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12 May 2012 @ 12:47 pm
TO Space, and Beyond!  
With respect to this article where a guy says we should build a USS Enterprise (Star Trek-esque, minus warp drive) Real Soon Now:

I'd love to see a project like this underway. I'm confused by some items, but what the hell. Why not try?

(Specific issues:
The USS Enterprise is far from an ideal design. Too many distinct planes -- the components should all be co-planar, or on 2 perpendicular planes.

I have no idea what the ideal size of a vehicle would be for the thrust-to-mass ratio, but something smaller would seem to be a better first-generation design. Instead of an ~450m diameter gravity disc, reduce it to 200m -- also, there is probably no need for generating a full g of artificial gravity. Something in the .5-.75g range is probably sufficient.

4 Nuclear engines? That's going past necessary redundancy. The Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers have 2 reactors that operate at 600 MW each, and there are land based reactors at 2GW. 3 reactors at 1.5GW should be well within reach -- Or even 2 at 2.5 GW.

The only reason I see to have a 4th reactor is if you're using a Thorium fuel system and need a breeder reactor to generate more fuel. Any design needing an active breeder reactor should probably be avoided, regardless.

Also, how exactly does a person transition from the rotating ring to the other parts of the ship? Only having exit ports through the axis of rotation is a bottleneck and inconvenient (you would have to transit the radius of the gravity ring to get almost anywhere). A system at the edge of the ring would have a -1g acceleration (which is surmountable, but also annoying). I'm assuming this is answered on the website, but the site is being hammered.

The ship can be designed and built in 20 years, but new instances are only being created every 33 years? Given that the build portion of the cycle is 11 years, and creating the second instance is going to be cheaper (accounting for inflation) than the first, that seems unnecessarily long. Given the size of the potential crew, and that no other rescue vehicles exist that could respond to a disaster on this vehicle, it'd see like you would want at least 2 available at all times (one in earth orbit serving as a station/port/rescue vehicle, the other in exploration).

Why any weaponization? Until, and unless, there are hostile forces in space, that seems unnecessary and just adds an additional technology that needs to be designed and built.)