Plan to build Star Trek replica takes flight

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 07/06/2012
Star Trek 2009

AMPLE NACELLES: The USS Enterprise orbits Saturn in JJ Abrams' 2009 tar Trek film.

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A space-worthy replica of Gene Rodenberry's 23rd-century Star Trek starship has been proposed at buildtheenterprise.org.

The project requires nine years of research and 11 years of development, with the ship built in space. It would be powered by a 1.5-gigawatt nuclear reactor and include three landing craft.

The project attempts to solve the problem of gravity by including a gravity wheel in the ship's saucer section.

At 960 metres long, the Enterprise would be the largest craft made by man.

"The Enterprise will inspire us," the website says. "The ship will be over a half mile in length. The size and technological achievement will be truly awe-inspiring – a worthy successor to the Apollo space programme.

"It will be bigger than any craft or building ever constructed by humans. We can finally demonstrate that the human race has figured out how to build comfortable and sustainable living quarters in space and that we are there to stay."

If the idea seems far-fetched, most of the gadgets conceived in the Star Trek series are now a reality and the United States government spent almost US$1 trillion (NZ$1.3t) bailing out banks when the latest recession hit.

Hamilton Astronomical Society president Dave Owen loved the idea, but thought it impractical, because the Enterprise was designed to travel vast interstellar distances, rather than within the solar system.

"It's possible to build a large ship like this with modern technology, but the idea of making it look like the Enterprise is unnecessary," he said.

"You will spend huge amounts of money trying to get it a certain shape and there's no way it's going to have warp drive."

A better idea would be to build a space station resembling one of Star Trek's starbases, like Deep Space Nine.

"That's much more realistic than the Enterprise," he said.

Kiwi Space Foundation chief executive Mark Mackay thought the first obstacle would be funding, rather than science.

"It's plausible that, given the willpower and funding, a ship like this could probably be built, but this is unlikely to occur in the current financial and political climate.

"There would be far more optimal designs that could be created to suit our current technologies and mission needs.

"The design of the USS Enterprise is influenced in part by its warp drive, so with alternate propulsion technologies, many features of the craft's design would not be necessary, such as the warp nacelles," he said.

Star Trek fans asked about the project on the website of Mark One Comics and Games in Hamilton loved the idea, but they wondered whether the money could be better spent.

"I think the funds used in its construction could be put to more beneficial use on Earth, such as a working time machine, preferably one bigger on the inside," Paul Barlow said.

"Maybe putting it towards something like cancer research would be more productive," Sam Hillman said. "But the Trekkie in me would love to stand on the engineering deck of a fully functional USS Enterprise."

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"Space exploration is important," Hanne Dusterwald said, "and we should be focusing much more of our energy on this than we currently are."

"That guy has spent a lot of time thinking about how this should be done," Michael Cullum said, "but I don't think his time frame is long enough."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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