Visions of Enterprise

This website proposes something truly inspiring. It is this: We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let’s do it. The ship can be similar in size and will have the same look as the USS Enterprise that we know from the Star Trek science fiction. It ends up that this ship configuration is quite functional. This first generation Enterprise can have 1g artificial gravity and ample living space. It can be as comfortable to live in as being on Earth. 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, it can travel at a constant acceleration such that the ship can easily get to key points of interest in our solar system.

The Enterprise would be three things in one: a spaceship, a space station, and a spaceport.  Finally we will have a permanent and viable foothold in space – a sustainable, roving village out in the heavens. Building the Enterprise will provide a giant leap forward for the human race when it comes to the task of establishing a permanent infrastructure in space, on the moon, and on Mars – an infrastructure needed to pull us farther out into space, the place we are surely destined to explore and live.

The Enterprise could get to Mars in ninety days; it could get to Earth’s moon in three. It could hop from planet to planet dropping off robotic probes of all sorts en masse – rovers, special-built planes, and satellites. It could use its extensive on-board sensors to map and explore planet surfaces and examine whatever it encounters in space, whether near or far away. It could drop a hydrobot on to Jupiter’s moon Europa after using its laser to bore a hole through the thick surface ice. The hydrobot will then drop through the hole in the  ice and descend until it reaches the water below – next beaming video images back to Earth so that we can watch as the hydrobot explores Europa’s vast, hidden ocean. It could hunt down asteroids that may threaten Earth and divert them long before we are in danger.

After the Enterprise enters the Mars orbit it can launch a Universal Lander to put the first humans on to the surface of Mars while carrying two backup landers just in case the crew encounters problems. On Earth we can all watch in awe as the first humans step on to another planet.

The Enterprise could carry huge loads of cargo to key places in our solar system. This will enable the establishment of permanent outposts beyond Earth. It could carry the structures, cargo, and laser-digging equipment needed for building large and comfortable underground bases on Mars and the moon where inhabitants would be fully shielded from cosmic rays. It could be used for hauling mined materials from asteroids, Mars, and the moon on an experimental basis. Some of these mined materials can be used to sustain the Enterprise itself. It can have its own on-board experimental manufacturing facilities to, for example, process some mined materials to create its own propellant.

When out of Earth’s orbit, such as when going to Mars, the crew aboard the Enterprise will be fully shielded from galactic cosmic rays and from the radiation generated by sudden and dangerous solar storms on our sun.

The main ion propulsion engine will be powered by a 1.5GW nuclear power system. 1g artificial gravity will be created by a .3 mile diameter rotating, magnetically-suspended gravity wheel inside the saucer-shaped main hull of the Enterprise. This large gravity wheel will give ample living space for the crew and visitors. And the ship’s spaceport doors can open to launch Universal Landers that can go to and from Earth, the moon, and Mars.  It becomes a ship right out of our futuristic dreams. Yet, strangely, it’s a dream we are fully capable of constructing in the real world provided that we set our minds to it.

Thousands of people will visit the Enterprise each year whenever the ship is in orbit around the Earth. It can serve as a space station and destination for eager space tourists – letting them see and explore the Enterprise firsthand as well as giving them a spectacular view of our marble-blue Earth and beyond. And to make it more accessible to the less affluent, every Congressional district will hold a lottery each year for those interested, and at least two citizens from each district can travel to the Enterprise after buying affordable tickets.

But – above all else – the Enterprise will inspire us. 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 program. 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.

And some of those inspired by this undertaking will surely be American young people – many of whom will likely become motivated to pursue careers as scientists and engineers. After all – we are building the first USS Enterprise!

A new Enterprise-class ship 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.  And one day – perhaps a century or so from now – a 4th or 5th or 6th generation ship will have the engines that will be able to maintain a constant 1g acceleration for the nine years needed to travel to Alpha Centuri, the nearest star to Earth. From there, when the human voyagers look back at our sun it will be just another star in the Milky Way galaxy. In time Enterprise-class ships will be able to visit more and more stars in the galaxy. Humanity will be on the way to the explorations that we are destined to pursue. And as we detect more and more planets in the habitable zones around stars we will more than likely discover other life in the universe besides that on our planet Earth. A future Enterprise can visit those places.

If you don’t think it’s possible over the next two decades to build the first USS Enterprise, given the national will and funding to do so, think again. This website will tell you how it can be done. The only obstacles to us doing it are the limitations we place on our collective imagination.

It’s a big universe out there. Let’s ratchet up our plans and technologies to explore it!