Monday, February 19, 2007

Starship Dangers In Space

Star Trek's TNG "Disaster" episode stardate 45156.1 marked an alarming encounter with a formidable celestial object for Captain Picards crew aboard the U.S.S Enterprise which reduced the ship to a defective, terminal hulk in galactic space. Two dangerous quantum filaments slammed into the Enterprise rendering many of the ship systems and the main computer inoperable.

The federation starship was now crippled and faced a crises situation. Counsellor Deanna Troi, Senior Starfleet Officer on bridge duty implemented Emergency Alpha 2 protocol thus disengaging all shipboard computer control and placing the ship systems on manual overdrive.

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So what are the consequences of dangerous space travel with the Enterprise's-D communications, engineering interfaces, weapons and defence, main viewing screen, main computer, navigation, sensor arrays, food replicators, turbo lifts, all internal doors, environmental controls, transporter machinery, auxiliary systems, outer hatch doors and escape pods offline?

Communications frequencies are vital for every starship, without the ability to send and receive through subspace, the Enterprise is cut off from the rest of the federation nor can it send out a mayday asking for help. Worf's Weapons and Defence Systems are crucial for launching a counter attack against a hostile force intent on taking over the ship.

The main viewing screen allows the bridge staff to navigate the ship safely and alerts the crew to any space perils not accounted for by the Enterprise's computer. Sensor arrays, science stations, environmental controls, turbo lifts, food replicators, navigation systems, internal doors all tie in with the main computer core.

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Starship interplanetary travel is often fraught with hazards so ships like the Enterprise NCC 1701-D are often armed to the teeth to protect themselves against dangerous natural phenomena and aggressive alien races. The main deflector and shields are an impressive field of science developed as a first line of defense for ship and crew.

Unfortunately quantum filaments which has subatomic properties, hundreds of meters long with almost no mass can penetrate the shields. Starfleet Officers gave their lives in the course of their duty and many other crew members were injured on stardate 45156.1 The bridge staff realized that once the antimatter containment field reached 14%, critical failure was on the way with a countdown of two hours for the Enterprise.

Hull ruptures are unnerving because this compromises the health and safety of the crew. Leaking air causes a loss of cabin pressure, loss of heat, loss of oxygen and with a compromised hull and no forcefield to keep out the vacuum of space, the Enterprise's structural integrity is at stake. Without air, trapped starfleet crew members will suffer from boiling blood, radiation poisoning, loss of consciousness and asphyxiation.

Temperatures aboard the ship depends on many things. Its location in space, condition of ship systems e.g. environmental control and the shields. The shields are all that stand between the life of the crew and the inhospitable void of space. Theoretically , if Captain Picard's crippled U.S.S. Enterprise is stranded too close to a star, the heat will boil up the crew and snuff them out. On the other hand stranded in the dark depts of space with no sunlight will just turn their ship into a freezing titanium nightmare.

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Another challenge for the hampered Enterprise crew involves food replicators and the need for water. Theoretically lets imagine the crew have patched the hull and environmental control has been restored. However the food replicators are still offline and the galley is burnt out.
Environmental Controls
Space is a very dry place. Planets like Mercury which is nearest to earth's sun is too hot for water, so the Enterprise is dependant on its technology and ships stores. Until the starship can navigate herself to the nearest starbase or raise help from one of the nearest United Federation of Planets she remains a frustrated hulk in galactic space.

Under normal circumstances the Enterprise-D can extinguish fires herself by creating a vacuum and eliminating all oxygen from the fires place of origin. However for an incapacitated Federation Galaxy Class Flagship this is highly unlikely. Uncontrolled fires are extremely life threatening aboard any kind of space vessel and its surprising how fast smoke can spread throughout a starship if swift action, forcefields and emergency procedures are not acted upon.

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Starfleet Officers are highly trained professionals with one weakness in common. Emotionalism. Except for Mr Spock and his home world of computer loving, minded vulcans of course. One of the greatest Klingon villains of all time, Commander Kruge has described earthlings as "human weaklings" a reputation earth's ball of beings have earned owing to our kind endeavours in space and emotional nature.

Still even spacewalks make Mr Worf our hero klingon (in Star Trek's First Contact,) sick to his stomach. Spacewalks are often necessary to carry out repairs and in the construction of starships. Intergalactic space really is an exciting and scary place.

Live Long and Prosper Trekkers! Enjoy Your Star Trekking.

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