Engineer Thinks We Could Build a Real Starship Enterprise in 20 Years


In Star Trek lore, the first Constitution Class Starship Enterprise will be built by the year 2245. But today, an engineer has proposed — and outlined in meticulous detail – building a full-sized, ion-powered version of the Enterprise complete with 1G of gravity on board, and says it could be done with current technology, within 20 years. “We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let’s do it,” writes the curator of the Build The Enterprise website, who goes by the name of BTE Dan.

This “Gen1” Enterprise could get to Mars in ninety days, to the Moon in three, and “could hop from planet to planet dropping off robotic probes of all sorts en masse – rovers, special-built planes, and satellites.”

Size comparisons of buildings to the proposed USS Enterprise. Credit:

Complete with conceptual designs, ship specs, a funding schedule, and almost every other imaginable detail, the BTE website was launched just this week and covers almost every aspect of how the project could be done. This Enterprise would be built entirely in space, have a rotating gravity section inside of the saucer, and be similar in size with the same look as the USS Enterprise that we know from Star Trek.

“It ends up that this ship configuration is quite functional,” writes BTE Dan, even though his design moves a few parts around for better performance with today’s technology. This version of the Enterprise would be three things in one: a spaceship, a space station, and a spaceport. A thousand people can be on board at once – either as crew members or as adventurous visitors.

While the ship will not travel at warp speed, with an ion propulsion engine powered by a 1.5GW nuclear reactor, it can travel at a constant acceleration so that the ship can easily get to key points of interest in our solar system. Three additional nuclear reactors would create all of the electricity needed for operation of the ship.

The saucer section would be a .3 mile (536 meter) diameter rotating, magnetically-suspended gravity wheel that would create 1G of gravity.

The first assignments for the Enterprise would have the ship serving as a space station and space port, but then go on to missions to the Moon, Mars, Venus, various asteroids and even Europa, where the ships’ laser would be used not for combat but for cutting through the moon’s icy crust to enable a probe to descend to the ocean below.

Of course, like all space ships today, the big “if” for such an ambitious effort would be getting Congress to provide NASA the funding to do a huge 20-year project. But BTE Dan has that all worked out, and between tax increases and spreading out budget cuts to areas like defense, health and human services, housing and urban development, education and energy, the cuts to areas of discretionary spending are not large, and the tax increases could be small. “These changes to spending and taxes will not sink the republic,” says the website. “In fact, these will barely be noticed. It’s amazing that a program as fantastic as the building a fleet of USS Enterprise spaceships can be done with so little impact.”

“The only obstacles to us doing it are the limitations we place on our collective imagination,” BTE Dan adds, and his proposal says that NASA will still receive funding for the science, astronomy and robotic missions it currently undertakes.

A detailed schedule of building the Enterprise. Credit:

But he proposes not just one Enterprise-class ship, but multiple ships, one of which can be built every 33 years – once per generation – giving three new ships per century. “Each will be more advanced than the prior one. Older ships can be continually upgraded over several generations until they are eventually decommissioned.”

BTE Dan, who did not respond to emails, lists himself as a systems engineer and electrical engineer who has worked at a Fortune 500 company for the past 30 years.

The website includes a blog, a forum and a Q&A section, where BTE Dan answers the question, “What if someone can prove that building the Gen1 Enterprise is beyond our technological reach?”

Answer: “If someone can convince me that it is not technically possible (ignoring political and funding issues), then I will state on the BuildTheEnterprise site that I have been found to be wrong. In that case, building the first Enterprise will have to wait for, say, another half century. But I don’t think that anyone will be able to convince me it can’t be done. My position is that we can – and should – immediately start working on it.”

For the complete space nerd experience, check out Build The Enterprise.

Hat tip to Rand Simberg.

219 Replies to “Engineer Thinks We Could Build a Real Starship Enterprise in 20 Years”

  1. GOD!! I know one day this day will come.. Greetings my fellow trekkies!!
    It’s not on the movie again!! We will have it in the next 20 years.. in reality

    “Fate protects fools, little children and ships named Enterprise”

  2. With out the warp drive of course. But it would be a cool space hotel or space cruiser.

    1. I think u and i will be dead long before.. this 20-years enterprise plan maybe will lauch as a prototype first. need more than 20 years to reach the perfect enterprise, and make them as space hotel or space cruiser.. i say.. hmm.. about 100 years maybe?

      1. That is irrelevant, I will still get to fly in it. 🙂

        Also I could wear an eye-patch with a hard drive in it to recall my memory.

      2. So true we need at least another dozen wars before anything like this even gets to happen. So lets get a few more going and get out of our system.

      3. Not really, according to star trek lore the first warp drive ship was built out of the ashes of civilization after world war 3 and was aptly named “The Phoenix”

      4. War has absolutely nothing to do with this story – fictional or otherwise!

      5. I think Gene Roddenberry is some kind of man from the future. Without that nerd sci-fi, Martin Cooper form Motorola don’t have inspiration to build and establish first comm with handphone back in 1973. Martin said the idea come from the communicator.

      6. G.R. got his from hanging out on the set of the ‘outer limits’ and studying the daily shooting shooting schedules. Dick Tracy had one too.

      7. Of course, some of us were were reading/watching other science fiction before, alongside, and after Star Trek…

        Yes, the flip-open design was simply practical, but how many people are now using smart (and non-smart) phones of other designs now?

        One could just as well refer to the ‘two-way wrist radio’ of Dick Tracy.

      8. At least our children, grandchildren, etc.. the next generation have something to do with the space. Not just see it from tv, internet, or whaever, then say: “woow wonderful”, “woow gorgeous”, etc. They have chance to go toward the space directly. Anyway, what’s the fun live in this capitalism era? all of us here.. or common goal is.. to be rich and have lot of money, then die.

      9. No the goal is to be rich get longevity boosts and live for as long as we want to. Let the poor die.

    1. Thinking outside the box is one thing, living in a fantasy world is quite another…..

      1. So what do you call 2 wars over God told me it was the right thing. Seems to been lots of people behind Bushy boys little magic man talks to me retardation.

      2. Not true. What he’s getting at is that if the big men up top could easily use our time and resources and lives to have their own war over some silly fantasy world that has nothing to do with anything happening on Earth, then why can’t they use our time and resources and lives to do something a little more useful, even if it too is a fantasy?

      3. For one thing, you can theoretically involve *anyone* in a religious conflict. Indeed, young men with what they see as empty futures, and the belief in an afterlife reward of 72 servile women, are easy targets. After that, AK-47s and suicide bombs are cheap to obtain.

        But starships and other ‘useful’ things require one to have serious skill sets as engineers, technicians, scientists, etc. And it requires exponentially more in the way of funding, resources and support than terrorism and other ‘unconventional warfare.’

        That’s why.

      4. The apollo program was the most important stimulus package ever. Inspiring people it’s important.

        Some people think we do our jobs better if we are afraid to get fired if we dont do it. I like to think that we do our jobs better if we believe in it.

      5. Religion is always the excuse and never the reason.

        There are very few people that make decisions based on the teachings of religion (if they did, there would be very few wars). Most people (including all political leaders) decide what they want and use religion to justify and sell it to the public.

    2. A neurotic is a person who builds castles in the sky, a psychotic is a person who moves in to them.

  3. What absolute nonsense!
    The design is made for warp drive and artificial gravity plating. It also has a more important device – a deflector shield so it can move at high velocities without being damaged. Imagine what happens if something small hits it. I.e. Mass times velocity squared.
    Seriously, you would need some kind of ablation disk, then you need a large mass, and therefore more energy to drive it. The bigger the spaceship, the more the mass and energy required.
    Name of the company; Space Dummies Inc.

    Yea cannot change the laws of fhysics!!

    1. “…a deflector shield so it can move at high velocities…”

      Define ‘high velocities,’ then write up a calculation that shows that the ship he’s built in twenty years will reach that speed. (Okay, you can’t do that – his specifications are so vague that I can’t tell what he’s using for the triple-layer hull. But burden of proof is on the accuser, right?)

      Don’t get me wrong; I think the Enterprise body is being used for show, and that a more practical design is probably available. But vague declarations of the impossibility won’t convince “BTE Dan” to stop trying. Hard numbers will.

      1. ~1 to 50 km/sec seems reasonable for interplanetary craft, and I’d thought that was just a given. The faster you go the more protection you need.
        USS Enterprise is designed for warp, where the deflector shield protects the ship from whatever is directly ahead of it.

      2. You have misunderstood me. The fictional Enterprise has “…a deflector shield so it can move at high velocities…”, not this adopted design. The point is you have to protect the ship from high velocity meteors, dust or gas.

      3. Some of the early designs included the ship upside down, and a globe instead of the saucer section. The prewarp ships look more like submarines ins in space. (Check the ship in “Space Seed” and “The Ultimate Computer.”)

    2. What is up with the change the laws of physics. What law your law?. Laws are highly subjective because they change as we better understand them. Then we learn about NEW laws that make possible what old laws did not. We are continuing to learn and reassess our possibilities. we are far from LEARNING every law out there. Another person who is trying to pretend to be a scientist.

      1. “What is up with the change the laws of physics. What law your law?”

        Just quoting Scotty, Christian. (We are considering creating a actually spaceship here under laws presently established…)

      2. But just outright saying it can be done is a losers mentality. Everything is impossible until you try. We are not even trying just dropping bombs on primitive people and spending till it cripples us is a better idea. I don’t think so.

      3. “But just outright saying it can be done is a losers mentality.”

        Where did I say this, please?

    3. So what? They have to tweak it a little bit?
      And it only moves at snail pace?
      It is still very cool to travel in it.

      1. I see it as the first of the ISS capital ships of the Holy American Empire. If they don’t choose the triangular Star Destroyer design first.

  4. The gravity wheel needs some revisiting. Actually scratch that the whole concept needs revisiting.

    Think: Why spend hundreds of millions to billions of $ trying to emulate a fictional spacecraft from a TV show? Instead of sitting around making a detailed website which, frankly, is really just a dressed up book report on some disparate technologies, why not devote that effort into designing an entirely original means of space transportation? At least that might hold some actual merit and credulity.

    1. Coriolis torque would demand something that big have two counter-rotating rings.

      Why not just build the Dye-class Sleeper ships and spend the research money on cryogenics?

      1. Yeah cryostasis tech would be better if you want to actually be around when we develop this kind of stuff. Otherwise we’ll all be six feet under (well those who aren’t heads in cryonics dewars) by the time we have anything remotely resembling a starship.

      2. That’s coming, too.

        (Though in some cases, like a 200 year sub-light interstellar voyage, I’d still rather sit it out in some form of suspension, even if I *could* simply live out the trip.)

      3. You mean ‘cryonics.’ And talk to Alcor and other cryonics providers, they’d be happy to point you to those doing relevant research.

    2. Human response to gravity is a big hole in our understanding of space travel, or habitation on Mars and the moon. We know zero G causes muscle atrophy and bone loss but we don’t know the effects of fractional G. What is the minimum diameter of a gravity wheel that would provide healthy artificial gravity and what is minimum G to stablize muscle and bone loss? Right now no one has a clue.

      1. Good point. I have some problem with the constant acceleration from the ion engine. If the thrust is at 90 degrees to the axis of rotation of the gravity wheel, then whatever acceleration its thrust creates will be added to the local gravity as a point on the wheel moves “aft” and be subtracted as it moves “forward”. Seems likely to cause some disorientation, at least. “Down” would still be down, and “Up” would still be up, but we would feel alternately lighter, and heavier, as well as needing to lean alternately toward and away from the direction of rotation. I feel seasick…

        Now, if the thrust were in line with the axis of rotation, and the floors were able to adjust to what we would feel as level, there would be a balancing point possible.

        Just, it seems strange to see the Enterprise “Boldly Go” in that direction. 🙂

      2. We either need to be able to produce an artificial gravity field or a treatment to stop the changes that Zero G makes to the body. Long term exposer can permanently damage the organism.

      3. You can have 1 gee at any diameter you want, if you spin it fast enough.

        But people don’t do well in small diameter wheels, due to Coriolis Forces…

    3. Credulity is the willingness to believe that something is real or true, despite a lack of any evidence or reason to do so.

      I believe you’ve misused the word.

  5. why the size of the enterprise. Is it not cheaper to make smaller ships. this guy is very optimistic about it. in his 4 generation ship it can create a wormhole drive. If that really be possible than in 500 years we will control the galaxie

  6. If you want a large, ion drive spacecraft for interplanetary travel, this design is far from optimal. The engine nacelles are for warp drive, which this design does not have, making them an unaffordable extravagance. Instead start with a blank sheet of paper and build a ship optimized for the missions to be accomplished, with the technology available. However, any idea like this is dead on arrival because it will never fly politically, or in terms of economics.

    1. So true our economics right now is for war not space exploration, maybe in 100 years we will have outgrown the war part but I am not holding any idea that will be so.

      1. It’s irrelevant, anyway. If we ‘spent less on war,’ all that it would mean is that we spent less on war.

        It does not automatically follow that we’d spend more on ‘space,’ or whatever your preferred activity is…

        And NASA’s present state shows that not all of its problems would be solved by throwing more money at them, anyway. (sorry, Dr. Tyson) Bad policy, some of it imposed from outside the agency, doesn’t become good policy merely with more funding.

    2. For a ship this large to fly at all, it needs wide public support. A clean-sheet design might be better technically, but an Enterprise-like design is likely to be superior in its ability to excite the public. For that reason, I think this is an interesting approach and deserves consideration.

  7. Really? If we’re not getting much funding for plausible NASA missions/projects, why on Earth (no pun intended) would we get funding for this? I can just imagine the conversation before Congress:
    “We would like funding for a new project.”
    “Oh, really? What is it?”
    “The starship, ENTERPRISE! :D”

    This makes advocates for worthwhile space exploration look like a bunch of romantics or crazies. If you’re going to build something space-worthy, please make it useful. Nothing against Trekkies; I’m all for building a “starship”, but nothing says it has to look like the Enterprise. It’s already a symbol for Star Trek. Let’s build something that symbolizes real, human space exploration.

      1. ^bump
        ever notice how often a pic of A.E. shows him smiling?
        imagination is the most powerful force in the universe – today.

      2. Basing a real spacecraft on a fictional one displays a startling lack of both.

    1. The motivation and design are in the hearts of Trekkies already as a launching pad. It may not end up looking like Enterprize, but it is a jump to start with; & American ends with I can.

    2. Could we not start a war with Mars? That would get the money moving. We need a war with Mars!

  8. Don’t we need to fix things here, before we trash things out there!!

    1. When Have then ever been fixed here? What is the likelyhood they will ever be? We are an unnoticeable drop in space and we cannot even try trash any significant amount of space.

    2. Please turn in your satellite reciever your GPS receiver and stop watching the weather news if you oppose space exploration. And also stop using Google maps and Google Earth.

    3. Fix what, or has our history show we will not be fixing anything in the next century just like we did not fix them in the last century. Humans move forward and do war very well, everything else we have no brains for. Our technology is war driven or greed driven and that is about where it ends. Sure a few things are done for humanity sake but its minuscule.

    4. IMO, thats like saying one should change a baby’s diaper before taking it out of the crib, or telling a kid that he has to learn how to ride a bike before he can get on one, Or maybe like cleaning up before taking a bath.

      We have learned much in our short ventures into space I am confident we will be more capable of fixing things here if we go out there.

  9. The number one problem is shileding. Cosmic rays and solar flares are a constant threat, and I do not know of any satisfactory way around that, especially for something this size, with current technology. There are many more. Working out the propulsion, power scheme and supplies for extended missions for example. And just what use are warp nacelles with no warp engines? I for one would rather wait for antimatter propulsion (which means collecting enough fuel and a much better specific impulse) to build something this size and a power plant based on small and efficient fusion reactors. This is a pie in the sky topic, but at least worth of discussion for a reality check as these basic necessities are easily 50-100 years away and it seems that the will to fund basic research to get there even that fast is diminishing. Hopefully a rising and menacing China will get westerners off their laurels in the near future. The demise of the USSR was not the best thing for science, we need a new bad guy and islamist radicals aren’t cutting it since they have been retro when it comes to using science and technology to get an edge.

    1. The number one problem is shileding. Cosmic rays and solar flares are a constant threat, and I do not know of any satisfactory way around that, especially for something this size, with current technology.

      Then I suggest that you acquaint yourself with these articles:

      Scientists Designing “Ion Shield” To Protect Astronauts From Solar Wind;

      “Star Trek” Shield May Protect Astronauts;

      Magnetic shield could protect spacecraft;

      Overview of active methods for shielding spacecraft from energetic space radiation (PDF).

      1. A few things we need to fix first is that in the Star Trek future, after many years of war and 130 million deaths they were working all over the world together not on war but on making life better for all and then turning to the stars. Ion power is one way. We may never be able to synthesize enough antimatter to use if we can even harness it. (Hint: Don’t do your research on a planet or moon you don’t want to lose.)

  10. All power to him, perhaps the Hollywood could fund it. But as a spaceship design its totally impractical (to my way of thinking). Perhaps the best designs will come not from Earth bound dreamers, but from the practicalities of humans living in space. Such designs are likely going to be quite different from what we can imagine down in a gravity well.

  11. Let the man dream, dammit! We need dreamers in this world. Don’t knock him down for his vision. Even if this isn’t practical, it’s a great step in the right direction.

  12. Let the man dream, dammit! We need dreamers in this world. Don’t knock him down for his vision. Even if this isn’t practical, it’s a great step in the right direction.

  13. If you are looking for a concept for a spaceship from science fiction I think the “Discovery” on 2001 A Space Odyssey is a better choice.


  14. Practical? what’s not practical is a world where countries are tearing themselves and each other apart. impractical would be NOT in the very least attempting something like this. sure, it sounds a bit far-fetched, but then again in the 1800 noone believed that humans would or could attain flight, and in 1950 or 1960 if someone said “one day, man will set foot on the moon”, everyone thought that person was crazy. Guess what – we have done both. we attained the ability of flight in the early 1900s, an in 1969 we successfully landed the first persons on the moon. who is to say that this is impractical or improbable? I say go for it, just be careful which parts of the budget – education in particular – are going to be affected by any cuts, our education system has already suffered enough losses in the last 15 years. go ahead, BTE Dan, just make sure you do it right, and I’ll be one of the first “adventurers to sign up for a trip around our solar system in 20 or so years.

  15. All power to him, perhaps the Hollywood could fund it. But as a spaceship design its totally impractical (to my way of thinking). Perhaps the best designs will come not from Earth bound dreamers, but from the practicalities of humans living in space. Such designs are likely going to be quite different from what we can imagine down in a gravity well.

      1. Why any less than any of the other live series?*

        Indeed, one of the biggest problems of ST: Enterprise was that it was constrained to not violate continuity with what we knew would happen in their future. (Thus, they could never see a Romulan, that had to be reserved for Kirk.) And for the most part, they did.

        (*Note: I first heard Kirk’s middle name in the animated series, but not again until the movie ST6)

    1. They got that TV series all wrong. The Romulan/Terran war should have been fought or just starting. Messed up the time line royally.

  16. Add Heim theory powered warp drive (actually feasible with latest generation MgB2/BSCCO hybrid wires capable of >100T) and even the nacelles could be useful.

    Maybe Gene Roddenberry was onto something after all, a lot of the TOS designs mentioned that the warp nacelles were put there to keep the dangerous radiation away as was the engineering section.

    Seems that having the magnetic deflector at the front also makes sense as this could be used to keep spaceborne radiation away from the occupants and possibly even harvest it for power conversion etc.

    1. For page views, obviously;). Nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as they’re careful to only report the facts.

  17. And more importantly, what did he smoke before coming up with this idea… I want some too!

    1. China Great wall is the only reliable thing that China made. If I see the mark “Made in China” in Enterprise belly, I bet $ 100 she wouldn’t last more than 1 day in space.

      1. Boo! Your bias is clearly revealed. Such comments are absolutely reprehensible, mostly as it is just underlying racism and smacks of radical superiority. Say it for Africa-Americans and you’d likely get a lawsuit. Say it against the Chinese, then that is perfectly OK.
        I was very sick from food poisoning a few years ago by a tin of salmon that was off. The product was “Made in the USA.” Can I therefore say products from the USA are unreliable? I’d think not.

  18. Hmm..why limit yourself to 100MW lasers, hell Petawatt lasers are already possible. This guy who claims to be an engineer is full of hooey…which is a technical term for full of S**T. Why even spend money on something that isn’t original, or novel for that matter? Why not create a system of rail guns that orbit nearest neighbors and have ships that use solar sails or some form of solar based energy propulsion? There is so much more real technology that is much more efficient, not to mention a means for keeping people realistically safe. There is no way, even at the moment to ensure against cosmic radiation or even a way to prevent from large objects that are moving at higher velocities relative to the object traveling in space to be avoided.

    Warp based engines are science fiction. Wormholes while I believe are possible, mean that someone navigating through space knows that static destination already. it precludes the notion that space is dynamic, which it is so even wormholes are much harder to grasp. In order to have a line you need two points , a plane three points and so on and so forth meaning some form of virtual geomapping of space is needed (la grange based geo mapping would be ideal). To me it is much more practical to map as much of the areas you plan to explore with satellites and miniature robotic aids so that real time information can guarantee the safety of travelers during exploration and also mitigate against any or all unexpected cosmic events.

    I have more to say, but I figure it’s a waste on such a moronic thing as “let’s spend effort building a starship enterprise”, almost as stupid as “let’s build a lightsaber”.

    1. A lightsaber could be pretty handy, actually. I can see a lot of uses for a compact, high powered laser torch that seems to run for years on a single battery or whatever.

    2. What will limit you? The ability to generate the power required without compromising your other systems first. This isn’t fiction so there are limits. Why LASERs and not particle beams? LASERs can be deflected by clouds and polished surfaces.

  19. Don’t forget the Star Trek star ship coil system and Bussard Polywell systems in the nacelles.

    We need to move to and explore Magneto Hydro Dynamic propulsion & Shielding technologies.

    NASA’s VASIMR may usher in some of this.

    Did Trek have it right and can this really be done? Yup!

  20. That man.. I bet he have same feeling and condition like Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright experienced back in 1896. Everyone think the Wright brothers is a retard or ultimate dreamer, now see what happens with what the Wright brothers do.

    That ‘Enterprise’ ship is far from perfection.. just design or blue print (or just dream, who knows?). A starship is far more difficult rather that Chanute-Herring biplane hang glider by Wright brothers. Sure we will have lot of failure, engine blow, hull breach, and all the physic law adjustment when first what-so-called-Enterprise do his first starship fly test.

    Maybe in 2300, we will have the perfect Enterprise ship. My hope is.. let it be the cruiser class.. don’t turn that into battlecruiser or dreadnought starship class. Human greed is unlimited.. We all know know what human do with advanced technology, the nuclear bomb, they can destroy earth with that.. don’t let human have chance to conquer the galaxy with that advanced weapon stuff, they can destroy the galaxy.

    1. But the Wright Brothers also didn’t try to build something that looked like a Concorde or 747…

  21. A standard ion drive (albeit solar powered) spacecraft does 0 – 60 km/h in 4 days. This thing has orders of magnitide more mass than any ion drive spacecraft we have built (e.g. Dawn). Hence, the design prompts the standard question that applies to most science fiction spacecraft – where’s fuel tank?? Ion drive spacecraft will still depend upon a source of propellant to make it so.

    Apart from that you need to define a purpose for such an insane amount of mass. It’s implausible that 1,000 people are going to board something that does 0-60 km/h in four days – unless the plan is that they all procreate to create a Star Trek – Next Generation crew that gets to the Moon in 25 years or so 🙂

    1. Ion propulsion obviously is difficult, where I imagine this would have to be a VASIMR propulsion system instead. VASIMR is similar to ion propulsion.

      The design of the Enterprise on Star Trek was more done in the same way grills are designed for cars. It was done to give an impression to the eye, rather than to fit within physics and engineering requirements. The Enterprise starship looks more like a Boeing 7-series aircraft fused with a flying saucer than a credible spacecraft design.

      Of course this is all dreamscape stuff. It is not likely that something this large is going to be built in space, certainly not in the near future and maybe never. Real space science is being done with far more modest spacecraft that do not have people on board. The ISS has to be admitted to be very low on actual science, and was meant really to be some space based diplomatic program. The space shuttle offered a bit more space science with its service missions, such as to the HST, but just as with the end of the Apollo program the now decomissioned shuttle program may signal the beginning of the end of an era, which may include the whole manned space program. This Star Trek idea seems to be something that is inspired by dreams more than credible science.

      Given the nature of what we find in just the solar system it appears that space environments are exceedingly forbidding, and the energy costs for getting there very high. I think it is probable that humanity will never move into space in the way depicted by science fiction. However, there is a lot of space science that can be done, and we can will enough visit planets, other solar systems and the cosmos at large by spacecraft, probes and space science systems that generate a virtual reality.


      1. Yes, I don’t think it’s a particularly credible idea – although an article that gets 100+ comments deserves acknowledgement for just doing that.

        I think as remote sensing technology continues to improve, the need to physically be somewhere else will decline. We will probably explore the universe from the holodeck by virtue of our robot explorers sending back raw data for us to interpret.

  22. We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let’s do it,….Let’s do it? Surely that should read “make it so”

  23. I’m sure this isn’t the first time it’s been proposed and well let’s face it we already had a functional spaceship called “Enterprise” so let’s build another one!

    I just wanted to point out that we’ve been working on an International space station for how long? I think maybe his estimate on how long it would take to get funding is a little optimistic.

    Personally I think as long as we see everything’s value in term of dollars we’re doomed to sit here on this rock until kingdom come.

    The fact is that such an endeavor will take more than money it will take a radical shift in today’s paradigm on what we value in life. We need to see the big picture and think in terms of the future of humanity not the value of an individual group getting to space first!

  24. Though this idea is beyond merit at this time building a ship is possible in a smaller size. If we stop playing war and spending now 1 trillion dollars a year you could build some very interesting things if people put their minds to hit. But no way people here are going to think like that. Lets just spend it shooting down rag heads and primitive bigots in some rocky useless part of the world, much bigger hard on.

      1. So speaking the truth makes one a “stupid jerk” but not you who wishes to ignore it?

    1. The problem is that people respond to the violent or objectionable actions of other people. If you want to motivate people to rally against a problem put a human face on it, preferrably if that face looks different, or put that face under another flag, believing in another God and so forth. Some terrorist hijackers in 2001 got this nation to spend trillions on war, while other problems that put our entire species at risk are largely unaddressed. I think this is something built into us from our evolution from apes.

      It sounds good that maybe humanity could commit a substantial percentage of its wealth and resources to colonizing space. I still am not sure of the prospects for this, but it might stand a chance if we did that. The problem is that our basic behavior is such that we will never do that. The largest single organized activity our species has always engaged in is war. I suspect it will always be that way.


      1. I see some possible ways around this issue. Since WWII, much of humanity, particularity in the developed world, has had a reprieve from the worst repercussions of warfare. Many put this down to nuclear weapons and diplomacy. However, I gather these points are minor compared to the networking effects of the global economy, and the pervasiveness of communication media. IT tends to discourage war and lessen the impact of state propaganda by offering counter narratives (i.e. a classic example of this was Vietnam). In addition, the global economy interlinks communities in a way that makes warfare financially unattractive outside state defense industries. As long as the overwhelming portion of the economy remains outside the defense industry, the market will pressure government to maintain the peace. Countries that have overly large defense industries will be more likely to engage in conflicts.

        Some of these networking technologies have the ability to redefine our business and personal connections. Communication technology is trending to increased accessibility, globally. Closed networks (i.e. language communities) may not remain so forever, (i.e. development of functioning real-time translators). These developments might redefine ‘otherness.’ I suspect this change in thought will eventually work its way up into the statesmen demographic over the next couple generations.

        Finally, the long-term possibilities in genetics may provide opportunities to tackle evolutionary traits that could be seen as maladaptive to modern society. We might be able to tackle aggression and other conditions at their neuro-chemical roots.

        In short, technological change may spur social change. We might even reshape what it means to be human. These developments may allow society to break free from wasteful pursuits.

      2. A friend of mine works on what might be called cyber-warfare. This is a rapidly growing issue. The internet and IT has permitted a new type of warfare.

        I am personally opposed to the idea of genetically modifying our species. I frankly think we will screw things up for ourselves.

        Our function in the world is to increase the entropy of this planet. Everything we do makes a mess or waste. In fact it is why capitalism works. It demands exponential growth of capital, which means people can consume more, and thus waste more. We are here to tear down the natural world and convert it into garbage. It comes down to the maximum entropy principle.


      3. Probably true – but what the heck, let’s go and screw up some exoplanets next.

      4. Imagine what economic forces might be predominant in next100 years. Hard to do? Food or fuel? Water or care? Imagine how lunar mining or asteroid mining might effect that equations. Imagine mid ocean aqua farms and how other, unknown factors might come into play. Too many variables?

        As an optimist I believe we haven’t even begun to tap the resources available to us! WAKE UP! As far as we know.. this whole solar system belongs to us! There are SO many resources yet to be explored – resources that are laid out before us.

      5. I think the problem remains that the cost in energy and material required to procure and process materials in space will remain larger than the payback obtained for the foreseeable future. Two weeks ago we all got proposals for asteroid mining, with some CGI animations, but the technology required to get an effective return on investments simply does not really exist. Just think of the huge asymmetry involved with building a 3000 ton Apollo-Saturn rocket to return a hundred kilograms of lunar rock that had the resource value not much greater than basic basalt.

        If there is a ghost of a chance for space industry beyond comsats and weather, it is with solar power satellites. The commodity is massless, which makes the cost in moving it minimal. Even with this I think the prospects are not at all clear, but it seems to be a far better bet for the current status of technology and space systems.


      6. Is it possible that the return on investment never happens? That the first resource we run out of also is the one most needed for exploiting space: energy.

        So as energy becomes more scarce, the cost rises, and the return on investment goes down. This continues until we run out of resources and society collapses.

        I hope we are smarter than that. If not, then i think we deserve what we get.

      7. It might be that solar power satellites never give a positive return on energy-resource investments. Of course the best way to ascertain that is to try. I do think this stands a better chance in the near future than trying to mine asteroids.

        It could be that we will never make any movement into space beyond space science. If that is the case we will have learned something and will need to respond appropriately. If Earth is the only planet we can really live on then we will need to make the adjustments necessary.


      8. your missing the point. its not going to be brought back. The idea is to get a “space economy” going. The primary focus being why spend all this money taking things up when there is more than enough up there already. you dont need all those massive saturn fives if the metal to make the ship is in space already!!!! The only things we need big rockets for will soon be to get the initial infrastructure up into orbit.

        The problem in this world is a lack of vision….at the moment is that 90% of our creativity is being squandered making shit movies and advertising.

      9. Key here is the ‘more with less’ concept… For example: A 2 ton satellite does 10,000 times the communications work of 5,000 tons of copper wire laid across the Atlantic. The computer in my watch has more processing power than the 20,000 vacuum tubes in the ENIAC computer (1st). Now think of the Saturn rocket compared to Space Ship 1 attached to the White Knight.

        Where I’m going with this is that old idiom, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” And I think we have the will, now that we have the idea in place.

        Economics? Pshaw… I am in favor of using Mustard Seeds or Sea Shells for currency! Wampum? Womp em good!

        Bottom line is that we are only limited by our imagination(s)….

      10. “I frankly think we will screw things up for ourselves. ”

        He says, while typing on a magic box connected to as many other magic boxes as there are humans. This magic box is very possibly small enough to fit in your pocket and also allows you to communicate telepathically to anyone else with a magic box. You could even do this while 5 miles up in the sky traveling at hundreds of kilometers per hour. Finally, provided that you live in a western democracy, you could do all of this for a fraction of a month’s salary.

        I think we’ll be fine. There is no reason to think humanity will end its 10,000 year winning streak any time soon. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful as hell, but not even try? Sorry, I just don’t see the logic.

      11. I agree with your point of view, and also point out that your point of view depends on an educated populous. Politicizing education is the surest way to end this process.

      12. Have you ever meet anyone who thinks war is a good thing, or wants to go to war?
        … and yet we go to war.

        If you were ever in need, would your friends help you out?
        …and yet we have homeless and hungry masses.

        Would you ever want your friends or those close to you to work in sweat shops under slave labor conditions?
        …and yet we have hundreds of thousands if not millions working in deplorable sweat shops.

        Taking those statements as fact, we could draw a generalisation about humans that they; don’t want war, want to help others and don’t want to see the suffering of others.
        …and YET our planet is full of wars, suffering and selfishness.

        Within that conundrum is the answer to why this planet is the way it is…

      13. Great post Sean, perfectly said.

        These atrocities only seem to matter when they affect us, or our close friends and family.

        Extending from that, we get much more emotionally involved by seeing a video of someone getting shot or blown up than by reading about it, which we do and pretty much dismiss every day. It’s too detached to get charged up by just reading or hearing about it. But a video of a cold-blooded killing can reach the world in seconds, and have everyone agreeing—it’s a horrible thing, the perpetrators should be caught and jailed/killed, etc. What’s the difference? We SAW it and felt it viscerally.

        So, perhaps one way to make some progress towards peace and human rights (and it’s definitely happening more and more, given communication technology) is to capture the atrocities wherever they occur and publish them for the world. At least this way, more people can “feel” how awful it is, even if the people affected aren’t friends or family. Add to that the power to mobilize via communication technology, and political and human-rights movements have a LOT more potential than they did in the past.

  25. To address the “deflector shield” issue: An array of LASERS or 1-5 very large LASERS along with exceptional imaging systems could easily be tasked to clear a path of debris, as well as provide LASER ranging and imaging. Heck, even mass spectrometry.

  26. Interesting “far reach” scheme. The asteroid exploitation firm Planetary Resources is similarly incremental and bold. I know how to privately fund patient capital investments, which I have applied to solid rocket programs, which could be applied to such ventures if they have revenue streams that are identifiable. I would be very skeptical of any governmental funding in any way as too unstable and having too many strings attached.

  27. We as a species have to keep pushing out boundaries and space exploration is whats next. We just have to overcome the shortsightedness of our political leaders first.

  28. Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century.
    Lily Sloane: No money? You mean, you don’t get paid?
    Captain Jean-Luc Picard: We work to better ourselves.

    The way the world should be..

    1. We have same view.. I don’t wanna lied, I need money of course. But, it make me sick.. to see people fight each others, kill, stab from behind, etc.. all for the bigger amount of money we take.

      I’m not lazy-type person.. Of course I want to work hard, but not like in this era.. you work hard, get money, then that stuff make your life happy ever after. That word by Jean-Luc: “We work to better ourselves”, that’s sound WOW, holy.
      not: “We work to better ourselves (financially)”

      1. People fight for/over whatever they consider to be of value or importance to them. Money is merely one of those things. Absence of money wouldn’t change the basic behavior.

        And I’m sorry, but in a future post-scarcity society where everyone’s needs are somehow provided for without employment, I predict a *lot* of couch potatoes…not everyone is going to run out and do whatever constitutes ‘bettering ourselves’ if they didn’t have to work for a living.

      2. As we’re finding out with the current generation, couch potatoes tend not to breed. I predict that within 4 generations they’d have mostly died out. There would be (and is, honestly) an *intensely* strong selection pressure against couch potatoes.

      3. There are a couple problems with that:

        1. Your assuming that laziness is genetic. Even if the assumption is true, it will take a long time to remove all the DNA contributing to laziness from the gene pool. I think it’s far more complicated than that: combining motivation, ability, and situation.

        2. Lazy people would just get together with other lazy people. The pressure to mate far exceeds the pressure against mating with couch potatoes.

        I do think the problem is solvable, if we invest the time and effort into researching and implementing solutions for it. I see no reason why societies can’t be engineered the same way star ships are.

    2. A very Jim Rohn concept. Become a millionaire for what it will make of you to achieve it.

  29. Considering the size of the Universe, it would be like we (humans?) trying to jump from one cell to another in another persons body, exploiting whatever is in the next cell. (Could be good/bad/neutral/multi-verse-travel)

    What comes to mind – does the total cost include a ‘backup’ Enterprise, just as in the movie ‘Contact’ with Jodie Foster, etc. where they have a “hidden, only for military personel jump-thingy”?

    If/when the Sun goes nova – there’s little point in being on Mars (and/or any other system in the solar system), broke due to the massive taxation it cost to get there….

  30. Seriously, why don’t you use kickstarter ? There are more tham 100 millon people waiting for this to happens that would surely aport a minimum of 10 dollars each ( surely much more ).

    You don’t need any goverment, let’s build it all together. Made by Humanity 😀

    1. i’m all for kickstarter.
      but still – 10$ multiplied by 100 million is still by a factor of 1000 away from the projected costs.

      i guess there would be 100 million willing to spend 100$ a year – closer, but still not there yet.

  31. Seriously, why don’t you use kickstarter ? There are more tham 100 millon people waiting for this to happens that would surely aport a minimum of 10 dollars each ( surely much more ).

    You don’t need any goverment, let’s build it all together. Made by Humanity 😀

  32. First, let us mature enough to understand and adopt the Prime Directive. It is not about Technology, it is about Evolution. We are not there yet, we are still a bunch of cavemen here fighting over resources with more advanced weapons. Hopefully by 2245 we will be there.

  33. it could be built! but in the real world the US owes the chinese trillions of dollars. if we went and built this with their money theyd nuke us just on general principle

  34. this is great but I’m pretty sure we can do better than a old 1960’s design 😉

  35. Young Fernando Columbus: Of all the words my father wrote – and there were many – I remember these the most: “Nothing that results from human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. And those who are enlightened before the others are condemned to persue that light in spite of others.”

    Sanchez: [Columbus stops Sanchez after he leaves an audience with the Queen. Sanchez looks at him, disgusted] You’re a dreamer.
    Columbus: [shooting a glance out of a window] Tell me, what do you see?
    Sanchez: [pausing to look] I see rooftops, I see palaces, I see towers, I see spires that reach… to the sky! I see civilization!
    Columbus: All of them built by people like me.
    [Sanchez doesn’t respond – shocked]
    Columbus: No matter how long you live, Sanchez, there is something that will never change between us. I did it. You didn’t.

    1492 Conquest of Paradise

  36. *Looks at title of article* “Engineer Thinks We Could Build a Real Starship Enterprise in 20 Years”, *looks at amount of comments posted* “105”. Oh great, I can only imagine the chaos.

  37. The Enterprise is 289 meters long…not 960
    The Enterprise D isn’t even that long, only 642

  38. mm yeah.. and you think that the shuttle is the best we have?
    I am sure we have a fleet of ships that make the enterprise look old fashioned.
    Wake up.. what do you think they do with the black budgets?

  39. I’m happy that he’s not afraid to think big, but I think he could have gone for a much better design on this project. I say we scrap this design, and settle for something more practical. Maybe something along the lines of, I don’t know let’s say… an Imperial Star Destroyer? 🙂 Yes it will take us longer to build, but I believe it’s well worth the wait, and it’s weight in valuable resources.

    Advantages for ISD over Gen1 Enterprise

    Not only are ISDs, space ships, a space station, carries, and space ports; we will also be able to pass it off as a military weapon, and gain military funding from the government. ISD can hold up to 50 times the amount of passengers than the Enterprise, and 100 times the payload, or potential resources from asteroids. ISDs are fully equipped with ion shields, canons, and powerful lasers. There will be no fear of space debris, CME, cosmic rays, or any other hazardous stellar medium phenomena, within our solar system. Best of all, Imperial Star Destroyers should appeal to all masses in some aspect, (I am optimistic, but I can imagine that a lot of large money grabbing companies, will want a stake in this project.) so lets make it happen.

    …may the force be with you

  40. They said we would never break the sound barrier, I feel humans can do anything if they put there mind to it, and put money aside for that one moment.

  41. There are billions of the other worlds in this galaxy. Someday people will start to reach them after all. I don’t care if it happens in 2300 or later. I just know they will.
    I’m sad that I live in a quite primitive era, compared to the possibilities of the future 😛

  42. Hey someone interested in building Halo’s Pillar of Autumn? I’m especially looking for fusion reactor engineers and artificial gravity/anti-gravity specialists. People that are familiar with MAC’s (Magnetic Acceleration Cannons) are also welcome.

    No seriously, every person should set up a purpose in his life but I hope he doesn’t take himself too seriously. However, better to dream about the impossible than having no dreams at all.

  43. This is the best idea ever!
    The governments will not listen though, but I bet the money could be collected through Kickstarter over a couple of years.

  44. At some point in the future China is going to build this while a nation of cynical Americans sits on their asses declaring the impossible.

    I believe our drive was cut from the budget, just like the Space Shuttle program.

    1. The Shuttle needed to be retired, other US spacecraft are coming (if Congress doesn’t strangle Commercial Crew, in favor if Orion/SLS which will be longer and costlier), and China does one manned mission to LEO about eery two years. That is just not something to worry about now, or anytime soon.

  45. Somehow to me it seems missing the boat if you have such a ship without the benefits of warp drive. Why have the two attachments on the sides that are supposed to be warp drives if there is no warp drive? Yeh it looks neat but if they do not work it seems to me to be a hugh waste of money and time.

    Lets get real creativity around here and really develope something like warp drive that can enable us to really travel to distant planets in hours not years… and distant galaxies in weeks not generations… Then lets build an Enterprise.

    1. Desprite being theoretical possible, warpdrive will probably never be a viable option, because it needs a lot of energy . And I mean a lot.

      Using matter/antimatter as a powersource, you can power the whole of human activity on Earth, transportation, lighting, machines, heating, cooling and so on, using 5000 kilogram matter and 5000 kilogram antimatter.

      To accelerate a single gram of matter to beyond lightspeed you would need mass equivalent to our sun and and another sun made of antimatter.

      Almost all problems related with the Alcubierre warp-drive are solvable, but its energy consumption makes it very unlikely one will ever be built.

      A video explaining the idea and giving you a heap of keywords for google:

      1. Sorry, but until and unless we find something in physics that says any forms of FTL are possible, we can say little or nothing about how much energy it would require. It might mean the Sun’s annual output…or it might only mean enough to run a toaster.

        I tell those who also whine about how ‘chemical rockets are so inadequate,’ and dream of a reactionless drive (ignoring all non-chemical rocketry), the same thing. If it’s ever possible, you can’t know the efficiency. It may be better/easier, it may not.

        At this time, we can’t really say.

      2. The Alcubierre warp-drive isn’t FTL, otherwise it would be incompatible with Einstein’s theories. It modifies the space around it giving the effect that it seems to be moving faster than light for somebody outside the warp-bubble. Inside the bubble you would have no sensation of movement at all.

        We know how to modify space/time. We do so every day. It takes a lot of mass or a lot of energy for any significant effect. The formula from Alcubierre actually tells us how much energy is needed. No clues on how to build the thing, but we know quite precisely how much energy is needed.

        The Alcubierre warp-drive is real in the sense that it could be done in theory and in doing so doesn’t violate any fundamental laws of physics. A reactionless drive violates conservation of momentum and conservation of energy and cannot possibly exist in this universe.

      3. Many German scientists said the same thing during WW2 in Germany when Hitler was trying to develope the super bomb (Atom Bomb) They thought to be effective it would require more atomic fissile materian than existed in the world to work. That was until someone figured out you do not detonate it by exploding it but rather by imploding it.

        We do not now have the know how or the technology to do something like warp drive now and it may be generations in the future but to say it will never happen is like someone from 1912 saying man will never travel to the moon and come back home alive, mankind will never travel through the air on giant airplanes accross the country and around the world.

        Be careful saying something can’t be done. Sooner or later someone propbably will.

      4. I’d like to be proven wrong. But, ‘das Uranverein’ failed because people didn’t understand how profound the understanding of science was at that time. Most of the theories of that era are proven to be correct to within less than 0.00000000000001% of their predicted values.

        As much as I’d like to believe in star trek warp drive, transporters, holodecks and replicators, I believe it’s not going to happen. Not in the next million years and not in this universe. (A perfect time to point you towards the theories surrounding ‘the multiverse’.)

        But, the challenge stands: PROVE ME WRONG! Please? 😉

  46. Everything begins with a swarm of robot probes dispatched to Mars, the moons and the asteroid belt. As soon as a handful of probes discover either rare earths, fissionables or significant amounts of precious metals, the space boom will begin overnight. Nothing but greed or desperation will lead to a permanent human presence in space or on other bodies. I’d prefer the former motivation.

  47. Actually this sounds like the kinds of ships United Earth (we will need that too since not just one country built them after the Eugenics Wars and World War III) first. So maybe we should work on a United Earth but not one under the dominion of a Corporate USA.

  48. Yeah I can see it now, Borg sleeping with Cardassians, Klingons sleeping with Ferengi, and everyone is getting pulled over by space cops for navigating a starship while under the influece of Romulan Ale. And of couse the ruling government would be controlled by Tribbles who resemble our current government ( Eat, Poop, Say and Do very little, accomplish nothing, yet proliferate and cost us all money).

    I think I will find me a pretty empath, grab some Latinum, and start a new civilization on a hidden class “M” moon.

  49. Jason Hill,

    Right on man. What people don’t realize is that if it weren’t for dreamers we wouldn’t even be posting on here. My only regret is that our beloved Mr.Roddenberry isn’t here to witness this awesome event inspired by his creation.

  50. Jason Hill,

    Right on man. What people don’t realize is that if it weren’t for dreamers we wouldn’t even be posting on here. My only regret is that our beloved Mr.Roddenberry isn’t here to witness this awesome event inspired by his creation.

  51. Jason Hill,

    Right on man. What people don’t realize is that if it weren’t for dreamers we wouldn’t even be posting on here. My only regret is that our beloved Mr.Roddenberry isn’t here to witness this awesome event inspired by his creation.

  52. Good LORD people! A normal person with an imagination and hope for the future of this country would applaud this man for coming up with an idea that sounds awesome, even if it is impractical. You people have the imagination capacity of a brick wall. No wonder this country isn’t getting anywhere, it’s full of people whose idea of dreaming is wondering when the next paycheck is coming in. Christ’s sake people, it might be crazy but goddamn if it doesn’t sound exciting. “This man needs to get back to reality” You need to stop worrying so much about reality and have a little fantasy in your life. Humans aren’t totally built on reality. If we were, we would still be stuck on a single continent. Start dreaming, people.

  53. Hey…. Love this. But It needs to have global cooperation in order to make it achievable. We need to have representatives from every race, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and age on that ship. It can’t just be a bunch of 40 something white dudes up there. This mission needs to be inclusive.

  54. The warp drive issue is interesting, for the Alcubierre warp space requires the source of the field to be at the sides of the warp bubble. So a ring structure or maybe the warp nacelles on a starship might be present.

    Physically the warp drive runs into a degree of trouble. This is primarily because the source for the warp drive has a negative mass-energy content. This does horrible things to physics. In particular the eigenstates of quantum mechanics are not bounded below and the vacuum is not stable.

    Physically this is a spacetime which compresses space in a region in front of the warp bubble (and by extension the spaceship) and expands space in a region trailing the bubble. If the bubble compresses a 100 meter region at the front of the bubble to 10 meters this then means the effective distance to the point A of departure and point B of arrival is reduced by 1/10. As a result if you are traveling to ?-centuri which is 4.3 light years away you effectively reduce its distance to .43 light years. So if you were traveling 8% the speed of light and you throw up this 1/10 warp bubble you then can effectively travel at 80% the speed of light. If you were moving at 50% the speed of light you then by applying the warp bubble end up moving at 5 times the speed of light.

    I told myself I would look into the case of the warp drive where the warp speed is slower than light, such as the first case I illustrate above. There might be an exception to the negative energy problem with that case. It is still the case that you have to apply a huge amount of mass-energy to curve spacetime the way you want. Also the coupling constant of gravity is 8?G/c^4 = 2.07×10^{-43}s^2/kg-m is very small, so a huge amount of mass-energy density is required to curve space. So even if physics permits a v < c warp drive the practical problems are still daunting.

    These issues are very deep, for the violations of the positive energy conditions lead to a violation of the cosmic censorship hypothesis. This is where a singularity in spacetime is cloaked by an event horizon. The string theory aspects of gravity, or other supergravity formalisms, treat the quantum modes of gravity according to a type of infinite algebra. It has also been found that some of the solutions to the Einstein field equation are equivalent to solutions of the Navier-Stokes equation (Strominger et al). The Navier-Stokes equation describes fluid motion, whether bulk fluid motion or water waves and so forth. It also turn out the Navier-Stokes equation has solutions which have isometries of the same infinite algebra in string quantum gravity. The question on the cosmic censorship hypothesis is then equivalent to the unsolved problem on the stability of solutions to the Navier-Stokes equation. There is a $million prize at ClayMath for a proof or disproof of the conjecture such solutions are stable.


    1. There is a $million prize at ClayMath for a proof or disproof of the conjecture such solutions are stable.

      Have you ever considered trying for that prize yourself, Mr. Crowell?

      1. Even if you exchange the Mr for Dr and do research and so forth, it may not be enough to solve this problem. The most I think I can do is to publish something which might be referenced by those who do actually work this proof. I did get honorable mention for a paper I wrote on gravitation

        which I learned about this morning. Yet this is a far cry from winning a ClayMath award. Some of the work I am doing right now might fit into a proof, but to really prove this will require hard work on nonlinear differential equations on a level that is beyond what I know.


  55. if he says it can get to mars in 90 days, how the hell is that not practical? Currently it takes 6 months to a year for stuff to get there. This way we can take a lot more equipment there that normally would not even have a chance of going.

  56. Unfortunately the current design figures are wrong. The Gen1 Enterprise won’t work as hoped. All hope is not lost – the Enterprise is a pretty good design. So how can we make it work? What does it need to get to Mars in 90 days? 2.5 GW of rocket power isn’t enough for the job if the launch mass is 84,822 tons as advertised. Might just do it if the mass is more like 8,482.2 tons or pushing the reactor output higher.

    Undoubtedly a working design can be developed, but this first draft needs more work.

  57. Since every one else is putting in my two cents, so will I.

    This project is totally a fantasy for 3 reasons:

    1) The Star Trek ship is probably not the ideal shape and configuration for an actual spaceship. Let the engineers work that one out.

    2) This project requires two or three large nuclear power plants. No one on Earth will ever allow that much nuclear material to be launched into orbit! Too dangerous, way too expensive and way too politically suicidal to allow. There are also enormous problems running a large nuclear power plant in space. The radiation from uranium power plants degrades the components of the power plant quickly and irreversibly, requiring very costly, time consuming retrofits and repairs – how will all this take place in space, millions of km away from Earth? How will you replace/dispose of the fuel rods after they are spent (average lifespan 18-38 months)? How will you effectively cool such a power plant without usable water (i.e. a river, large lake, sea or ocean next door)? So many problems with this plan.

    3) Money. The expense of lifting all of this stuff into space, which was estimated to be 200-300 heavy lifts, would cost many trillions of dollars alone, not including researching, building and assembling the components in space. That would cost many trillions of dollars more. You could take all of the current money available for all the world’s governments and you might have enough money.

  58. Just learning about this has really fired up my imagination. In part, what will make this happen is a group of scientists, engineers and other technical experts who can all step outside the theoretical restraints of status-quo science and unleash their imaginations and vision. You don’t start with, “We can’t do it because . . .”; you start with “Imagine that this has been done. What are the possible ways to do it?” The Wright brothers KNEW that flight was possible because they could see it every day when birds flew by. We need to know that FTL travel is possible, either in our vision or in fact. Unless some UFOs are actually FTL craft, we have to rely on our imagination and vision. Make it so!

  59. I have dreamed about exploring space and this could be my chance. I will study harder now so that my grades go up and I can go and become an actual astronaut. It would be incredible if someone did this project and I want to become a part of it.

  60. Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its 100-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

  61. I read through the story and 50 or so of the comments … it seems to me that if this spaceship is going to travel at very high speeds, then one thing it’s going to need but nobody had mentioned is some sort of shielding. Even pea to marble sized particles out there are going to pack quite a punch if the closing speed is going to be 10 kilometers per second or more. Does anyone have ideas about how to tackle that?

  62. While I feel the idea is good I disagree with the design. Even though I am a fan of Star Trek, those ships were made for warp drives and artificial gravity plating…their orientation is horizontal. This ship should be built more along the lines of the Phaeton from the film “Virtuality.” Basically, the Phaeton is a tower (Orion Pulse Rocket) with a perpendicular ring system attached. The tower has the energy, propulsion and fuel systems and the ring is the habitation area. The sections of the ring can pivot on their long axes so they are either facing inwards where they can use rotation as a gravity analog, or they can face forward and use the thrust of the propulsion as a gravity analog. It’ll still be expensive but it won’t have to fit into a hull that really wasn’t designed for it.

  63. Would be amazing if we could do something like this. However I think the more likely scenario for the first permanent spaceships we build is something more akin to the spaceship from the original Alien film. In other words a spacecraft whose sole aim is focused toward mining.

    The one advantage to this scenario is that if that mining ship proved to be profitable then significantly more money would be put pumped into builing more of them which would in turn lead to scientific improvements in this area. After all it would be far more profitable to have a faster ship as less time would be lost traveling around

  64. I personally think that one of the reasons we’re kept from truly pushing humanity forward is because the resources are held by people who have a vested interest in keeping the status quo. Why would a man that makes billions on oil be interested in alternative energy? Why would American politicians be interested in building the Starship Enterprise when they can make more money by invading foreign nations in order to give inroads to the energy companies that provide funds for the elections?

    If this sort of thing were to happen, it would very likely have to come from an international private citizenry that chose to simply bypass its governments need to be backward because that’s how they make their money and keep their power.

  65. This project could be a reality if we want it to be. We as a nation and a world need to look beyond our planet. The solar system we live in is finite and eventually will cease to exist, if we don’t start looking for options none will be available.

  66. To build a real starship Enterprise in a short time it is needed to develop a warp drive before.

  67. Fires up the imagination, that’s for sure…

    I think the design for an actual interplanetary ship would be much different…mainly smaller…with the highest priority being a way to safely and comfortably keep at least a good fraction of G (if not 1 G). We really need that for long-term missions. Also the shielding is essential, of course. Propulsion I’m not sure…fusion would be awesome, but we’re a long ways from that. Fission is a great power source but obviously has some, er, issues… 😛

    Really like the discussion about warp possibility. My gut feeling is that it simply isn’t possible the way we envision it—way too much energy required to move even tiny bits of matter faster than light. Maybe it can work but in a different way. Then again, it really might just be IMPOSSIBLE to move any significant amount, no matter how advanced we get…just a feature of the Universe itself. That said, I understand the sentiment about looking to the future and imagining…I’d be the first one to happily eat my words if I’m wrong. But there’s just something about it that makes me think we might have hit a physics “wall”, at least the way we see it today.

    Now, that said, I have great optimism for a couple other breakthroughs: a new clean energy source that works at ultracold rather than ultrahot temperatures (not “cold fusion” but “something else”)…the amount of weirdness that happens down there (like Bose-Einstein condensates), coupled with our ability to use high-powered lasers and magnetic fields, just makes me think that there may be hidden energy in certain types of matter which we just haven’t unlocked yet. I mean, look at uranium…how do we view it today versus 100 years ago? Maybe we just haven’t gotten the right combination of inputs to get a positive output, or there are attributes of certain materials which we don’t fully understand. If something like that really works, our energy problems will rapidly be solved..and we can use it to fuel starships!

    The other hope is for faster-than-light communications. So, it takes way too much energy to make matter go faster than light, but what about photons? Bell’s theorem? I can’t help but think there’s a way to harness that somehow. It might be like “subspace” from Star Trek. The restriction would be that we have to GET there first, using slower-than-light travel, but once there and having the transmitter/receiver, having instant communication (however it works) would be so incredibly helpful for any serious interplanetary exploration. And the best part just might be…that if we develop this technology for this, and aliens have too, that we can tap into their communications as well…so, no need to GO to other stars, we just Skype them instead!

  68. I like the idea, just not the approach. Ignore ship designs from popular TV shows and movies – most of them are highly impractical, especially the USS Enterprise. Plus this rotating gravity wheel this guy proposes is the result of engineer-think, missing a KEY principle of keeping things simple. The idea, as proposed, will never work, will not come in on budget, and won’t succeed in 20 years. It’s simply too complex, with many issues overlooked.
    I love the idea of having such a ship that can travel the solar system, but it needs to be practical, with a design that works and is simple and won’t become unmanageable before construction is completed. Build a flying saucer – a nice, simple, round design, with engines beneath so it flies flat-on, and then you can simply rotate the entire craft for stability and gravity simulation. No unnecessary, dangerous and expensive magnetically suspended rotating doughnut spinning in a vacuum that needs an air lock to enter after a crazy “elevator” ride. That is a design from someone who likes watching science fiction and is not thinking realistically or within the realm of the practical.
    Dream on. But do it right. If the idea of building a USS Enterprise replica was put before the eyes of the public, NASA would face even larger budget cuts than it currently has, due to public perception thinking NASA is even more frivolous than they already think it is. Yes, they’re ignorant, but a lot of ignorant people influence things in this country, unfortunately, so you have to be really careful what you propose to spend their tax dollars on.

  69. Things:

    1. The shape of the Enterprise was based on a sighting of one or more UFOs that was photographed briefly making such a configuration. It is not really optimum for a spacecraft.

    2. I am of the opinion that artificial gravity could be created over the entire craft without having to stand sideways on a rotating wheel. The technology exists, but it is being kept secret. We need to get rid of the secrecy. Maybe even warp drive could be revealed.

    3. To be good to humanity, I don’t believe that people should be forced to pay for this with an increase in taxes. I think that enough people would be willing to contribute without being forced. Maybe some surveys should be taken to investigate this.

  70. Things:

    1. The shape of the Enterprise was based on a sighting of one or more UFOs that was photographed briefly making such a configuration. It is not really optimum for a spacecraft.

    2. I am of the opinion that artificial gravity could be created over the entire craft without having to stand sideways on a rotating wheel. The technology exists, but it is being kept secret. We need to get rid of the secrecy. Maybe even warp drive could be revealed.

    3. To be good to humanity, I don’t believe that people should be forced to pay for this with an increase in taxes. I think that enough people would be willing to contribute without being forced. Maybe some surveys should be taken to investigate this.

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