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Roddenberry's/Jeffries' "Rules" of Star Trek ship design

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Kilroy    0

So apparently Gene Roddenberry and Matt Jeffries, when developing the design of the original Enterprise, had some very definite rules about starship designs for the show. (I'm setting aside the fact that in all but a few notable cases, TOS starships tended to follow the "abstract blob of flashing lights" aesthetic.)


Here are a few as best I can articulate them:


1. Even numbered warp nacelles only


2. Nothing between the warp nacelles


Those are actually the only ones I'm thinking of (please remind me of more of them, if you know). But why am I bringing this up?


Because it suggests to me how the engines are intended to work (within the ficton, of course.)


If you notice on the TOS Enterprise nacelles, there are the usual "vents" and/or "grilles" that we see on later Starfleet ships, too. On the TOS version, they appear only on the inboard side of a nacelle, whereas on the TMP refit they appear on both sides. On the TMP refit, however, we see the inboard grilles glow for the first time -- but only faintly, and only as the ship jumps into warp.


So why have the grilles on the TOS nacelles be inboard-facing only, and why have the space between them empty?


I think that a combination of ideas explain this. The grilles facing each other is part of how the drive was meant to work. The field generated by each individual nacelle collides with the field generated by the other in order to form the warp bubble.


Have the grilles face outboard and they don't collide against anything -- it's wasted power. Same with a single nacelle, or a third nacelle. And thus also the reason you don't have anything between the nacelles -- not only could you perhaps not form a warp bubble, but the shearing of space in that spot would tear anything that's there atom from atom.


I'll have to remind myself to do a separate post on why the Star Trek design aesthetic from 1987 onward has been to make Absolutely. EVERYTHING. glow neon blue as if every Starfleet ship launched from the 24th century onward has been a flying radiological disaster.

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Khas    12,133

There is ONE exception to the "even-numbered nacelle".  The Galaxy X-class, as seen in "The Best of Both Worlds".




Though, we COULD say that the middle nacelle creates a third warp field to better link the ones made by the other two.

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Kilroy    0

Right, very true. But my musings were on the reasons for the way the Jeffries designs were set up, from the TOS E to the Phase II E (which only underwent very minor cosmetic revisions to become the TMP E).


Spot on about the All Good Things 1701-D, though, and you're right -- most of the ships we see with more than 2 nacelles (such as the Constellation class in TNG and the Prometheus class in VOY) have 4.

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Commander RayCav    12,015

I have a theory behind the third warp nacelle I was thinking of while watching Disco, even though no three-nacelled ships show up there (although a few four-nacelled ones do, mostly in the background - mostly I was thinking of the war circumstances and how Starfleet would probably start designing and building Federation-class dreads).

The middle nacelle mostly stays redundant and deactivated under normal conditions, but is activated and forms an emergency warp field with the survivor of the other two if the other one receives battle damage and is no longer functional. 

This would explain why the "most canon" examples we've seen of three-nacelled ships are the Alt-Enterprise D (which effectively has been upgraded to a dreadnought) and the Federation class dreadnought. These are the most battleship-like vessels we've ever seen the Federation construct, and they'd be the ones most designed around battle-hardened redundancies.

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