The Excelsior - uncovering the design

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by yotsuya, Mar 28, 2021.

  1. RichT

    RichT Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    How interesting! I've never seen these labelled on any plans of the Miranda before or discussed in any "designing the Miranda class" articles I've read, and they don't seem to be on the CGI model built Deep Space 9 either. I'm not quite 100% convinced but it certainly gives one pause. Thanks for digging these out.
     
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  2. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Admiral Premium Member

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    Quite welcome! I remember being surprised myself when I first saw them on the amazing photos I saw of the model at the Christie’s Auction (still angry all those photos disappeared). I never knew they were there either until the photos made them super clear. I’ll keep looking but I gave it a pretty good go of it tonight. Still hoping someone out there has some pictures or know where they can be found.
     
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  3. Norsehound

    Norsehound Captain Captain

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    Dukhat I feel like you're putting real-life production reasons in the way of what I thought was an exercise in making all this work within the fiction. Of course the production team is going to use the very versatile models as successive ships. But what are the in-universe fictional ramifications to make this work? I thought that's what we were doing here.

    It's not that Starfleet just keeps passing up new designs to maintain the old craft- they're continually researching and developing new ships, of course. It's just that none of the new designs attained popularity within starfleet to gain large production runs, or became adopted as widely as the 90s fleet. Every time Starfleet offered up a new prototype with the consideration of possibly sidelining the old designs, it was compared to operating the old craft and Starfleet instead decided to operate the old ships in increasingly second-line roles and opting not to ramp up the production of the new ships to significant numbers. As a result, Starfleet has a backbone of old 2290s ships with a handful of newer designs with short production runs that never fully replaced the mainstay.

    I mean, this theory explains why Wolf 359 essentially rendered the 2340s Galaxy generation of lighter ships largely extinct. If not many were made to begin with, it's easier to gut their numbers so badly they're never seen on screen again. It also points to how well these designs must have been liked by starfleet- they too were compared to the old designs, and Starfleet decided it was more cost-effective in the longrun to produce more of a tried design than increase the numbers of the galaxy stablemates. Especially after they were trounced by the Borg. Fortunately, Starfleet managed to rush the First contact fleet into being and- with those designs being much more of an effective baseline over the 2290s relics- Starfleet may be finally in a position to retire the 90s fleet and ramp up production of this new generation.


    ... I want to say though this artifact of a craft outlasting its potential replacements has some real world counterpart. I may be thinking of the 1956 U-2 spy plane, which was supposed to be replaced by the Mach 3 SR-71 but is actually still in service today, even fending off drone replacements. Another example is the A-10 surviving against the F-35 and MQ-9.
     
  4. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    I do have one set of photos from the auction, but I can't find any good photos of the model that show that aft underside in detail. But I did find a good photo of the damaged model in that area. They used the parts from an AMT Enterprise. So they had to made the parts for that are so they should be a good match. I don't see anything that looks like a phaser. The movie color scheme uses the same gold color for both phasers and thrusters. The unique gold rectangles on the Reliant model are all placed in areas where I would assume they are thrusters, not phasers. There are 10 of these rectangles in all. There is a pair on either side of each mega phaser and one pair under the impulse engine.

    That said, on the outside edge of the mega phaser (also called phaser canon on some plans and called both on the Ingram plans) are two bumps that could be a side mounted phaser bank. But it isn't gold, it's the blue/gray color.

    But I think the design goal was to make the Reliant about equal to the Enterprise. So the Reliant shouldn't be bristling with too many weapons. The mega phasers/phaser canons and aft photon torpedoes already make it a formidable ship. And calling it a frigate fits with being equally matched to Enterprise, a larger cruiser.

    When you consider the weapons pod of the Excelsior, the Excelsior is more heavily armed than both. Though the missed a few opportunities to add some phasers to cover the aft area, but that seems to be a common design flaw in Star Trek ships.
     
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  5. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That wasn't my intention. I was just pointing out that the producers didn't initially intend for the Excelsior, Miranda and Oberth classes to have lasted as long as they did. In almost every instance where one of those filming models was used, the original intent was that they were supposed to be different than what the VFX personnel ended up using.

    As for the Excelsior, here's a quote by Andrew Probert:

    But as far as an in-universe reason for these three old ships lasting as long as they did? As far as I'm concerned, they were mostly just decommissioned vessels being reactivated for wartime. The only time we ever saw Excelsiors pre-Dominion War was when they were being used as glorified transport ships to ferry VIPs to the Enterprise-D, and the Miranda class was relegated to cargo and science vessel duty. When the war starts, we see those two old classes lumped together with more contemporary ones such as the Galaxy, Nebula, Akira, Saber, Steamrunner and Defiant (and outnumbering them by a significant amount) for no real reason other than to pad out the fleet. But I think most of those older ships were just mothballed surplus (as was seen in "Unification" where many of the Mirandas and Excelsior prototypes were relegated to.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2021
  6. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    A nice bit of information, but that painting would have stuck out really badly. Good design, bad FX shot.

    See, that doesn't really fit with what we are provided. TNG shows us the following, Galaxy Class, Excelsior Class, Oberth Class, Miranda Class, Constellation Class, and Ambassador Class. Galaxy is the brand new ship, Ambassador is the intermediary that we don't see for a while, but the name is used on screen. The rest are all movie era ships. Pretty much doing what you would expect a ship to do. I don't think it is a case of them being mothballed and on hold. I think it is a case of these ships are active and working and the classes were just that well done. I think when we see them in TNG we are seeing a mix of old and new ships. The registry numbers are the key. The number gives a general idea of how old the ship is. But it is not precise. We are shown 3 new ships in 2 movies and their registries are 1864, 638, and 2000. We had previously had registries going from 500 to 2120. Extending that to what we see in TNG and DS9, registries from 40000 to 70000 can be contemporary. So they must have kept making some of these designs based on the registries. Though it is possible that a decommissioned ship put in mothballs and then pulled out again would get a new registry. Especially if they changed the name. The precedent was set in Star Trek IV with Ent A - name and registry both changed. And the precedent exists in real life as well. Though the registry doesn't often change unless the ship is sold to another country.

    Also, we have seen a huge change in technology in the 20th century. This necessitated retiring older ships because they just became too costly and out dated to run. We got 50 years of service out of quite a few ships. 50 WITH that change in technology isn't bad. What we see in Star Trek is not a huge jump in technology. The TNG ships are not so different from the movie era ships. As the two continued, the movies got closer to the TNG level. So we are dealing with a time frame when there has not been a lot of change. War with the Klingons was avoided. And that almost war I believe is the key to what we see. At least a good in universe explanation. The Federation did not trust the Organians to keep the peace and they were ready for war. Remember, it is based on the USA/USSR cold war. Look at the military spending that went on and the advances in technology. We had to stay ahead. I think the Federation was thinking that way. Heck, I think a lot of fans were thinking that way. It explains the direction FASA was headed. So we have a reason for building a lot of ships in the movie era. Then we have peace with the Klingons and silence from the Romulans. That is the exact opposite. They get to concentrate on exploration. They have all these ships and designs.

    We discount the Franz Joseph because we didn't see models of them on screen, but due to his work, we saw plenty of on screen references to all of his classes. He fortunately worded the the lists of ships as authorized. If you look at how that works for the US navy, not every ship that gets authorized gets built. So I think a fraction of them were built (all the first group and as needed of following groups with names changed as needed). A name is an ephemeral thing until a ship is launched. The name and the design can change. Though the US Navy has a different registry based on the type and Starfleet has a unified registry system that ignores ship type. In TOS we had Constellation with the registry 1017. Obviously supposed to be a Constitution Class ship. So why the weird registry? Well, if they needed another ship and they had an authorization and NCC registry available, they could build another ship. The US Navy pulled that trick a few times. That is how we have the USS Constellation, an 1854 corvette (built new from the keel up but it was supposed to be a refit of the 1797 Frigate). And as far as names go, the original authorization of the carriers Lexington and Saratoga was for a new Constitution Class cruiser. The name Constitution kept getting pushed down the list and the design was changed to an aircraft carrier after construction had begun and by the time the two ships were built, Constitution and Constellation were not used. So there is plenty of real life reference material for some of these theories.

    And what is funny is that the original Excelsior model was not used that often. It was filmed in 4 movies (a bit part in TVH, but apparently new shots) and 4 times for TNG and DS9, the last being as the Lakota. I think it was Jein's model that became the reason it was so prolific. A small, easy to film model and access to it to build a CG model made it perfect for the series to use, while the larger model was unavailable and little used.
     
  7. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Admiral Premium Member

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    What always mystified me was that Greg Jein, as I recall, was required to build the new half-scale Excelsior for Voyager's "Flashback" episode without being given access to the original to get accurate measurements! He built the thing off of photos of the original, which is why it had so many odd errors, not the least of which were the glowing warp nacelles and stupid-thin secondary hull. Still, it was a valiant effort to complete in spite of lack of source material. According to Jein's MA page, apparently 12 copies of his Excelsior model (without internal lighting) were made for sale at the Viacom store for $7,500. Had no idea.
     
  8. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It was those late 80's/early 90's unlisenced blueprint packs and manuals. Where it was the Avenger-class Heavy Frigate, in it's own set of blueprints and also Ships of the Starfleet etc.
     
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  9. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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  10. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I stand corrected.
     
  11. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    I was just reading the notes on the Ingram plans.

    These are a riot. So full of inaccuracies and mis informaiton. We know now that the Excelsior was put in full service as is by 2290. Only a minor refit to the bridge, impulse deck, and hanger. And that the class, as built, was in service for the next century. I think this is the source of transwarp being a failure and there is no evidence of that. We don't know what speeds the ship could achieve, but it is fast. We see it is fast in TUC, though they don't comment on what speed. And even before Ent A had a second outing, TNG put an Excelsior Class on the sculpture wall as Enterprise B, cementing the Excelsior Class as a success. Whether or not they attained the speeds they hoped it is really a minor point. The class was a success and went into service with few if any modifications.

    I see the Excelsior as the successor to the Constitution Class and the Ingram as the successor to the Federation Class. Excelsior under Sulu is performing the same type of missions as a Constitution Class. And we never see the Federation class or Ingram because they are off performing their roles. Roles I think the Contellation Class ends up being a better fit for.

    I personally like to include Ingram because it is a cool design. I see Ingram and Excelsior being like the F-22 and F-23 - competing for the contract. I see Excelsior as winning and Ingram being a one off. I think Excelsior, Ingram, and Constellation were all projects to try and achieve in a new design some of the speed records of the Enterprise from the various alien modifications. I think that somewhere between TUC and Encounter at Farpoint, one of the projects succeeded and led to the new warp factors and modifications of older ships. But I also feel both warp factor charts, TOS And TNG are wrong and the real space speeds for both are much higher than the listed speeds. The distances traveled are too great for the quoted warp factor supposed speeds. And transwarp for the movie era are just faster speeds whereas transwarp in the TNG/DS9/Voy era is something completely different.
     
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  12. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    I've often thought that one advantage to having dreadnoughts and strike cruisers, in small numbers, would be to provide the "space control" element. A more powerful vessel like a dreadnought could conceivably help defend a sector better than, say, a larger group of destroyers or support ships to handle the same mission profile.

    The megaphasers have likewise been suggested in some sources (Jackill's is the main one that springs to mind) as offering smaller vessels like destroyers a stronger punch without necessarily needing to mount torpedo systems, at the cost of needing more power from the warp core and thus that being a factor in what model of core is mounted. So the vessel would have a higher power curve but wouldn't need ammunition.
     
  13. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not convinced. This was 1988, remember. Most people had small 13-inch standard-def TVs. Probably the vast majority of them were even BW. I'm sure that shot would have worked fine. It's not like they had an issue with matte paintings, the way they constantly reused that Angel One city.

    Here's the thing: Between the TMP era and the TNG era, Starfleet had at least 60 different starship classes, and of those, only a small handful of those classes were definitively from the movie era. And the only time we've ever seen a huge grouping of random Starfleet vessels in one place were the DS9 fleet shots, and we only saw eight classes out of those 60+. So that presumably means one of two possibilities:

    1. Those eight classes definitively represented the most mass-produced ship classes for the last 70+ years and the other 52+ classes faded into obscurity, or

    2. Those fleet scenes represented only 1/8 of Starfleet's total forces and just happened to contain those eight classes, and other fleets off-camera contained the other 7/8 of the classes.

    So for all we know, the other fleets contained hundreds of Renaissance or Zodiac or Ambassador class ships that were newer and far outnumbered the Excelsiors and Mirandas we actually saw. I find it hard to believe that of 60+ classes, those two TMP-era designs just happened to outlive all the rest.
     
  14. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Even I was not that primitive in 1988, maybe 1978, but not 1988. In 1988, I think I had a 27 inch Hitachi Color TV. :techman:
     
  15. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The large color TV we had had a worse picture than our 13 inch BW TV. :confused:
     
  16. 137th Gebirg

    137th Gebirg Admiral Premium Member

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    Yeah, back then, larger TV's ≠ more scan lines/pixels. They just upscaled the same interlaced 400-some-line NTSC standard screens to fit the bigger TV housings. It didn't really make things easier to see, it just made the small amorphous blobs look like bigger amorphous blobs. :D
     
  17. Mres_was_framed!

    Mres_was_framed! Commander Red Shirt

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    On a fan project I was doing, realized something that expands on this.

    Suppose that lots of Mirandas get built, and the Centaur-class get designed, but only built to replace a lost Miranda, or the occasional fleet expansion, but Mirandas are not retired to make room for Centaurs. Maybe not many Centaurs would ever get built before the Excelsior architecture gets replaced, and the Centaur is now outdated. Yet many Mirandas are still in service and there just never were many Centaurs.

    This could apply to many classes were don't see often. The Springfield class looks like an Oberth, but built from Galaxy-style components. Given how many Oberths we see, maybe there was never much demand for Springfields in the first place. And it seems the Steamrunner is the same basic layout, now built from even newer components, while some Oberths are still around.

    I agree with that statement. The issue then is, why have two ships of a very different layout but equal capabilities? It works well for the plot, since we know which ship is which and yet the two main characters are equally matched. The best I can come up with is that the non-combat role of the ship results in the different layouts.

    The given power, speed etc., of one era's cruiser might be passable to for the next era's scout, or whatever. I watched a Trekyards episode where they compared the New Orleans to the Intrepid, and found a lot of similarities, and the similar size of the Intrepid to the Constitution is well-documented and intentional.

    Sternbach wrote an interesting article in Star Trek The Magazine where he explains, from an in-universe perspective, how and what ways the Constellation did/did not meet its goals. Relevant to your current work is the fact that Constellation had four warp nacelles but ended not not getting much speed boost (compared with the Constitution-refit, aka Enterprise-class) because the warp core was smaller. A compromise, of a larger diameter, shot length, transverse-mounted warp core gave the ship a cruising speed of warp 7, but no real increase in emergency speed. (The warp core runs sideways between the two impulse deflection crystals just behind the saucer). The crew is larger, at 500 to 550, I think, but overall adding nacelles did not make the ship significantly faster. I write the paragraph because, as you create deck plans for the Excelsior, you can figure out what limitations of the Constellation given here apply to the Excelsior (probably not many since Excelsior is a new platform, but that's kind of the point).
     
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  18. RichT

    RichT Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    My headcanon on the extra nacelles is that rather than give a higher top speed it gives more endurance at the same top speed. Assuming the Constitution generation typically maxes out at warp 8, certainly in the TMP-TUC era, we might assume that the Miranda can sustain warp 8 for 12 hours before sustaining serious engine damage and therefore can only cruise indefinitely at warp 6; whereas the Constellation can run indefinitely at warp 8, because each nacelle pair is doing half the work a single injector cycle out of sync. The reason four nacelles don't feature on all ships is because they have tradeoffs, like decreased fuel efficiency, decreased sublight manoeuvrability due to the extra weight, and higher maintenance requirements. It's a way of maximising last-generation tech.
     
  19. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    A matte painting of a static city is one thing. A matte painting of a starship in orbit is another. I could tell when I watched 2001 on DVD that the ships when we take that first time jump from the apes were not shot as models. They were models, but they were static images, not filmed FX shots. You can tell. And that is widescreen DVD of a 70 mm film. We would have noticed a static ship when all the other ships move in orbit. It would not have worked. Nice idea, but it wouldn't work for that shot. A painting in deep space would have, with a small FX addition of running lights. But the goal was a shot in orbit and all Trek ships in orbit, even back to TOS, were active FX shots and it would have stood out, even in NTSC broadcast in 1987.

    Well, I'm not sure where you got 60 starship classes and how you identified when each class was from. I don't take any non-series source as canon (there are plenty of series references to starship classes, but most don't reference what era they are from), so other than the kitbash ships that appeared after 2364, I can't think of that many classes that we are experienced. We have Constitution, Saladin, Hermes, Ptolemy, Federation (those 4 from FJ and pieces seen and heard in the first 3 movies), Miranda, Oberth, Excelsior, Constellation, Centaur (an Excelsior based ship similar to the Walker class from Discovery that I am rather fond of), Amabassador, Galaxy, and Nebula (an update of the Miranda using Galaxy parts).

    According to the official timeline, Constitution class was in service from 2245 to 2293 (and probably several years to either side). Miranda was 2286 to 2388, same for Excelsior Class. Constellation was 2293 to 2388. We don't know when the Ambassador class started, but it was at least by 2344 and still in use through 2388. Enterprise D had just entered service in 2364 and served for 8 years before its destruction. The Constitution Class never was around in great numbers. I think the best in universe explanation is that they corrected that with Excelsior and Miranda and made a lot of them. And they evidently were made well. So a century later there are still a lot of them around. But they have been pushed out of the starring roles they held when new and into service roles. While the timeframe does not match much of what we seen in sea navies, we are dealing with starships that don't just rot or rust away in the water like sea vessels do. And the sea navies used to keep good ships around for a long time. The Constitution's class was know for long lasting ships. USS Constitution and USS United States both served to see the Civil War. United States was captured and destroyed. Constitution set a personal speed record and continues serving as an active Navy ship to this day. And a third, and little known ship made it to the 20th Century. HMS President, a copy made by the British after capturing and dismantling the USS President in 1815. Built shortly after, it was in service in a minor role into the 20th century. The navies used older ships, not longer fit for active duty, as floating barracks, called receiving ships. So I see it as totally reasonable that Starfleet would have ships in excess of 100 years old, that would still be in service.

    And there are several avenues of how this happened. Some are mothballed (shutdown, sealed, and parked), some are built new (we see a lot of higher registry numbers), some have been in service the whole time. All are possible and there could be a combination of things. All are things that we find in history. Though building more of an older design is a rare thing, but not totally unheard of. They built the Nimitz class over 34 years. They built the Constitution class over at least 41 years in Star Trek. And given how successful the Constitution class was up until the end, You can imagine that the Starfleet designers would want to push that envelope. And given the rather static level of technology we see, unlike the real world over the past centuries, a well designed ship could have a century life expectancy and some ships could last a lot longer.

    I think the most likely explanation is that Starfleet built these classes in very large numbers. As newer ships designs come on, some of the ships get mothballed. The name might have gotten reused. But the newer ships maybe don't last. The design isn't as good. So rather than build a new ship, and old one is pulled out of mothballs, refit and updated with the latest technology on the old frame, issue a new name and new registry number, and put the ship in service. The rise of issues in TNG and DS9 provide plenty of reason to reactivate a lot of old ships. The Romulans are back, the Borg, the Cardassians, the Dominion, etc. The odd design of the Enterprise B during an era when we see a lot of new designs indicates that it was somewhat of an experiment. One I don't see as being very successful. We only ever see 2 of them. So it definitely wasn't as successful as the primary Excelsior class. So it would make sense as the ship where Kirk died that it would have an average career and when they designed the Amassador Class, it was an opportunity to regain the glory of the name Enterprise and the mothballed B. Then things get heated and they need ships so they pull it out, refit it (Enterprise total refit took 18 months, so a lesser refit wouldn't take as long), rename it and put it back in service.

    Basically to explain what they did with the models, you have to find something that accounts for the number of ships and the registry numbers. I think a combination of a long production run, non-sequential registries, mothballing, and reactivating and renaming answers these. We have a case of the Hood and Repulse having low registry numbers. But the next time we encounter the Hood, it has a different registry. Maybe the ship was retired and reactivated with a new number. Maybe the first one was destroyed and the second one is a replacement. We did see in TNG that it was getting some upgrades.

    I see the TOS and movie era as a cold war time with the Klingons leading to lots of ship building. We don't see much of that on screen because it doesn't fit with the stories and they didn't have the models. But they end up with a huge number of ships. More than what they need. This slows down development and construction. So between Enterprises B and D the only major ship project is the Ambassador. We don't see a lot of design changes or technology upgrades. Most of what we see in TNG is carried over to Enterprise A and B. So the touch screen LCARS displays, the updated corridors and other interiors, the warp core. So because of what they did in the production, it is 80 years of relative static. So a ship that was top of the line in 2293 isn't going to be that out of date in 2364. But war comes to the Federation and we get the Sovereign Class, Intrepid Class, Defiant class, and more. We get a lot of new innovation that leads to what we see in Picard. So what we see on screen ends up falling in place but with lot of years in between. But what we are given to work with doesn't have much that breaks it, other than the number of years that pass.
     
  20. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    I agree. The extra nacelles, be it the Federation, Constellation, or the false future Galaxy, are for extra power, not extra speed. It takes less power to make a warp field of the same size given more nacelles so that leaves more power for other ship systems. So the 4 nacelles in the Constellation Class (remember, one of the Excelsior study models, which we have seen used on screen, had 4 nacelles) is to serve the larger mass of the ship to provide sufficient power and a large enough warp bubble to make the design functional.