Once more onto the breach, dear friends. For the, like, five of you who may remember me, this is not an early April Fool's joke. I have returned to hopefully finish this once and for all. For those who may not remember, I'm the guy with an unhealthy fixation on the Excelsior who, after creating my own version of a cross section for it ten years ago since all others available seemed wrong to me in some way, decided to begin writing a fully fledged technical manual about it. I'm also the guy who created a cross section of the original Enterprise as a college illustration class project, put up a giant un-watermarked version of it on the internet, and later discovered through the aid of a friend here that it had ended up on the Art Asylum toy box. Highly flattering, if slightly annoying. I would have totally given them a more polished version without the label lines if they'd asked. More on why this is relevant in a bit. Anyhoo, my last effort on the technical manual can be seen here. My influences were primarily Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise, the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, and a naval history book some of you may have heard of called The Essex Aircraft Carriers by Andrew Faltum. I came to believe that Excelsior's virtual omnipresence and apparent longevity provided a unique opportunity to examine various aspects of Treknology that I felt had not been fully explored. I decided to do a book that was half history and half technical manual, the latter written from a 2290s perspective circa Star Trek VI. This eventually diverged into a consideration of the ship's intended scale, which can be seen here. Previously I had become burnt out on the project, partially due to my own feelings of franchise fatigue and partially because I seemed to keep unearthing more questions and uncertainties with the answer to each question. I am resolved to take this at a slow but steady pace, and finally finish this project. To that end, I am going to treat this as a research project in the most formal sense. I have outlined a few ground rules for myself, to try to give this some structure. First, a definition of my concept of canon levels. Canon - all officially produced series and films; I am ignoring the Kelvin films for the most part, simply because they take place in an altered timeline. (I will say that I do believe the Vengeance is the Kelvin timeline equivalent of Excelsior. Explanation of that later.) Semi-canon - books, articles, and illustrations or statements made by production staffers Non-canon - anything else Now some insight into my thought processes. In general, I am attempting to avoid stances on extremely controversial topics that might serve to invalidate my work if one of those topics is later answered in a creative way. It is my intention that what is seen on screen is always automatically canon, unless there is a direct contradiction with other evidence of the same level; in this case, the validity of both must be examined and a compromise made. For example, conventional wisdom holds that the refit Enterprise as seen in Star Trek V does not actually have 78 decks, nor are starship decks generally numbered from the bottom up, and yet we have seen on screen labels indicating that it does. If semi-canon, particularly in the area of creative intent, contradicts canon, validity and compromise must also be considered. I am generally avoiding specifically referencing non-canon sources, although I have and will drop in some vague references to them in an attempt to lampshade certain non-canon topics as I deem necessary. There are a number of key considerations that must be addressed now that I am revisiting this project. Most of these share Treknological concerns with other vessels. Excelsior size and scale in relation to other vessels While there is an official semi-canon size given for the Excelsior, that has largely been adhered to by most productions, there is enough ambiguity regarding the model's scaling and design features to leave the ship's "actual" size ambiguous. For this investigation, I have made several assumptions regarding the size of other starships. I have grouped the "known" sizes of major relevant starships into several categories based on my assessment of the certainty of their size. Certain - the designers and production team were mostly consistent on the intended size, and the portrayal of the vessels' scale on screen is roughly consistent: Enterprise (refit) and Enterprise-A, as well as derivative models (Reliant, Stargazer) Enterprise-D, as well as derivative models (Nebula) Voyager Enterprise-E ("Nemesis" be damned) Ambiguous - the designers and production team were mostly consistent on the intended size, but there are details on the models that may indicate a different size Enterprise (original) Grissom Undetermined - the design and production teams appear to have either been in disagreement, or sizing was changed during the construction or appearance of the ship on screen Excelsior Defiant While I do not propose to solve the question of the size of all these ships definitively (I'm not that masochistic) I do hope that at least examining the possibilities will assist with context for Excelsior. I feel that the previous thread on the topic successfully proved that the model makers' intended size for Excelsior was far larger than the later-established production size. Based partly on comments by Mr. Bill George, I believe the original intention, spurred by an ambiguous directive of "bigger than the Enterprise" was probably in the 2000 ft range, double the stated length of the refit Enterprise. This was reduced to 1500 ft by Mr. Nilo Rodis's production scale chart for Star Trek III, which was in turn later used by Mr. Andrew Probert when developing the Enterprise-D and the ships in between. The real remaining question on this topic really is: which size fits better, and which to I use? Adjusting for model size variance, the larger size works out to around 622 meters. This corresponds fairly well to Mr. Doug Drexler's Enterprise-B cross section (even if there are some other oddities there) and leaves the Excelsior only slightly shorter than the Enterprise-D. However, as I'll explain a bit more later, the secondary hull of Excelsior is likely about 75% hollow, and almost two-thirds of her length is the extremely long warp nacelles, meaning that although she would be almost as long as the Enterprise-D, she is nowhere near as voluminous. I am hoping a re-examination of evidence and other examinations may point me to which "real" size I should use Structural integrity Perhaps surprisingly, for me this one ties directly to size. If the Excelsior is actually the smaller size, it's less of a big deal, but if she's the larger size, why would the next ship of the line (Ambassador class) actually be smaller? As mentioned before, the Excelsior's secondary hull is probably mostly hollow and almost two-thirds of her length are made up of warp nacelles. We know from the semi-canon TNG Technical Manual that Galaxy class ship hulls are "hollow" and "birdlike" in construction, using trusses reinforced with structural integrity field conduits to maintain their shape under extreme conditions such as warp flight. Major systems and habitable areas, including the decks themselves, are essentially hanging inside the hull. It stands to reason that this was not always the way starships were built through Starfleet history. Fellow TrekBBSer Shaw, partially inspired by several diagrams from the TOS bridge set, posited that the original Enterprise was constructed out of many separate hull pressure compartments, that were then assembled into the primary and secondary hull structures we know. I find this idea brilliant, partly because it explains how an older ship could be built more "conventionally" than the TNG TM way, but also because it provides a great explanation for how the TOS ship could be rebuilt into the refit which has somewhat different proportions; simply disassemble the ship into its constituent pressure compartments, rebuild each compartment, and then reassemble into the new overall shape. I believe that the Excelsior may have marked some sort of transition point in the way Starfleet built their ships, owing in part to the unusual secondary hull "chasm" that I will discuss more in a bit, but as I said the decision I make regarding Excelsior's size may sway me one way or another on the decision of how she was actually built. Internal arrangement Convention and various external details allow us to begin to extrapolate the internal arrangement of the Excelsior, but there are still some uncertainties and oddities that cloud matters. For one, again depending on the size selected, the size of the bridge dome(s) seen on the Excelsior may not be large enough to fit the bridge sets inside... and yet convention tells us that the bridge is indeed there. Warp/Transwarp Drive The biggest question, of course, is what the heck was the transwarp drive Excelsior was testing? I believe to answer this question properly, warp drive as a whole and the later depictions of "transwarp" drives must be examined. While the concept of warp drive has been mostly fleshed out, in the early days of TOS there was some uncertainty as to exactly how it worked or was powered. There was an early notion of lithium (later dilithum) circuits and an overall general indicaton of dilithium and antimatter pods being some source of power. With later series, the concept was more fleshed out, and the notion of faster "transwarp," sometimes usig conduits and sometimes not, were bandied about, not to mention "quantum slipstream." With ENT, we saw a largely retro version of the TNG-type tech It is my general conclusion that in the history of Earth and the Federation in the Trekverse, warp power generally followed an evolutionary pattern not unlike our real-world modern combustion engine. Reaction chambers are roughly analagous to cylinders, dilithium "circuits" to spark plugs. Just as in the real world, initially the technology would be crude and limited. As evolution progressed, power would increase by multiplying the number of cylinders (reaction chambers), until the individual reactions became more powerful and efficient and fewer cylinders would again become needed. I believe thie evolutionary undulation can explain the inconsistencies from generation to generation, and how the same basic core design from TMP's Enterprise refit could later power the apparently much faster Voyager. Now how does all this play into transwarp? Well that is the question. Anyway, this is just a kickoff. I'm working on both revised timeline and text, plus some perty pictures to share soon. I hope you'll join me for the ride.