. I'm presuming it's for the engines (not the reactor).
    SPOCK: Mister Scott, how much power do we have left in the ship's batteries?
    ...
    SCOTT: I daren't use any more. Not and be sure of ignition.



     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Add to this that the shuttles of this type are quoted as having "ion engine power", in "The Menagerie".

    (Or perhaps they have "duranium metal shell, ion engine, power-", as the list of qualities given by the computer is cut short by Spock at that point. But let's say there's an exotic power source aboard called an ion engine.)

    We might argue that the shuttle is a miniature starship in every respect but one: it has batteries for general utility needs (perhaps including weapons and shields) plus igniting or otherwise tending for the other power systems; an impulse system providing takeoff thrust and utilizing fluid fuel (probably liquid, but only under pressure, as its leakage did not result in a puddle) as its energy source; and a warp system providing FTL capabilities - but in this case with "ion power" rather than "dilithium-regulated antimatter annihilation"!

    Yes, yes, we know that polaric ion testing is banned, but ion drives still make Scotty's heart beat faster; perhaps ion power is fine for shuttlecraft, and only blows up entire civilizations when scaled up to starship or planetary power grid scale?

    This way, the shuttle could make do without large fuel tanks, as the fluid energy source would only be needed for the rare takeoff and landing. The main drive would be a separate system. And although Spock claims that there's almost nothing they can dump and still retain takeoff ability, he wouldn't be considering dumping the space drive because unbolting it would be beyond their capabilities...

    Now, perhaps they had lost most of their fuel, and had too little to fire up the takeoff engines, but still enough (uselessly sitting in the tanks) to create the flare. But they could use an alternate means of takeoff, sidestepping the takeoff engines altogether: they could feed raw energy into the space drive (let's just call it warp drive even if they never utter the words in TOS) and use its supposed gravity-negating properties to shoot up to the sky.

    So, now Scotty can adjust the "main reactor" to use a substitute source of energy, even though he cannot do that with the takeoff engines. Phasers can provide the same format of power as the ion reactor (whose regular means of providing power may be knocked out because of all the ionic interference around). And thus they fly into space without using any of their regular takeoff fuel, meaning Spock is free to use that for making the flare. (And although he is not planning on using it for that purpose, he can't purge all of it to save weight, either - he can merely equalize pressure with the outside atmosphere, meaning a bit of that fluid is still left in the tanks for later use.)

    It doesn't cover all the bases - but even if the corner of third base is left peeking a bit from under the pile of technobabble, I think it may do.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Well, let's throw another bit into the game. From "Metamorphosis" we also have the entity traveling at warp speed "staying right" with the shuttle.
    SPOCK: Heading directly toward us at warp speed.
    KIRK: Staying right with us. Sensor readings, Mister Spock.
    And later on, they're looking for antimatter trail from the shuttle:
    UHURA: Mister Scott. Computer central reports that we're coming up on the co-ordinates of the last established position of the shuttlecraft.
    SCOTT: Thank you, Lieutenant.
    SULU: Steady. No, Mister Scott, bearing three ten mark thirty five just cleared. No antimatter residue.
    SCOTT: All scanners, spherical sweep. Range, maximum. They'll have to pick it up.
    UHURA: If the shuttlecraft powered away, Mister Scott, but if it were just towed?
    SCOTT: There'd still be traces of residual matter floating around, Lieutenant.
    SULU: Bearing two ten mark forty. Strong particle concentration. We're on it, Mister Scott.
    I'd like to think that the shuttlecraft represents earlier versions of TOS FTL systems before the introduction of Lithium/Dilithium that gave them "regenerative power". But also that in TOS, a variety of engines were FTL capable ranging from the warp engine, hyperdrive and ion engine. It doesn't match with TNG and later productions, but I don't put the two continuities (universes) as one so their technology trees could be fairly different, IMHO.

    Edit: @Timo - the catch with "residual" fuel being used at the end is that Scotty was pretty absolute in saying "We have no fuel". It looked like to me that during that adaptation process, new fuel was generated, IMO.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2012
  10. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    But if the fuel is something that leaks out from the pipes in gaseous form, then it quite plausibly follows that some of it will remain in the tanks in unusable, inaccessible quantities (just like it's impossible to actually empty a bottle of nitrogen through a valve - at best, you can bring it to atmospheric pressure). Until the shuttle reaches vacuum, that is.

    Most of the modern spacecraft have a special system for driving out the last drops or whiffs of fuel/propellant (a separate purging gas, a piston or diaphragm, whatever). Starfleet engineers might not bother with such pennywise things.

    This is intriguing. Why isn't there residual matter floating around?

    I mean, the shuttle was towed away, as far as we can tell. The shuttle also arrived at these coordinates under its own power. If it is natural for a shuttle to create an antimatter residue trail when traveling under power, then there should be residue in evidence right there, and not merely at "bearing 210.40".

    It almost seems we are supposed to think that antimatter residue is only associated with calamities, not with normal operations. That is, there would be residue there if the shuttle met an immediate grisly fate, or fell prey to a conventional attack and either limped away under power or was towed away - but not if it just sailed on. Scotty would still have to do the residue scan under this scenario, because an undamaged shuttle traveling under power but failing to transmit anything would be impossible to locate - Scotty's only "hope" lies in searching for a damaged craft.

    None of the dialogue necessitates these being different things, though. The shuttles just get their FTL engine power from ions ("ion engine power"), while the ships get it from antimatter. It would require pretty explicit dialogue to drive a wedge between "conventional" warp drives and the drive that moves the shuttles at FTL, seeing how both rely on obvious warp nacelles, later in TNG era graphics seen housing obvious warp coils.

    In my personal perverseverse, this "ion engine power" thing ties directly not just to the "ion propulsion" of the Eymorg but also to the "polaric ion" thing from VOY, and to the "cascade ion drive" from Dave Stern's ENT novels. But it also relates to antimatter: it's just that these polaric ion cascades are an alternate means of regulating annihilation, a method (unsuccessfully) competing with dilithium. If the regulation fails (as it often does in large scale applications), it's kaboom time, for obvious reasons.

    A related idea would be that in the conversion of annihilation energies, dilithium is a brute "shortcut" such as those used in getting electricity out of a chemical battery today, but the polaric ion cascade is akin to the electron cascades used by nature in getting electricity out of a chemical battery - more gently and more efficiently. It's just that brute systems can be overengineered to cope with overloads; the gentle cascade is intolerant of excess.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    As to the reason in "Metamorphosis" that there is no trail is that the entity disabled the propulsions systems and that created an overload to the shuttle power systems forcing them to cut all power.

    KIRK: ..Building overload. Cut all power relays.

    I suppose in hindsight, Kirk could of opened up one of the fuel valves and left a trail to follow. Then again, he might have thought that they needed to keep the fuel to escape from wherever they end up.

    As far as differentiation from warp drive goes, I see no reason why the shuttle FTL system needs to be called Warp Drive. We know the nacelle equipped Romulan warbird from "Balance of Terror" has "simple impulse" and it was plenty capable of making that interstellar journey. For all we know, Impulse Engines and Ion Engines have nacelles as features for going FTL... It works just fine for TOS continuity. But for TNG's dilithium-regulated antimatter engines, that's a different continuity and I'd argue that most or all of the events in TOS didn't occur in TNG other than the basic concepts of their being the crew of the Enterprise under Captain Kirk, IMHO.
     
  12. Patrickivan

    Patrickivan Fleet Captain Newbie

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    The warp nacelles or power pods, were the intention for the ship- why wouldn't they also be the a/am reactors for the shuttle?

    So far, having plugged in key word searches going through every script, there's no evidence to suggest that they aren't (the nacelles being the main power source) on the ship- If so, then they can be so on the shuttle as well.
     
  13. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    There is nothing to prevent TOS "ion engine power" shuttles to run on a matter/antimatter reactor. In TOS, they've said "warp engine power" at least once ("The Changeling") and we know it's from the dilithium + matter-antimatter engines/reactor. And since there was some FTL variety in TOS, warp drive isn't the only way to go FTL, IMHO.
     
  14. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    ion engine power

    Though I don't yet know how you guys feel about bringing in an idea from another fictional universe, "ion engine" is an issue for Star Wars fans, too.

    As a form of propulsion it sucks (because of the energy you have to invest to accelerate the exhaust particles), you can only operate it in the vacuum of space and Darth Vader's long-range "Twin Ion Engine" fighter obviously just doesn't have two but four sublight propulsion engines.

    Again, I think we are looking at a colloquialism that refers to a nuclear fusion reactor that foremost produces energy (like a "steam engine" produces the mechanical energy to propel a locomotive) and "ions" is what it's working with.

    In theoretical propulsion considerations the "fusion rocket" would be best as the particle exhaust velocity is superior to all the others "known" to our science. Simply put it's a fusion reactor with an exhaust nozzle.

    If you could put such a fusion reactor into a shuttlecraft you'd always be facing a dilemma: Use the energy for antigrav liftoff and/or FTL drive or use it as a conventional form of propulsion for sublight thrust.

    TOS has a great illustration of that dilemma in "Balance of Terror". The Romulan commander always has to decide whether to use his "fuel" to produce energy for the cloaking device or to use it for propulsion thrust.

    Bob
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    It's a bit dubious whether the standard mode of TOS shuttle sublight propulsion would involve rockets at all. Chiefly, if the standard rocket flame is invisible, it would be quite difficult for Spock to make it visible without special preparations. "Dumping fuel into the flame" is fine and well as such, but as said, there is basically no fuel left for the trick... Will the tiny amount really make a difference?

    Strongly agreed.

    Not quite so strongly agreed. The Commander doesn't really have a choice: the ship grows visible against his will as power wanes. But the two systems competing for the power are not specified to be drive and cloak. Rather, it seems that it's the weapon that eats power and consumes fuel so that any other systems are compromised, both temporarily and in the long term... Use of weapon results in dropping of cloak and cessation of movement, actions that the Commander would not willingly take unless the shortcomings of the technology thus dictated. But combined invisibility and movement are possible throughout the episode.

    Agreed on the general sentiment that technology shortcomings that force the heroes or villains to choose are excellent for drama.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    My mistake, I was using the colloquialism they used back in the 70's where "rocket" stood in general for "propulsion engine" (in contrast to power engine or power generator). Of course a "fusion rocket" has little in common with our fuel burning rockets IRL as the fuel is not burned but rather released through the exhaust nozzle by its own pressure.

    Another misunderstanding? The Romulan Bird of Prey's fuel is
    a) essential to feed the sublight fusion drive to get them home after their raid on the Federation outposts
    b) essential to create the (fusion) plasma torpedo and to draw energy from the fusion reactor to accelerate it to warp speed (in a ideal scenario the Bird of Prey would turn 180° degrees to fire at a pursuing vessel and thus utilize the exhaust momentum of the torpedo to further propel it forward in the direction of its course home. Enterprise's optimal attack strategy would therefore be to approach the Bird of Prey from the side...).
    c) essential to provide the cloaking device with energy the fusion reactor creates.

    Therefore b) and c) consume the fuel calculated necessary for the vessel to make it back to a rendezvous point with another Romulan vessel in Romulan territory.

    I should add, that I'm a strong supporter that the Romulan ship according to Scotty indeed only has sublight impulse drive (before the vessels were retrofitted in "The Deadly Years" with true warp engines). That the vessel is about to pass a sublight speed comet's trail is a hint, IMHO.

    In this particular case the Enterprise's warp speed capability (other than reverse warp to avoid being hit by the plasma torpedo) would serve it as much as the Messerschmitt's 262 jet engines in WW II when attacking enemy fighters. The Russians knew that the Me 262 was too fast to score a hit, so Russian planes simply dispersed into all directions. The allied bombers didn't have that kind of maneuverability as smaller planes so it was easier for the Me 262 to bring them down as the bombers' formations stayed rather rigid.

    Bob

    P.S.
    Sorry, this should be a new thread (Romulan Bird of Prey capabilities)
     
  17. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Well perhaps fusion-powered rockets. "Rockets" were referred to in "The Cage" for "blasting out" of orbit. In "The Naked Time", the impulse engines were called to "blast" them out of orbit.

    Back to the shuttle in "Galileo 7". The phaser energy conversion must have been for creating new "fusion fuel" since at the time of lift off they had more then enough to make orbit by firing their boosters.
    SPOCK: That is a most illogical attitude. Orbit in one minute, Mister Scott. Fuel status?
    SCOTT: Fifteen pounds psi. Approximately enough for one orbit, sir.
    MCCOY: After that?
    SCOTT: Tapping our boosters ended our last chance for a soft landing.
    IMO, it seems that the reactor is part of what feeds the engines with fuel which give the shuttle thrust. That mirrors the starship Enterprise's power setup with the big difference in that lithium/dilithium is not involved which gives them a limited fuel capacity.

    The fuel consumed on the Romulan ship sounds more like it is used for generating power to it's other power consuming systems, such as the plasma weapon, propulsion and cloaking device. Based on the episode, propulsion uses the least amount of energy (aka fuel cost) while the cloak has its own energy / fuel cost and the plasma weapon takes all the energy briefly (and is the biggest fuel cost). Unlike the Enterprise's re-generating power systems, the Romulans have to be mindful of their fuel consumption which is like that of a TOS shuttlecraft operator.

    Passing through a sublight-speed comet's trail doesn't indicate that they were at sublight. Ships at FTL do interact with things in "real space" in TOS - the Enterprise warps through the tail. And given how long it takes to warp through the tail, we can tell that it must be a rather large one with a large cross section.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Or, alternately, that they are deep within one of those fancy star systems where high warp equals low sublight speed, much as in "Paradise Syndrome". Being deep insystem would be a prerequisite anyway, or else the comet wouldn't have a tail...

    Sorry about the diversion. Under what sort of circumstances would you give the "status" of fuel in units of pressure? Or in fact units of weight times (per?) units of pressure, because "pounds pee-ess-eye" is redundant and expands into "pounds pounds per square inch"? Pressure would perhaps be the most appropriate for a fuel that is stored in compressible form, such as gas; there'd be no point in indicating the pressure of incompressible liquids, as it would tell nothing about quantity.

    Or are we in fact hearing of the effects of fuel when we get this status report? Perhaps there's a battery charged with phaser energies that can currently wrangle fifteen psi (or "pounds psi", whatever that is) of pressure out of the fancy pressure-making machine that is used instead of rockets in pushing the shuttle forward?

    15 psi is rather little for propulsion applications, really, unless we're talking about a humungous surface area, much greater than any of the shuttle's cross sections. Surely any given square inch of the shuttle's bottom would have more than fifteen pounds of weight upon it, say?

    ...Except when you are already in freefall; Scotty might maintain an orbit with it (that is, nudge the perigee or peritaurus or whatever a little bit so that it doesn't plunge into the atmosphere that badly), even if takeoff in fact takes fifteen thousand psi.

    ...Or except when you are using the pressure in combination with gravity manipulation of some sort. Some sort of a slow hovering into orbit was apparently being planned anyway, rather than a rocketlike blastoff. Otherwise the precious seconds used hovering, with the cavemen clinging onto the hull, would have consumed a massive share of the total propulsion resources. All that calculating and leaving behind bodies would have been for naught if the launch depended on attaining of escape velocity with a minimum duration blast of thrust, like today's rockets do.

    Oh, well. It all goes to show that in the case of "The Galileo Seven" we should not let writer intent hold us back in any way - because it's so evident there was no real writer intent involved in any of the technical details. Or even in many of the plot twists, alas. I seriously doubt anybody technologically oriented was consulted in any way in the writing or rewriting process.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    I agree that they must have been in a system and warp "effective speed" is in the low single-digit c's instead the 1000's for TOS.

    As to the pressure problem, remember that Spock used up most of the fuel with the boosters during the liftoff. However, it could still be that they use a hybrid antigrav/thruster system so the actual amount of fuel would not need to be huge...