TOS(and movies) Warp engine rating

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Ronald Held, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Do we know how long you can run the engine at Warp 10(or 9 or 8) before having to reduce the speed? I thought Warp 6 and Warp 7 could be run for long periods of time?
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In TOS, warp eight was indeed supposed to be a major problem if sustained for hours at an end, from "Arena" onwards at least. And Scotty said that even "sustained warp seven" would be "dangerous". But he was probably being a bit conservative there, as warp nine could be sustained for two-three hours in "Paradise Syndrome" and still the ship had enough power to tractor an asteroid or fire phasers before everything fell apart.


    (Incidentally, judging by that latter example, it's the powerplant that fails first, and the dilithium might be the thing that fails first within the powerplant. The actual drive system, the warp coils and whatnot, can apparently take a lot more.)

    The supposedly important intercept mission in ST:TMP was also run at warp 7, suggesting things hadn't improved all that much between the TV show and the movies.

    As for exact numbers, it's almost impossible to tell. In "Arena", warp seven is apparently only sustained for some minutes, during which Kirk delivers a monologue; it's unlikely there would be major cuts there. Warp eight is actually sustained slightly longer, in a hot pursuit sequence where there definitely shouldn't be major cuts. But against the ability to sustain warp nine for "hours", or warp ten for something like five minutes in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", this evidence proves next to nothing. We never actually see the ship's engines burn out from warp travel.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Santaman

    Santaman Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I do think that Warp 7 was the fastest they could go without getting sucked into another wormhole/exploding/screwing up the engines since even Spock's helping hand only make the drive work, not tune it to optimum performance.
     
  4. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Admiral

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    Timo's answer is a pretty good one.

    If you look at the original series, the times when the ship got to Warp Nine or higher are actually pretty rare and under unusual circumstances.

    "The Paradise Syndrome"- causes massive stress that ultimately wrecks the reactor (the channeling the phasers through it finished off the antimatter reactor).

    "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield"-Bele manages to boost the ship to Warp 10 but then again he has massive telekinetic powers.

    "The Changeling"-Enterprise jumps to Warp Nine and beyond when Nomad supercharges the engines, Kirk quickly telling him the ship can't take that kind of stress.

    "Is There Truth In No Beauty"-ship briefly exceeds Warp Nine when the mad engineer takes control in the engineering room.

    "By Any Other Name"-the Enterprise manages to travel at Warp 11 for a sustained period, but only after the Kelvans spend some time modifying it. For all we know they might've had to completely disable the weapons systems and other key systems to upgrade the engines'

    "That Which Survives"- the Enterprise engines are sabotaged. They run wild for a few minutes, eventually topping out at Warp 14.1 before Scotty manages to shut them down.

    "The Enterprise Incident"-Enterprise flees the Romulan task force at Warp Nine. But only for a few minutes apparently

    So long time Warp Nine and over runs were very rare. Anything above that was mostly as a result of outside forces.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The very fact that the ship can achieve those speeds, albeit under duress, is quite different from what would happen with today's naval vessels. Those are maxed out in terms of hull and propeller design, and if the engines "went wild", they would just tear themselves apart instead of giving extra speed to the ship.

    It would appear that starship warp coils can take whatever is required of them, be it the rated warp eight or an unplanned-for warp eleventeen, or even the occasional jump to infinite speed. By jamming open the feeds to the reactor, the baddie of the week can pump in more power, giving more speed - but the reactor doesn't like it, as in "That Which Survives" or "Hollow Pursuits". And at some point, the structures of the ship stop cooperating, too - an apparent limiting factor in "The Changeling" and "Threshold".

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was asking for quantification of times at a certain speed. However, the coils and plasma feed can take up to Warp 14+, but the failures are firstthe reactor and then the structural integratey of the vessel.
     
  7. Vance

    Vance Vice Admiral In Memoriam

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    There's no need to be snippy, as you got your answer. There is no official documentation on the subject. The engines failed at the speed of plot.
     
  8. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I was not attempting to be rude. Unfortunately I forgot about that writing technique when I started this thread.
     
  9. USS KG5

    USS KG5 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I imagine the same rules apply as to any machine, my car has a rated maximum speed of 129mph. If I chose to drive it at 129mph constantly apart from probably killing myself I would use a tank of fuel very quickly, need to service it every week instead of every year and the cars engine would only last a year or two.

    Drive at the speed limit most places as I do, I get by with a service every year and have good fuel economy and hopefully a long lived car.....

    The Enterprise is the same - cane along at Warp 10 for more than a short time and things start to break, warp 8 is slightly better but still rough on the engines, warp 7 is fast but can be cruised at if you dont mind using a lot of fuel and making an earlier visit to a starbase, and there is an economic speed (warp 5 maybe?) that suffices in most circumstances.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    To be sure, it might be relevant to know whether a TOS engine is really being taxed when going at warp 8 as opposed to warp 6, or whether that is more similar to the difference between 30 mph and 35 mph. You don't do 35 mph in a dense urban area because of traffic hazards, but the difference in speed wouldn't really show in terms of engine wear and tear, fuel consumption or the like.

    The awful whine from the engine room that accompanied every acceleration to warp 8 seemed rather baseless at times, when the engines really could sustain such a speed for days if need be. Did that consume a lot of fuel? Did that wear down the dilithium? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. The speed limits set in "Arena" sound extremely conservative in light of later episodes in any case.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That is why I ask for the quantification of warp speed versus total time at that warp factor.
    The whining noise is more a dramatic effect than an indication of true engine stress,IMO.
     
  12. Tiberius1701

    Tiberius1701 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    There might also be local conditions that effect how fast a ship can go and for how long. These might be gravity wells in the area, subspace distortion or anomalies, density of gases and particles, and so on.

    There might also be situations with the ship over time. For one, there could have been various small refits between certain episodes that either improved those figures, or perhaps did something like improve shields but at the expense of some other systems that have the effect of lowering the time you can be at a given warp factor, and that may have changed again later with another upgrade.

    And there might be variable conditions with the ship. What is the current crystalization of the installed dilithium crystals? Have the power systems been configured for scientific long range scanning when the emergency broke out? Does reconfiguration take a day or two and in the meantime some efficiencies are altered (such as how long you can maintain a given warp speed)?

    Real life is often messy like that, and that's good news for writers :)