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#1
Old 02-12-2012, 07:19 PM
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Space ships in sci-fi - which is the most 'realistic'?

As the title: in science fiction, what spacecraft, in your opinion, would be most realistic?

In this, I do not mean technological realism (so, phasers, warp and transportation can occur)

What I mean in realism in both their design and use.

For example: I love the Star Trek ship designs - the Enterprise is a beautiful ship. But I've always questioned how realistic it is.

It has a bridge on the top centre of the saucer section, like on a classic battleship - when surely the most sensible location would be deep inside the ship? They don't have (or need) a Mk. 1 eyeball view of space after all.

It has warp nascelles, from what I have heard to keep harmful radiation away from the rest of the ship - but on those long stalks, how difficult must it be to, say, rush from the bridge to Engineering? And what about those poor crewmen who maintain the nascelles, in among the radiation? Don't they get suits? In the TV shows, it seems they don't.

When the Enterprise encounters hostile ships, they seem to engage in combat terribly close. Would it in fact be more like modern Battlestar Galactica, where the ships seem to fight over huge distances?

Finally, what about fighters and other small craft? Star Trek seems to be a universe akin to pre-aircraft carrier battleships; something like Space: Above and Beyond or Star Wars however seemed like aircraft carriers in space.

This isn't a dig at Star Trek - or any show - intentionally; at the time the show was first made I'm sure it made absolute sense, and I still enjoy the franchise. But do you think any show has got it broadly accurate in how such ships would be designed and/or deployed?

What would, in your opinion, be the most sensible design and/or deployment of such spaceships?
#2
Old 02-12-2012, 07:42 PM
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The shuttles in Moonraker.
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#3
Old 02-12-2012, 07:49 PM
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The Star Trek / Star Wars thing is purely aesthetics based on plot. Star Trek took a naval analogy because its primary focus is (usually) on diplomacy & exploration, while Star Wars took an Air Force tact because it's primarily an action, militaristic combat-centric (Empire vs Rebels) universe.

I have to give major props to the new Battlestar for successfully putting not only a new but semi-realistic spin on the Star Wars motif. When I first watched the pilot miniseries I loved it when the fighters didn't shoot laser energy weapons, but simple particle-based ones (i.e. machine guns) and guided missiles. Kind of reminded me when I first saw Aliens and they were still using firearms, because there's no reason you couldn't (or wouldn't). Also when they had their first capital ship vs capital ship battle the way the Cylons simply launched a big volley of nuclear-tipped missiles at Galactica made me think, "Yeah, this is what the Klingons would do!" Galactica also gets honorable mention for showing their fighters moving via real physics (small maneuvering thrusters) instead of needlessly (and impossibly) rolling & banking like atmospheric craft (both Wars & Trek do this with impunity!)

As far as fictional ships being realistic, The Discovery in Kubrick's 2001 comes pretty close to perfect. The sequel too...
#4
Old 02-12-2012, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malden Capell View Post
It has warp nascelles, from what I have heard to keep harmful radiation away from the rest of the ship - but on those long stalks, how difficult must it be to, say, rush from the bridge to Engineering? And what about those poor crewmen who maintain the nascelles, in among the radiation? Don't they get suits? In the TV shows, it seems they don't.
I was always under the impression that they just don't go into the nacelles while they are in operation. Engineering isn't in the nacelles, it's in the lower cylindrical part of the ship.

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Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
Galactica also gets honorable mention for showing their fighters moving via real physics (small maneuvering thrusters) instead of needlessly (and impossibly) rolling & banking like atmospheric craft (both Wars & Trek do this with impunity!)
Earthforce Starfury fighters in Babylon 5 also were shown using maneuvering thrusters instead of banking. And Earth vessels & Babylon 5 itself used centrifugal force to simulate gravity.
#5
Old 02-12-2012, 08:14 PM
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The human ships in the Halo universe do a pretty good job. Yes, they have artificial gravity and faster-than-light drives, but they don't have energy shields, relying instead on heavy armor, and they use nuclear missiles and enormous railguns instead of energy weapons. Also, they aren't even remotely streamlined, because there's no reason to be.
#6
Old 02-12-2012, 08:19 PM
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Its not nearly realistic as it is bio-mechanical, sentient, and reproduces by live birth(cooler in execution than it sounds) but the approach Moya from Farscape has to combat is one I find realistic.

RUN, HIDE, STARBURST!(a kind of FTL jump). Combat are you crazy?
#7
Old 02-12-2012, 08:39 PM
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Der Trihs is right about engineering and the ships of Star Trek were like the large Ocean going vessels of the age of sail. Even the "5 year mission" was more like the English Navy of the 1700 & 1800s.
#8
Old 02-12-2012, 09:10 PM
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How in the hell have we made it 7 posts in and no one has mentioned the grandfather and grandmaster of realistic spaceship design: 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I present the nuclear powered Discover 1 . It emits no sounds audible from the outside (as one would expect in space), has no visible exhaust, travels at realistic speeds, and abides by the laws of physics when it comes to maneuvering. It also features an internal centrifuge that creates artificial gravity, but only for a specific area of the ship.

And of course, this is just one of several practical spaceships featured in the movie, again showing why 2001: A Space Odyssey is almost more science-fact than science-fiction.

Last edited by Red Barchetta; 02-12-2012 at 09:11 PM.
#9
Old 02-12-2012, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Barchetta View Post
How in the hell have we made it 7 posts in and no one has mentioned the grandfather and grandmaster of realistic spaceship design: 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I present the nuclear powered Discover 1 . It emits no sounds audible from the outside (as one would expect in space), has no visible exhaust, travels at realistic speeds, and abides by the laws of physics when it comes to maneuvering. It also features an internal centrifuge that creates artificial gravity, but only for a specific area of the ship.

And of course, this is just one of several practical spaceships featured in the movie, again showing why 2001: A Space Odyssey is almost more science-fact than science-fiction.
Red. I think post three. last line mentioned that.

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#10
Old 02-12-2012, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Declan View Post
Red. I think post three. last line mentioned that.

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So he did. Well, it deserves to be mentioned more than once anyway
#11
Old 02-12-2012, 09:19 PM
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The Enterprise has always bugged me with the long spindles for the nacels. Engineering nightmare. Oh, and don't tell me how they use force fields to overcome that. They use forcefields for windows in one of the movies too. Give me a break. "You know, it would be terribly inconvenient to put actual windows in this craft. Let's just throw a couple of terawatts at the problem."
#12
Old 02-12-2012, 09:20 PM
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I'd nominate

The eagle from space 1999 with the exception of landing on planetary surfaces

the interceptor from UFO

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#13
Old 02-12-2012, 09:22 PM
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nm

Last edited by astro; 02-12-2012 at 09:23 PM.
#14
Old 02-12-2012, 09:24 PM
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The bridges on the many Trek starships are usually in suboptimal places-bad enough that the Federation put it on top of the saucer section (where it is deeply vulnerable to damage), instead of in the middle (and thus protected by many decks), but the Klingons stuck theirs at the end of a long spindle at the front of the vessel, where it merely has to be decapitated from the rest of the ship to become instantly irrelevant.

I believe there is a race in Star Fleet Battles which uses spheres-unspectacular but optimal.

Last edited by John DiFool; 02-12-2012 at 09:25 PM.
#15
Old 02-12-2012, 09:30 PM
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Another little detail I liked about the ships in the new Galactica: There's one scene where we see a fighter landing in one of Pegasus' bays, upside-down relative to what we'd seen before. If you've got artificial gravity, then there's no reason not to have it pointing in different directions in different parts of the ship, if that will let you make more efficient use of space.
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#16
Old 02-12-2012, 09:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
The Enterprise has always bugged me with the long spindles for the nacels. Engineering nightmare. Oh, and don't tell me how they use force fields to overcome that. They use forcefields for windows in one of the movies too. Give me a break. "You know, it would be terribly inconvenient to put actual windows in this craft. Let's just throw a couple of terawatts at the problem."
I always assumed the thin sections connecting the Enterprise was so they could use explosives to blow them in an emergency. They do this in one episode of TNG(blow the saucer section free) And I think in Enterprise too? (the saucer and engines seperate).

Yes it is crazy to waste that much power and have no backup, I think we were supposed to read that as they have so much essentially "free" energy they are wasting it basically, and the ships are so reliable they trust forcefield windows.
How many people do you know that have all their vital emails on a webmail server somewhere, that could dissapear at any moment! But its so reliable no one cares.
#17
Old 02-12-2012, 09:34 PM
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Didn't someone from with real credentials say that the Firefly class of ship from Firefly/Serenity would actually appear to be flight worthy?

[URL="http://videos.howstuffworks.com/science-channel/45262-firefly-spaceship-flight-mechanics-video.htm"]Crew Member[/URL

I can't find the link I was looking for, just this one...
#18
Old 02-12-2012, 09:39 PM
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I always liked the Enterprise because it didn't look like it was a rocket or disc or battleship or airplane. That made it seem realistic because it appeared to be purpose-built for space travel.
#19
Old 02-12-2012, 09:49 PM
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it's a disc with two rockets attached.
#20
Old 02-12-2012, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I always liked the Enterprise because it didn't look like it was a rocket or disc or battleship or airplane. That made it seem realistic because it appeared to be purpose-built for space travel.
Actually it looked purposely built for peaceful space travel. While it is armed, nothing about that class of ship or the follow ons, scream warship.

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#21
Old 02-12-2012, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
The Enterprise has always bugged me with the long spindles for the nacels. Engineering nightmare. Oh, and don't tell me how they use force fields to overcome that. They use forcefields for windows in one of the movies too. Give me a break. "You know, it would be terribly inconvenient to put actual windows in this craft. Let's just throw a couple of terawatts at the problem."
I actually thought that was "realistic", in the sense used by the OP. If most of the strength of your ship comes from force fields then structural strength is at best a secondary consideration when designing your ship. That just made me think of the Martians from the webcomic A Miracle of Science; they use "vector fields" to hold their ships together, and as a result their ships and other machines often aren't even a single object; they are multiple components held close to each other by the vector fields.

Also, given how common nacelles-sticking-out designs like that are among various Trek races, I always figured there was some major advantage in doing so, probably related to however the warp drive works.
#22
Old 02-12-2012, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimera View Post
The Enterprise has always bugged me with the long spindles for the nacels. Engineering nightmare. Oh, and don't tell me how they use force fields to overcome that.
I liked that. I think you mean that it would be an engineering nightmare because the thin spindles need to hold up the large naceles. But the Enterprise is built in space and can't land, it never has to hold itself together under gravity. Building the supports thick enough to hold up the weight of the nacels would be pointless.

Compare the ISS, which is also a bunch of large heavy bits connected by relatively thin attachment points.
#23
Old 02-12-2012, 11:09 PM
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Other than the FTL and artificial gravity the ships (well at least the Colonial ones) in BSG seemed pretty realistic. I always liked how the Galactica basically had no windows, except for that one loung we saw once in a single episode. Which makes alot of sense. They even implied that artificial gravity was a relatively recent invention (at least on civilian ships). It's a shame the budget never allowed an episode set on that ring ship.
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#24
Old 02-12-2012, 11:15 PM
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I would say the spaceships from Avatar if you are willing to accept antimatter for propulsion.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/01/spa...avatar-is.html

http://enjoyspace.com/en/editori...s-venture-star
#25
Old 02-12-2012, 11:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malden Capell View Post
Finally, what about fighters and other small craft? Star Trek seems to be a universe akin to pre-aircraft carrier battleships; something like Space: Above and Beyond or Star Wars however seemed like aircraft carriers in space.
Small craft would be useful if they can carry weapons powerful enough to destroy large ships, and are maneuverable enough to evade weapons on those large ships. The latter probably isn't true in the Star Trek universe - phasers can target small craft fairly effectively. This seems realistic - if you assume beamed energy weapons (which presumably propagate at c), it's logical that maneuverability is not an effective defense. So you build big ships with powerful shields, not small fighters.

As for the nacelles - I always thought their purpose was to create a warp field that encircled the whole ship. Their placement and lengths are probably dictated by the properties of the warp field, just like as the length and shape of radio antennas are dictated by properties of the electromagnetic field.

Last edited by scr4; 02-12-2012 at 11:38 PM.
#26
Old 02-12-2012, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
Earthforce Starfury fighters in Babylon 5 also were shown using maneuvering thrusters instead of banking.
Not only that, but it had the pilot lying down flat in the cockpit, perpendicular to the direction of thrust from the main thrusters. Which seems logical (best way to withstand acceleration).
#27
Old 02-12-2012, 11:45 PM
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UFO's lunar interceptor. Nothing else comes close in terms of raw, practical realism.

In action

Last edited by astro; 02-12-2012 at 11:48 PM.
#28
Old 02-12-2012, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaboi867 View Post
Other than the FTL and artificial gravity the ships (well at least the Colonial ones) in BSG seemed pretty realistic. I always liked how the Galactica basically had no windows, except for that one loung we saw once in a single episode.
If you think about it, Galactica's CIC was extremely realistic and logical; it's consistent with how large warships work today, because it's how a large warship would work. There's no reason to have windows. The logical way of arranging the command center of a big warship is to have a central planning area for the captain with all the people he needs immediately around him.

The bridge of Enterprise, by comparison, doesn't make any sense whatsoever. The wasted space is ridiculous, and the captain is separated from almost everyone; the people closest to him have no specific job on the bridge, and everyone's looking at a big screen that might or might not have relevance to what THEY need to know.
#29
Old 02-13-2012, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by JoelUpchurch View Post
I would say the spaceships from Avatar if you are willing to accept antimatter for propulsion.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/01/spa...avatar-is.html

http://enjoyspace.com/en/editori...s-venture-star
I think the problem with the Venture Star is that it gets so little time on screen. Cool links, by the way, I especially liked the second one.
#30
Old 02-13-2012, 12:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
Also, given how common nacelles-sticking-out designs like that are among various Trek races, I always figured there was some major advantage in doing so, probably related to however the warp drive works.
Yes, the various technical manuals have sections on warp fields, and the dual-nacelle setup is, while not strictly necessary, the best way to get a proper warp field, due to field geometry and physical mass of the ships, relative to the field. (Unfortunately, some of the information from the tech manuals got contradicted by All Good Things... when the future Enterprise in it had 3 nacelles - which is specifically stated in the tech manuals as an unstable setup.)

Last edited by Kamino Neko; 02-13-2012 at 12:07 AM.
#31
Old 02-13-2012, 12:17 AM
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I like the Art Deco style 1930's spaceships ("Flash Gordon"). Exposed rivets, phallic noses, and clunky controls are neat. And the sound-like an old radio out of tune.
Woldn't an interstelar ship be a sphere? No need for aerodynamics in space.
#32
Old 02-13-2012, 12:26 AM
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Woldn't an interstelar ship be a sphere? No need for aerodynamics in space.
The crew quarters would probably be a sphere, as would the fuel tanks, to get the most volume per skin area (skin is mass, after all). But it would probably make sense to have a long truss of some sort between the engines and the crew compartment, since whatever your engines run on is probably radioactive.

For a warship, it would make sense to make the whole thing spherical, with partitions inside for crew, fuel, equipment, etc. A warship's skin should be armor, which makes the weight of it that much more critical.
#33
Old 02-13-2012, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The crew quarters would probably be a sphere, as would the fuel tanks, to get the most volume per skin area (skin is mass, after all). But it would probably make sense to have a long truss of some sort between the engines and the crew compartment, since whatever your engines run on is probably radioactive.

For a warship, it would make sense to make the whole thing spherical, with partitions inside for crew, fuel, equipment, etc. A warship's skin should be armor, which makes the weight of it that much more critical.
Well, if you don't have artificial gravity then you might want a rotating ring and not a sphere. Or when you add the drive, you get the classic ring around a cylinder design. As for armor, that depends - armor quite possibly simply wouldn't be useful enough to be practical given the energies involved in ship-to-ship combat. You'd just be adding useless mass to the ship.

Of course that could change with the right sci-fi technology. I recall the Prince Roger/Empire of Man series, which had an FTL drive that ignored mass, and a normal space drive that was affected by mass. They had "carriers" which were basically hybrids of real world carriers and battleships; armored heavily enough to be nuke-resistant, heavily armed, and carrying smaller, much less well armored (but much more mobile in-system) ships from system to system.
#34
Old 02-13-2012, 12:50 AM
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The Borg Cube, because it's a cube. It's a boring design, but in space, every dedicated spacecraft should be cubes. Aerodynamics is for when there's air.
#35
Old 02-13-2012, 01:31 AM
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Originally Posted by drastic_quench View Post
The Borg Cube, because it's a cube. It's a boring design, but in space, every dedicated spacecraft should be cubes. Aerodynamics is for when there's air.
as mentioned above, a sphere makes much more sense. max volume per surface area and structurally strongest shape.
#36
Old 02-13-2012, 01:37 AM
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Or a ring (or two or more separate pods on tethers) for simulated gravity. Or if your main concern is avoiding hitting some bit of debris or hiding behind a shield, a long thin cylinder.

Last edited by Der Trihs; 02-13-2012 at 01:38 AM.
#37
Old 02-13-2012, 01:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
Or a ring (or two or more separate pods on tethers) for simulated gravity. Or if your main concern is avoiding hitting some bit of debris or hiding behind a shield, a long thin cylinder.
its possible to spin a sphere around one axis and put the living / sleeping quarters at 1 G in a ring around the "equator" and then you'd have floors with decreasing gravity and a zero g dock in the center. It would make a lot of sense to have everything going in dock at the zero g not rotating center. You can unload and load bulk provisions with no gravity, then they "fall" down to the high gravity areas down ramps and you eject waste from an outlet on the outer skin equator, the rotational angular momentum would fling it away from the ship.

any ring would need to have a central docking mechanism anyway.
#38
Old 02-13-2012, 03:48 AM
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I love some of the other ships mentioned (BSG esp.), but I think personally, based on the OP's criteria (i.e non-technically) the Firefly Serenity is tops, with the Star Wars Millenium Falcon as second. Both seem lived-in, in a way that e.g the Enterprise just isn't. I esp. love the foldaway toilet on Serenity, the kitchen/dining room-as-living area, and the fact that you can see how it would work as a cargo ship (something I don't really "see" for the Falcon, BTW, and I say this as someone who owns the minifig-scale Lego Falcon ).
#39
Old 02-13-2012, 04:34 AM
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Imagine a rotating ring inside a nonrotating sphere.
You have your supplies, especially water in the outer sphere. The inner hub is where your people live.

Your drive is integrated into the outer sphere.
The bridge is buried deep in the inner core.
It is weightless there, but that is acceptable for short periods of time.
The bridge is spherical. All stations are able to be switched from various functions to others. So there might be an accustomed weapons station or science station, but with the proper command sequence each station could be repurposed. These stations would be specially shielded from incoming energy assaults. That would obviate the incredibly incredible helmsman at controls getting severe damage to his hands syndrome That is the worst thing about Star Trek that I can think of.

So, where is the Captain in this? Sitting in the center of the sphere. With all of the various displays floating in her view she can choose to select some of then (environmental, sick bay status, this week's music selection, ...) to be background, but still there is the information from tactical, weapons, defense that she will need to see. So I posit a three dimensional array projected in her field of view. From those data streams, she can then plan the mission much more effectively. Yes, she will ask her other officers their opinions, but at least they won't be spending time trying to describe visual and complex ideas in a bunch of pseudoscientific crap. Exposition can happen, but it will be driven by the plot, not some McGuffin nonsense.

The floating from station to station at shift change might be fun to watch. The bridge would obviously need to have stantions in place to aid the movements of the various crew members. A scene where we watch the change from alpha crew to beta crew would be interesting. "You have the bridge, number three". heh heh heh

Last edited by Gagundathar; 02-13-2012 at 04:36 AM.
#40
Old 02-13-2012, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
I love some of the other ships mentioned (BSG esp.), but I think personally, based on the OP's criteria (i.e non-technically) the Firefly Serenity is tops, with the Star Wars Millenium Falcon as second. Both seem lived-in, in a way that e.g the Enterprise just isn't. I esp. love the foldaway toilet on Serenity, the kitchen/dining room-as-living area, and the fact that you can see how it would work as a cargo ship (something I don't really "see" for the Falcon, BTW, and I say this as someone who owns the minifig-scale Lego Falcon ).
I don't think the Falcon is a cargo ship, its a passenger ship. And while Han uses it to haul "cargo" its only because the cargo he is hauling is only a couple of kilos

Ditto for the Serenity, in one of the early episodes where they find that ship that has been raided by the Reavers you can see how big and open a real cargo hauler is.
#41
Old 02-13-2012, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by grude View Post
I don't think the Falcon is a cargo ship, its a passenger ship.
It's stock type is a YT-1300f light freighter. My understanding has always been that the "Special modifications" were in the area of engine capacity and smuggler hidey-holes, but the basic layout is still that of a light cargo vessel (25-100 tons). If it were a passenger ship, it would be laid out in the YT-1300p configuration, but it's not.
Quote:
Ditto for the Serenity, in one of the early episodes where they find that ship that has been raided by the Reavers you can see how big and open a real cargo hauler is.
That was a colony ship. But I didn't mean the Firefly class was some sort of equivalent of a bulk Cargo ship (that's the Nostromo.) Serenity is a "Multipurpose, Mid-Bulk Transport" - the cargo hold is clearly the largest feature in her design (payload is listed as ~ 80 tons) and she's designed for easy access to the hold for loading.

Last edited by MrDibble; 02-13-2012 at 05:56 AM.
#42
Old 02-13-2012, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by coremelt View Post
as mentioned above, a sphere makes much more sense. max volume per surface area and structurally strongest shape.
Correction - a sphere makes much more sense when you're trying to contain heat or pressure. It makes no sense to have a big unpressurized ship that is shaped like a sphere, it makes no sense to have your machinery in pressurized/heated areas, it makes no sense for all your habitable areas to be in a single sphere that could be compromised.

Probably the best arrangement would look something like an unfinished Death Star, arranged differently. You'd have equitorial/polar structural rings where you'd mount weapons, sensors, maneuvering, and docking apparatus. Possibly supporting an exterior layer of radiation/kinetic shielding here. Mounted along the internal supports would be the power plants, life support systems, etc.

Surrounding those, in pods like grape clusters, would be where you'd find the spheres. These would be partially for human habitation, but they'd also help insulate the internal systems against damage. The battle bridge would cover no more than half the habitation modules. In case of danger you would just rotate it to the side facing away from the threat (assuming such a favorable rotation exists). The hab pods would absorb all the damage first, and everybody would just have to sleep in the bridge until repairs could be done.

So in summary, yeah, overall the ship should have a round-ish plan, but nothing needs to be strictly spherical except the 3-5 meter pods where the perishables live.
#43
Old 02-13-2012, 06:26 AM
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I must speak up for the interior of the Dark Star, in that it was a total shithole with crap strewn all over the place, and looked like it stank, just like it would be likely to be with four three guys living in it bored out of their minds for years on end.
#44
Old 02-13-2012, 07:43 AM
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The Discovery in 2001 does seem a probable design, and it's notable that it very closely reswembles the ship in his much earlier story Breaking Strain


Robert Heinlein's ship in Rocket Ship Galileo still seems reasonable to me -- a chemical rocket built for point-to-point transfer on the Earth (much like a comercial jet that hopped through space) retrofitted with an atomic engine (a reactor that heats its reaction mass -- in this case zinc -- to high-energy vapor). It's not the most efficient ship, but it is sup;posed to be what a small operation could build with existing materials (assuming the existence of a thriving rocket-ship transport system).


When they turned it imnto a film (with a lot of changes in the plot), the ship became a built-from-scratrch-by-industry ship, but still with the same basic atomic engine. Heinlin wrote long and lovingly about the back and forth involved in building a control room that could both seem practical and reasonable and could also be filmed, in his essay Filming Destination Moon, which has been anthologized more than once.
#45
Old 02-13-2012, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Barchetta View Post
How in the hell have we made it 7 posts in and no one has mentioned the grandfather and grandmaster of realistic spaceship design: 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I present the nuclear powered Discover 1 . It emits no sounds audible from the outside (as one would expect in space), has no visible exhaust, travels at realistic speeds, and abides by the laws of physics when it comes to maneuvering. It also features an internal centrifuge that creates artificial gravity, but only for a specific area of the ship.

And of course, this is just one of several practical spaceships featured in the movie, again showing why 2001: A Space Odyssey is almost more science-fact than science-fiction.
Except for HAL.
#46
Old 02-13-2012, 08:15 AM
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What no mention of The Ark from Starlost? No hand waving of the speed of light. Just a big sub light speed ship.
#47
Old 02-13-2012, 08:54 AM
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Some of the Alliance ships in Firefly were basically flying cities/skyscrapers, which I thought was a neat idea. The biggest disadvantage, though, is if you are at the top of one tower and have to go to the top of another...all the way down, over, then all the way back up. Inefficient. But cool looking.
#48
Old 02-13-2012, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
What no mention of The Ark from Starlost? No hand waving of the speed of light. Just a big sub light speed ship.
With artificial gravity.

So far, it's Heinlein, followed by 2001's Discovery.
#49
Old 02-13-2012, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
The crew quarters would probably be a sphere, as would the fuel tanks, to get the most volume per skin area (skin is mass, after all). But it would probably make sense to have a long truss of some sort between the engines and the crew compartment, since whatever your engines run on is probably radioactive.

For a warship, it would make sense to make the whole thing spherical, with partitions inside for crew, fuel, equipment, etc. A warship's skin should be armor, which makes the weight of it that much more critical.
Neal Stephenson's Anathem might be relevant:

SPOILER:
The Daban Urnud from Neal Stephenson's Anathem uses multiple spheres inside a larger structure that is an icosahedron (looks like a 20-side die). The propulsion is explained generally in the book but without a lot of detail.

http://anathem.wikia.com/wiki/Daban_Urnud (site has more spoilers)

Last edited by theR; 02-13-2012 at 12:17 PM. Reason: added spoiler tags just in case
#50
Old 02-13-2012, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malden Capell View Post
And what about those poor crewmen who maintain the nascelles, in among the radiation? Don't they get suits? In the TV shows, it seems they don't.
The crewmen you see are in main engineering, not in the nacelles.

There were times when people had to suit up to climb into the Jeffries tubes, which connect the nacelles to the secondary hull.[/QUOTE]

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
It's stock type is a YT-1300f light freighter. My understanding has always been that the "Special modifications" were in the area of engine capacity and smuggler hidey-holes, but the basic layout is still that of a light cargo vessel (25-100 tons). If it were a passenger ship, it would be laid out in the YT-1300p configuration, but it's not.
It looks like to get stuff into the holds you usually have to go through another room, like engineering. Why isn't there direct access into the holds?
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