Exelsior's Transwarp drive

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Longinus, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. Longinus

    Longinus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It is popular fanon concept that Exelsior's transwarp drive experiment was a failure. However, is there any actual support for this? From Wikipedia:

    It was also my assumption that this was pretty much the point of the transwarp. All warp factors instantly accessible. I don't recall them ever needing to accelerate to reach specific speeds in TNG, except when those velocities were extremely high, and barely within the capabilities of the ships engine's. Also, this new warp technology would lead to reconfiguration of the warp scale, which, as far as we know, could have taken place in late 23rd century.

    Any huge holes in this train of thought?
     
  2. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think the main basis for this belief is the behind-the-scenes determination at least upon the parts of Rick Sternbach and Mike Okuda (but I could easily see this being directed from higher up too) that it failed, as mentioned in the TNG tech manual.

    I personally believe it failed in the sense that it did not achieve what they were trying to achieve, but was successful in other ways that led to a complete overhaul in the way Starfleet designed their warp drives giving us the TNG-type setup.

    Did it eliminate acceleration? I feel pretty confident that there was some acceleration in 'Where No One Has Gone Before' at the very least, and I doubt overall that they would instantly pop into warp 'x' so until we find more evidence one way or another, I'd be inclined to say that it probably reduced but did not eliminate acceleration between warp factors.
     
  3. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, there is the "pop into warp nine" component of the Picard Maneuver, where the ship apparently goes from zero to nine instantly and then decelerates just as instantly (in order to outrun its own reflection). There's also the Hathaway's "warp jump" trick, which only works if one assumes the ship can accelerate really really fast in a really short amount of time.

    On the other hand, lots of backstage material in TMP and other places indicate that warp factors are units of power output, not VELOCITY measures; there's a reference in one of the TMP blueprints that actual velocity can only be estimated by the intensity of warp field output and varies significantly depending on local space-energy density and gravitating objects nearby.

    At a guess, I'd say conventional warp drive was the space flight equivalent of a propeller-driven aircraft. Transwarp was basically a jet engine in that it allowed for levels of acceleration and maneuvering unheard of for the old style system. It's possible transwarp didn't really work, but something new DID come along--turboprops, maybe?--that had characteristics of both. You still have normal warp factors and all, but those same warp factors can drive you to much higher speeds in a shorter amount of time and under more extreme conditions than usual. The only difference now is that there's a throttle limit: you can't get up to warp 10, because Weird Shit will happen to your engine.
     
  4. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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  5. JNG

    JNG Chief of Staff, Starfleet Command Rear Admiral

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    From TNG: "The Survivors"

    This suggests that at least a big ship like the Enterprise-D has a reasonable acceleration curve through the warp factors (Other ships probably have different performance in this respect). I don't believe the Excelsior experiment was a success, as Scotty was so convinced it would not be and as it was never mentioned again, or that it led to there being no need to accelerate through the factors; however, I do imagine several unspecified improvements in regular warp drive took place as a result of the research, possibly including information toward the recalibration of the warp scale.
     
  6. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    Generally, I don't think there is any onscreen evidence to suggest it failed. One of the better speculations I've seen (Tigger's in his ASDB work) is that the Excelsior's drive did work after the sabotage was repaired, but did not provide the large degree of improvement over traditional warp that it was hoped to. I like to think that Starfleet could have still integrated the successful applications, which is why the warp scale from TNG onward is different from that of TOS.
     
  7. lennier1

    lennier1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Shouldn´t one of these threads be stickied? After all the exact same question seems to pop up every other week.
     
  8. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Pretty much my entire sentiments on the issue.
     
  9. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I started to say that myself. :rommie:
     
  10. Mike Farley

    Mike Farley Commodore Commodore

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    I've seen TSFS many, many times and I'm pretty sure this description is nowhere in the movie.
     
  11. Morwen

    Morwen Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    My assumption has been that the Excelsior experiment turned everyone on the ship into newts, and was abandoned.
     
  12. USS Jack Riley

    USS Jack Riley Captain Captain

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    Another possible "proof" for the failure of transwarp is if we take the assumption that the Ent. A had transwarp (as stated in Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise). At the end of ST IV, she goes off in a blaze of glory. When we return to the ST universe in ST V, Scotty makes a statement to the effect of (and I am paraphrasing here), "Let's see what she's got the Captain says. Well we saw that didn't we." Could be that after she was towed back to Starbase, her transwarp functionality removed and replaced with normal warp engines; hence why the Ent. A, a brand new starship, had to undergo such a significant refurb after Starfleet towed her back to starbase. Of couse, I am of the opinion that ST V was mostly a campfire story told by Kirk and McCoy to Spock as part of the "initiation ritual" of camping out old school (like roastingg "marshmellons"). Nvertheless, it still fits in with this idea, as well.

    Of course, your mileage may vary.
     
  13. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They got better.:shifty:
     
  14. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nope... in Scotty's log entry he specifically says "She's got a fine engine, but half the doors won't open! And guess whose job it is to make it right?" Basically, the engine on the ship was the ONLY thing that worked right; the rest of it was falling apart.
     
  15. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    Styles does say something to the effect that the Enterprise wouldn't (or theoretically, shouldn't) be able to escape using its warp drive, because transwarp was supposedly more advanced if not the next leap up. Unfortunately I can't recall exactly what he says, cause I haven't seen it in a while.
     
  16. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Does anyone think it might have been a little irresponsible of Styles, or his superiors if he was directly ordered to do so, to take out an untried but vital experimental ship into possible combat with the Enterprise, a battle-scarred but powerful vessel? Would the Excelsior necessarily have even been loaded with weapons yet, for a trial run of her engines?

    Granted, the Enterprise was junked, but Styles might have been taken by surprise before the automation burned out, and a "lucky shot" might have ended Ye Olde Transwarpe Experiment for good.

    And here's a notion in regards to the OP:

    Why would Starfleet build an entire new starship, with labs and weapons and a bridge and crew and crew quarters in the hundreds, around an engine that may or may not work? The British didn't launch Dreadnought wondering whether her steam turbine would work.

    Perhaps we may infer that transwarp definitely worked, had been previously been tested on comparatively cheap vessels, and Excelsior was the production version of the future's version of the steam turbine (and for a "failure" they sure built a hell of a lot of her).
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ That was my impression too. The proof of concept for the engine design obviously worked, just like the NX-testbeds for the Enterprise a hundred years earlier. Excelsior gets the NX prefix because the lead ship of the class was ready for trial runs; it's highly unlikely the engine was so theoretical that they didn't even know if it would work.

    I still believe even today that the Excelsior's "transwarp" drive is the same system used on the E-D and other 24th century ships. There's no evidence either way, but there's no definite reason to assume it must have been a failure.
     
  18. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral In Memoriam

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    They knew Kirk wouldn't ever fire on the Excelsior, that hardly seems a risk to me. Styles was just too confident in his ship to actually check it first. If Scotty hadn't pulled the drive computer banks at the last minute, Kirk would have certainly been caught.

    You just don't build a super-cruiser with a new drive system that you haven't tried out on a smaller ship yet. Considering everything else we see in Trek, the only conclusion I can make that the 'Transwarp Failure' Roddenberry mentioned was nothing more than his being petty about the 'old gen' once again, and Okuda's backing him up because Okuda was pretty much just a yes man at that point.

    Simple as that.
     
  19. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    We know Kirk wouldn't do that (in fact, if he would, maybe Spock wouldn't have died in the first place:p). But from Starfleet Command's POV, he's already had his goons assault one poor schmoe and batter another. He's defied a direct order for personal reasons. Destroyed Fed property. Broken into and out of a Fed jail. Lied, cheated, harmed--if the Excelsior fires on him, can they take the risk he won't fire back? He's gone this far already.

    Of course, as for irresponsibility, they should have sent another Connie or a Miranda to deal with Genesis instead of only Estaban and his Barge of the Dead. The cordon around Genesis/Mutara seemed to be publicized and yet it went unenforced.

    We can at least probably presume that a fleet of ships showed up just after Genesis started puking lava into space.
     
  20. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm telling you it still makes the most sense if you accept the Excelsior's transwarp drive as being like the Cochrane's transwarp drive in 'Threshold.' (Heaven forbid.) It wasn't that the engine didn't work, it was that the ship started tearing herself apart and they couldn't get the ship up to maximum (in this case infinite) velocity.

    We know from the 'She'll fly apart' line in 'TUC' that the Excelsior, like the TOS ship, could produce a lot more power than she could actually endure. My thought is that Starfleet got the transwarp engine to reach high warp nine on test models and were optimistic that they could get it higher on the real thing, but that ultimately did not materialize, and so it did end up being a 'failure' in that regard, not reaching the ultimate goal. Nonetheless, it was so successful that it set the format for the much faster TNG-style engine, and the ultimate recalibration of the warp scale.