Why saucers?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by NewHeavensNewEarth, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    With all the attention that Area 51's been getting recently, flying saucers are coming to the forefront of meme activity around the nation. With that in-mind, I thought I'd pose the question: why did Trek designers make so many ships to have a saucer section in Starfleet?

    Did show/model designers believe that flying saucers were built by the Air Force and would evolve into a Space Force? Now we take the design for granted, but any number of other designs would have sufficed. If any flying saucers are uncovered at Area 51, one of the first things any of us will look for is whether they have warp nacelles attached (and whether they glow with our color-of-choice).
     
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  2. BillJ

    BillJ History’s Greatest Monster Premium Member

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    Because the Enterprise was iconic, and identifiably “Star Trek”.
     
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  3. Vger23

    Vger23 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've always believed in-universe that it was considered an efficient way to layout the interior volume of a space craft, and that the saucer geometry lended itself to the most effective warp-capable design given Federation technology.
     
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  4. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    In science-fiction the production design defines the look of their world.
    Star Trek's Enterprise 1701, A, B, C, D primary hulls are all saucers.
    2OO1:A Space Odyssey's Discovery, Discovery Pods and Pan Am Aries-1B are all spheres.
    Space:1999's Eagles, Meta Probe and Ultra Probe command modules are all triangular designs.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  5. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Sure, but did the idea of using saucers originate from people's general perceptions about UFOs? I can also jive with the idea of having a common "look" that would span across Starfleet to differentiate itself from other species, but it just seemed like such a random design to latch onto, unless put into the context of UFO-mania. The show took more liberty with the designs of some species' ships, such as the Romulans (TOS vs. TNG), but those saucers have staying-power for the Feds.
     
  6. Cutie McWhiskers

    Cutie McWhiskers Commodore Commodore

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    Because teacups would look dumb? :razz::guffaw::guffaw:

    (sorry, couldn't resist)

    In sci-fi, a saucer has always been associated with a space vehicle. At least for aliens. Humans have used rockets, because of rocket fuel and escaping gravity via conventional known layman's means. A saucer helped, perhaps, sell the concept of a futuristic technological design. After all, Jefferies did keep the engineering areas separate and as far back for the sake of the crew's safety. I forgot which book I read that from but he did create the nacelles and engineering section, away from the saucer, should the engine be destroyed with eye-pleasing explosion and all. A lot of thought really went into this show, considering it was 1964, by Gene and his group.

    And Jeffries himself didn't want to do a generic saucer, he was intent on creating something big and new. Did he succeed and then some... It may have been the same book I'd read, or magazine article - I still have a number of the old Star Trek magazines, I'm fairly positive it was there...

    And, yeah, for realistic space travel, at least for creating gravity as we know it, something multi-layered (sphere or cylinder or whatever inside another, the outer one would be rotating to generate gravity - that seems more plausible but space science isn't my field...) I wonder how "gravity plating" works and how it can work when all other life support systems are down (or maybe not, at which point 50% of all Trek stories just cease to all suspension of disbelief.)
     
  7. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Indeed, but that's why it would be much easier to imagine Trek aliens having the flying saucers rather than Starfleet, unless the show's designers had their own ideas about the Air Force 'n stuff.

    Watching movies like "Oblivion," it seems like Trek has underused the rotational concept of defense/offense (among other things) in the geometry of its ships that operate in a 360-degree environment. Enterprise-D made use of it to some extent with the saucer section's phaser array, but overall, most ships seem to have a more mono-directional approach. So the saucer shape seems all the more underutilized and an odd choice.
     
  8. Henoch

    Henoch Commodore Premium Member

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    It was Forbidden Planet with a detachable star drive.
     
  9. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Kang, now with ridges Premium Member

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    There are a couple of rather iconic exceptions
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The saucer wasn't his first choice
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Doctor Bombay

    Doctor Bombay Serial Cat Lover Premium Member

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    What Henoch said. A lot of "The Cage" is homage to Forbidden Planet.
     
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  11. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I've kind of favored an idea that saucers were chosen because the primary hulls of TOS-era starships were designed to be giant evacuation vessels in the event the secondary hull had to be abandoned and that the shape was the most efficient for entering planetary atmospheres to make emergency landings (or crash-landings, if necessary). Any shape could probably do, but at least with a saucer, it might be easier to slide on a planetary surface if the landing wasn't entirely controlled, IMO.
     
  12. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    Well, after the sphere was rejected, they moved onto saucers.
     
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  13. mos6507

    mos6507 Commodore Commodore

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    From Forbidden Planet and Forbidden Planet went with a saucer because if you believe in UFOs then it suggests that saucer-like craft are where technology needs to go to be interplanetary / FTL. That seems like a safe bet, really, even if we don't know how to do it. Same deal with the Jupiter 2 in Lost in Space.
     
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  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Except that '50s and '60s sci-fi never limited its use of saucers to alien craft. Prior to the Enterprise, essentially every filmic spaceship, whether human or alien, was either a rocket or a saucer. The C57-D and the Jupiter II were mentioned above, but there were others. For instance, The Twilight Zone had plenty of human-made saucer ships (usually reuses of the C57-D footage and miniature).
     
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  15. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Why saucers? Why not?

    It gives the Enterprise a distinctive look, the outline of which can easily be sketched out, making it easy to identify to anyone (even non-fans). Having the different sections gives each a function that makes sense, the saucer could easily be detached and used as a lifeboat, same as how the nacelles could be ejected in the event of a catastrophic failure.
     
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  16. Takeru

    Takeru Space Police Premium Member

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    Because saucers were one of the go to designs and Star Trek was never as original or revolutionary as some people thought or still think.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sure, it was a distillation and popularization of ideas that were already part of SF literature and cinema, but it brought them together in new ways. Creativity is never about just pulling previously nonexistent ideas out of thin air; it's about taking the raw material that already exists and putting it together in a novel way. As I said above, the Enterprise was pretty much the first filmic spaceship I know of that was something other than just a rocketship or a saucer, though it had elements of both. (The Martian War Machines from The War of the Worlds don't count, since they weren't spaceships but ground-effect vehicles -- essentially tripod walkers with force rays in place of the legs.) So it was indeed a major innovation compared to what had come before.
     
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  18. Henoch

    Henoch Commodore Premium Member

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    Even though the TOS special effects for alien space craft showed them to be mostly blurry light blobs, I don't think they ever used a true saucer for any of them. They went out of their way to not use the traditional flying saucer. :cool:
     
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  19. Ar-Pharazon

    Ar-Pharazon Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    Cup & saucer section?

    Star Wreck I.jpg
     
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  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Although we did get one pretty traditional "rocketship" design, the Eymorg craft from "Spock's Brain."
     
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