Why the Enterprise shape?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by King Daniel Beyond, Jun 20, 2014.

  1. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Has anyone ever explained why Starfleet ships tend to follow the saucer/engineering hull/nacelles configuration? I remember reading somewhere that the shape was meant to be "warp dynamic" (i.e. moves well through subspace), but if that was the case, why don't any other species follow the same design pattern, and why does Starfleet constantly re-arrange those same parts in other ship designs?

    Also, why would the ships be getting more and more streamlined, to the point where Voyager, the Enterprise-E, the Prometheus and others are halfway between the old Enterprise shape and a missile? It doesn't make sense.

    (Yes, I know the real answer to all the above is that they look cool, and TPTB don't want to "confuse" viewers with similar designs on non-Federation ships)
     
  2. SPCTRE

    SPCTRE Badass Admiral

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    Heretic! Heretic!
     
  3. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Premium Member

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    For God's sake...will SOMEone get the Design Mod!!!...hide the children!!!...
     
  4. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    There was an idea, either proposed by Roddenberry or Jefferies (I think), that the nacelles needed to be a certain distance from the habitable areas of the ship due to "radiation" or whatever. As far as why a saucer, another idea proposed here and there was that in the event the secondary hull had to be jettisoned, it could enter a planetary atmosphere and make a safe landing like a flying saucer.
    Others like the Klingons, TNG-era Romulans, and the Andorians also utilize a similar (albeit not identical) dual hull configuration for their ships. Rather than use a saucer, they have different shapes for their primary hulls. But I think the general shape of any starship is dependent on a number of factors, including its purpose and how many people it's supposed to carry.
    It could be chalked up to just progress as well as a change in shipbuilding policies over time. I think more and more future starship designs will move away from the dual-hull configurations and more towards single-hulls. They may also get smaller rather than larger as faster engines (like slipstream drive) could lead to more efficient specialized starships rather than larger multipurpose ones, IMO.
     
  5. bbjeg

    bbjeg Admiral Admiral

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    I've read, somewhere, that they were supposed to be 'futuristic space satellites' or something along those lines.
     
  6. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    We all know that Starfleet hired the descendent of an artist who came to some attention in the latter 20th-early 21st century. This descendent's engineering concepts helped maintain a uniform look to ship design.
     
  7. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, Matt Jefferies felt that the nacelles were "hazardous" and needed to be designed "away from the ship". He also considered these a component with a lot of wear and tear so that these occasionally would have to be replaced (which is what he did on planes during WW II).

    It also depends how you power the warp drive. The Klingon Battlecruiser always looked to me that it needed more mechanical components and only could feature a small primary hull (= payload). The Official TMP Blueprints almost make it look as if the Klingons only had nuclear fusion energy they converted into warp energy by means of dilithium crystals.

    Bob
     
  8. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't know about in-universe, but in reality I think the explanation is pretty simple. My personal opinion here is that when Jeffries and Roddenberry designed the original Enterprise, if you look at it in the context of the 1960s, they basically combined several familiar features and made it one. When later incarnations appeared, they were basically just riffing off the original design.

    here's how I think the saucer/nacelle combo came to be:

    In most sci-fi movies and series prior to and of the time, space ships were often depicted as saucers.
    [​IMG]

    Also, with the space race in full swing, you had rockets being seen frequently, which is exactly what the nacelles resemble:

    [​IMG]

    ...as for the secondary hull, I believe it resembles an old galleon, in shape.
    [​IMG]

    So, when you combine all of these elements, what do you get?

    IMHO, the Enterprise.
     
  9. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    ^^ Interesting thoughts. Yet, Jefferies' various pre-production sketches for the TOS Enterprise suggest he was considering a sphere for the main hull and rings instead of warp nacelles.

    I won't exclude, however, that in the final process the allusions to a flying saucer, rocket engines and a sailing ship's hull helped to settle the final design.

    Bob
     
  10. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And that might actually be what works. The ship has to be a self-contained nacelle.

    But in terms of looks--the Enterprise is a smiling swan...and what is more beautiful than that?

    As for me--I hate the arrowhead designs...keep the saucer round, and the nacelles high.
     
  11. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    The neck separating the saucer and secondary hull in many Starfleet designs would be to allow clearance for any cone-shaped emissions from the deflector/sensor dish. Voyager's secondary deflector on top of the primary hull apparently compensates for the lack of clearance above the dish.
     
  12. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Ha, take my theory FWIW. :)

    I'm just saying when I look at the original Enterprise, that's what I see, and what I think may have influenced them. But that's in all honesty a guess on my part.

    But those sketches you posted are very interesting. Some look like they were reused later on. I see ships resembling the Pasteur, Kelvin, reliant, and even some having nacelles resembling the TMP refit!
     
  13. Push The Button

    Push The Button Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Those Jefferies sketches are awesome.

    So it was originally named "Engineering - Power Shaft", but later renamed in honor of Jefferies.
     
  14. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  15. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    "Jefferies Tube" was a name used by the production staff that eventually became in-universe canon -- like the X-Wing and Y-Wing designations for Rebel spacecraft in Star Wars.

    As you may know, one of Jefferies' concept sketches with a spherical main hull was fan-retconned into the Daedalus-class starship.
     
  16. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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  17. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    @ TheSubCommander

    We should have expected to see Jefferies sketches featuring the TMP nacelle design because he laid down the basic design for the refit Enterprise.

    @ scotpens

    The Daedalus Class wasn't "fan-retconned", Sisko had a model of it in his DS9 office (oops...I forgot that models and wall sculptures supposedly don't count as canon even though we know what they were meant to represent. ;))

    @ C.E. Evans

    I find Jefferies A-appendix rather interesting because some fans felt that if the Constellation (NCC-1017) had been named to honor a previous ship it must have had such an appendix.

    Jefferies note merely illustrates that a modernized and modified starship in those early TOS days would have received such an appendix, but by the time of the movies it's clear that the reasons have changed.

    Interestingly, Richard Arnold felt that he had to defend the idea that the Enterprise got that appendix in ST IV-TVH, but the basic idea had already been written down by Matt Jefferies back in the 1960's. :)

    Bob
     
  18. Richard Baker

    Richard Baker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Looking through Matt Jefferies drawings it is interesting to see the Refit's nacelle pylons and the dorsal connecting pylon with the photorp launchers being designed so long ago...

    IIRC the Saucer's shape was supposed to act as a aerodynamic flying 'wing' in case of emergency landing after separation.

    I do not care for a lot of the later Starfleet hull designs- especially the Galaxy Class oval saucer. I suppose it was intended to look larger from the front view since the eye would try to resolve it into a circle. The arrow-head primary hulls do not appeal much to me either.
     
  19. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    If it's the sketch with the umbilical cord astronaut, you are referring to, we have to wonder whether these were really photorp launchers Jefferies envisioned or just a pair of large phaser emitters. ;)

    Bob
     
  20. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    That seems like a pretty definitive RL explanation. Very nice!