On @ The 90: Build the Enterprise—Seriously?

So, the United States can't even get astronauts into low-Earth-orbit and there is a petition to have the U.S. build a starship? Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / Jason Rhian

So, the United States can’t even get astronauts into low-Earth orbit, and there is a petition to have the U.S. build a starship? Photo Credit: AmericaSpace / Jason Rhian

The United States has barely regained the ability to send unmanned cargo to the International Space Station via SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and a petition has been started to have the United States build a starship—no, we are not kidding. Entitled Build The Enterprise, or “BTE,” the website-based petition is working to have the White House build a spacecraft with capabilities similar to those of the vessel that Captain Kirk and company used to conduct their “five-year mission” in the television and movie franchise “Star Trek.”

The website details how to build such a vessel over the course of the next two decades. However, given the state of ever-pervasive financial issues that the United States is currently in, and the fact that NASA currently lacks even the ability to launch astronauts to low-Earth orbit, the proposal is not founded on reality, but rather emotion.

Given the fact that sixteen different nations have only barely been able to construct a space station the size of a football field (the International Space Station) the fact that BTE is suggesting the U.S. should build a 3,120 foot long starship is simply unrealistic. Image Credit: Build The Enterprise.

Given that 16 different nations have only barely been able to construct a space station the size of a football field (the International Space Station), the fact that BTE is suggesting the U.S. should build a 3,120-foot-long starship is simply unrealistic. Image Credit: Build The Enterprise.

The website lacks the most basic understanding revolving around space flight and space history. In the section entitled “Our Space Problem,” a line appears to relegate the Apollo Program to a single lunar landing, stating that the United States has lost its way since the Moon landing of 1969. The Moon landings comprised six separate landings that stretched from 1969 through 1972.

BTE boasts that its Enterprise could get to Mars in 90 days and to the Moon in three. This is not too impressive when you consider the fact that the Apollo crews traveled to the Moon in the same length of time—in the 1960s—and that the VASIMR engine being developed by former NASA astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz has been estimated at traveling to Mars in around 40 days.

This image appears on the website for Build The Enterprise and highlights the scale of the proposed spacecraft - against landmarks and sea-going vessels. Image Credit: Build The Enterprise

This image appears on the website for Build The Enterprise and highlights the scale of the proposed spacecraft against landmarks and sea-going vessels. Image Credit: Build The Enterprise

The site’s author goes on to describe both the Skylab and International Space Station (ISS) as “yawners.” This juvenile language fills the website and further detracts from its credibility.

If those proposing BTE had looked into the basic facts and difficulty involved with constructing the ISS, which is about the size of a football field, they would quickly realize how constructing a spaceship that is more than 3,000 feet long is ludicrous. It took the efforts of sixteen different member nations on the International Space Station project nearly 13 years to build the station, so thinking that the U.S. can construct such a craft by itself in 20 years is just not based in reality.

Star Trek and NASA enjoy a reciprocal relationship where what one portrays inspires the other and where ideas displayed are eventually made into reality. However, the various requirements to build a spacecraft such as the U.S.S. Enterprise do not exist and won't for some time. Photo Credit NASA Ames Research

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