May 15, 2012
Could We One Day Visit Mars Via The USS Enterprise?
Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com
Never underestimate the power of influence that Science Fiction has had on its fans.
In the same way it´s influenced inventions such as 3D holographic Telepods, Star Trek is now influencing one systems and electrical engineer known as BTE-Dan to build the Enterprise.
That´s right, Dan is urging the collective peoples of the World to fund and build the USS Enterprise.
On his site BuildTheEnterprise.org – which has been going up and down since this weekend – Dan provides designs, outlines and videos on ways to build the Enterprise. Dan´s plans aren´t for a ship designed to simply go to the moon and back, either. These plans call for a full-sized, ion-powered Enterprise complete with on-board gravity. Dan believes we already have the technology and if we get started straight away, we could have the ship built in about 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 BTE-Dan.
His first model, called the “Gen1,” could make a trip to Mars in a proposed 90 days. For a weekend trip, Gen1 could make it to the moon in 3 days. Should the Gen1 need to make some extra cash on the side, Dan suggests the ship “could hop from planet to planet dropping off robotic probes of all sorts en masse – rovers, special-built planes and satellites.”
Dan hopes the Gen1 could begin taking people to Mars by its third mission.
The differences between the sci-fi ship and the proposed Gen1 – outside from the very obvious ones – begin with speed. The Gen1 won´t, of course, be able to travel at warp speed. With its proposed ion propulsion engine powered by a 1.5GW nuclear reactor, it will, however, be able to travel at constant acceleration. This would allow the Gen1 to quickly arrive to planets and other interesting places in our solar system. Three other nuclear reactors will be employed to provide the rest of the necessary power to the ship.
As for the saucer, it will house a magnetically suspended gravity wheel to create the proposed 1G of gravity. It will take quite a bit of real estate to achieve this kind of gravity, however. The proposed saucer will measure 536 meters in diameter. For context, the Eiffel tower could lay across and still have some shuffling room.
And lasers? The Gen1 will be outfitted with lasers alright, but they will be used as protection against icy crust rather than defense against attacking Klingons. The lasers could be used to cut through a planet or moon's crust to enable a study of the oceans underneath.
In the beginning, the Gen1 would act as a space station and spaceport before eventually taking people on trips to the great wide unknown.
Of course, the only thing standing in the way of making such a large replication of the Star Trek vehicle is money, and it doesn´t seem likely Congress will fork over the funds to NASA to build something so huge and experimental.
BTE-Dan has plans for this, too, working out tax-increases and budget cuts in areas like education, energy, defense and urban housing. Sounding like a politician, Dan promises the cuts, as well as the tax increases, will be nominal.
“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.”
Dan also plans to build one of these ships every 33 years, or once every generation.
“Each will be more advanced than the prior one. Older ships can be continually upgraded over several generations until they are eventually decommissioned.”
It seems like a far-fetched plan, but Dan seems more than convinced that his plan will work. Who knows, maybe in 10 years we´ll be covering stories about the building progress of the Gen1.