Apple Question

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Poltargyst, May 17, 2015.

  1. Poltargyst

    Poltargyst Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I just watched The Apple. The ship is being pulled into the atmophere by Vaal, and Scotty and Kirk are trying to figure out how to get the ship away. At one point Kirk tells Scotty something about jettisoning the nacelles and jumping out of orbit in the main section. Is this a reference to separating the saucer section? Could Kirk's ship do that?
     
  2. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral In Memoriam

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    In the book The Making of Star Trek, published when the show was still on the air, I think there's mention of some kind of separation possible, but I don't remember specifics. It's never shown happening on screen though.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, it's always been part of the Enterprise design that the saucer could be separated as an emergency lifeboat. There was a saucer-separation sequence proposed for the climax of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and a separation line was actually included on the refit model, but the sequence wasn't used. The Galaxy class in TNG just took that last-ditch emergency feature of the design and made it a (theoretically) routine feature.

    The 1983 ST novel Black Fire features a saucer separation, but it does it the other way around -- the bridge is bombed, and the explosion damages the structural integrity of the saucer, so the crew abandons it for the engineering section.
     
  4. plynch

    plynch Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    When I saw "Apple Question" I thought a question would be, "Why did they have to make that turkey?"

    And yet, is it maybe the quintessential TOS episode?

    I mean . . . the vibrant colors, and goofy looking aliens, with red shirt deaths, the ship in danger from an omnipotent planet-ruling being who has a culture stuck in happiness, raising a moral dilemma (except the ship's in danger so it's moot unfortunately), the dippy music, the whole chuckling and, "Oh, yeah, they'll be fine" ending . . .

    This might have as much as one episode could have. Hmm. I hate rethinking my positions.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Kirk's definition of "main section" in the episode is left vague. All we know is that it doesn't include the nacelles, apparently; apart from that, it might be the saucer, it might be the engineering part, it might be both together. It's just that having "main section" be the saucer would make the terminology consistent across centuries, which is a worthwhile pursuit now that we know that Archer and Picard spoke essentially the same technobabble.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
  7. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    In Star Fleet Battles lore the U.S.S. Hood, in a battle with Klingons was nearly destroyed, but managed to separate the saucer and land it under the ocean of a nearby planet. The Klingons couldn't find it, and after they left the area, the Hood Saucer rose up from the water and managed to return to Federation space on impulse power, taking three years to do so. (I suppose their radio was busted too.)

    So, yeah, the saucer was always assumed to be able to detach. In fact, I think in an early "not-quite-there" idea during the show's pre-production, the idea was that the saucer would be routinely detachable and would land on planets every week Forbidden Planet style, leaving the stardrive section in orbit. But that turned out to be really expensive and Roddenberry dreamed up the transporter instead. So, the detachable saucer idea stuck around, but just as a last ditch effort and you only do it if the other section is hopelessly lost.

    So, it was resurrecting an old idea to have the E-D be routinely separable. Although, we know that in-universe, the Galaxy-class ships were not the first to have this feature as in "Encounter at Farpoint," Riker claims that he had preformed the saucer docking maneuver before on an earlier ship which was not a Galaxy.

    --Alex
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think you're conflating two separate things. The original March '64 pitch document says, "The Cruiser will stay in space orbit, will rarely land on a planet. Landings are made via a small (and transportable) recon rocket vehicle." By the time the outline to "The Cage" was written in June '64, the idea of the transporter had been conceived as a replacement for the "recon rocket" -- and the ship hadn't even been designed yet at that point. According to The Making of Star Trek, the design process happened in the summer and fall of '64. An August 25 memo from Roddenberry to Kellam De Forest Research says "we are dangerously near the time we must settle on a shape and configuration for our spaceship" and that they were having a hard time deciding. I can't seem to find when the saucer idea was first proposed, though, since none of the Jefferies design sketches I can find appear to be dated. But the saucer design definitely came along after they'd already abandoned the landing idea and created the transporter.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, Riker only says he's "qualified". Could be because he's done this in simulations. Could be because he's read the manual. Could be he's lying to Picard just to make himself look better.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    Interesting. That makes sense. Now that I think on it, I'm not sure where I got that idea. But I'm pretty sure I didn't just make it up...

    --Alex
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^It sounds like the sort of misunderstanding that would've evolved through the ongoing game of telephone that is the Internet. People hearing fragments of different things and putting them together in their minds. I have a pretty bad memory for specifics myself, which is why I rely so much on checking sources.
     
  12. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    They must have been awfully close to Federation space to be able to get back in only three years without FTL travel.

    Assuming that full impulse is 1/4 the speed of light as has been proposed elsewhere, if they maintained that speed the whole time, then they travelled 3/4 of a light year at most. And I think at that speed there would be issues with time dilation.

    As to the topic of saucer separation... yes, I have also read that it would be possible in an emergency situation.

    Kor
     
  13. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral In Memoriam

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    Well, there's only one answer to that. The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth! Whether it's scientific truth, or historical truth, or personal truth! It is the guiding principle upon which Starfleet is based!
     
  14. Kilana2

    Kilana2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I have the impression that you are a walking encyclopedia. Appearances are deceptive.
    I feel "naked" without the internet. ;)
     
  15. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    Yes. In the immortal words of a certain character who shall remain unnamed, "I'm with Starfleet. We don't lie."

    :rofl:

    Kor
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    First off, "full impulse" (as it's called in the ST Encyclopedia) doesn't mean the maximum possible impulse speed. That's a common misapprehension. "Full speed" is naval parlance for the maximum standard speed used in routine situations, which is less than "flank speed," the maximum possible velocity for emergencies. The TNG Tech Manual explains in more detail that it's preferred to limit impulse operations to 1/4 lightspeed to avoid time dilation effects, but makes it clear that speeds far closer to the speed of light are well within the realm of possibility for impulse engines.

    After all, movement in the vacuum of space isn't like moving over ground or water. There's no friction to cancel thrust (well, hardly any), so it's contradictory to equate a level of engine power with a constant speed as we do on Earth. In space, you maintain a constant speed by coasting; if you apply forward thrust, you go faster, period. Even if your thrust is tiny, you can accelerate arbitrarily close to the speed of light if you just keep it up long enough. So there are no "speed limits" in space short of the speed of light itself (or the point very close to it where drag from the interstellar medium or from the intense bombardment of blueshifted cosmic background radiation would be sufficient to cancel further acceleration, but that's too small a difference to matter).

    Therefore, there's no reason why a ship at impulse couldn't accelerate arbitrarily close to the speed of light, as long as the engines held out and the fuel didn't run dry. If it could accelerate at, say, a steady 100g, it would take only three and a half days to get to 99% of lightspeed. At 10g, it'd take 35 days, and so on -- it's pretty linear. (Acceleration equals velocity over time, so time equals velocity over acceleration.) Any level of impulse power, applied long enough, can take a ship well beyond 1/4 lightspeed. It's just preferred not to do so unless there's a need for it.

    Second, as the above discussion implies, the time dilation at 1/4 lightspeed is minimal, only about 3 percent. A shipboard clock would lose about 46 minutes a day compared to a "stationary" clock. You have to go much closer to lightspeed before time dilation really begins kicking in.


    Well, maybe it's more accurate to say that I don't trust my memory to be reliable. I do know a lot of facts and ideas and stuff, but it's so cluttered that I get details confused sometimes. So I try to be careful about double-checking things rather than just going from memory. (For instance, I have a spreadsheet file that I used for calculating the time dilation and accelerations discussed above.)
     
  17. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    ^^^
    All good points. I would also reference back to "Where No Man Has Gone Before" where the ship on impulse alone travels quite some distance. They made it to Delta Vega, "a planet a few light-days away." Now, it seems as though we don't have the actual travel time stated on-screen, but given the mathematical progression of Mitchell's powers, as described by Sulu, it seems like the certainly didn't spend more than a few days in transit, possibly much less, suggesting that impulse power alone can at least meet or possibly even slightly exceed light speed.

    --Alex
     
  18. GNDN18

    GNDN18 270 Commodore

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    Bob?
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...And then there is James T. Kirk.

    There's also the problem of decelerating at the destination. There is no known mechanism for applying "brakes" in space in the real world, not at high relativistic speeds, short of having invulnerable shields and slamming smack on into a star (or preferably several) to bleed off speed. You have to apply reverse thrust - and it doesn't come any easier or cheaper than forward thrust. If you don't start braking at the halfway point already, you will miss the target.

    However, Trek starships very seldom seem to need to apply reverse thrust: usually, killing the engines will suffice for bringing a ship to a (relative) halt, in a matter of seconds rather than in symmetric response to days of acceleration. Certainly the ships don't need to turn around and point their "rocket nozzles" forward in order to brake (and one indeed very much doubts whether those glowing bits in the impulse engines have anyhting to do with rocket nozzles at all).

    Perhaps there exists some sort of a "subspace drag anchor" that a starship can drop in order to come to an immediate halt, a mechanism that grips the underlying structure of subspace and is very good for braking purposes but cannot be symmetrically used for acceleration? Or perhaps impulse engines "cheat" when creating acceleration and velocity, and when they are turned off, nature takes revenge and deprives the ship of all the "cheated" motion?

    In any case, doing a couple of lightdays in a day or less should be trivially easy for a starship capable of the usual impulse. It need not be faster than light at all: accelerations in the ballpark of a thousand gees should be possible for impulse (see ST:TMP for visual and dialog support), and you get to near-lightspeed in a jiffy and can compress several lightdays into one easily enough. Especially if you don't need to sweat braking when you reach Delta Vega.

    Is a separated saucer limited to impulse speeds? Nobody explicitly says so. Trek establishes solidly enough that warp engines don't have to look like anything specifically, and Kirk could well have had some aboard his saucer. Picard clearly did, as his saucer flies at high FTL in the pilot episode.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    I don't think there is any need for a "drag anchor" at all. As I understand it, the warp engine (and I assume also impulse engines just on a smaller scale) generate movement by means of sub-space bubbles nested within each other, which press together and create some sort of rebound that moves the ship. By shutting that system off and collapsing those bubbles, the ship naturally comes to a halt as there are no longer any subspace fields to keep it isolated from inertia and (evidently) relativity. Note that we ships lose power and stop. In a "drag anchor" scenario, losing power would mean they would coast on at the high speed, without being able to generate the powered anchor effect. But, again, what we actually see is ships lose power and then, due to their very lack of power, coast to a stop.

    I agree with everything else you posted.

    --Alex