The 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.


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.The Gen1 USS Enterprise is a huge ship. At .6 miles in length it’s bigger than any craft or building ever constructed.  It’s nearly three times as long as the largest US aircraft carrier, and its length is greater than the tallest building in the world.Why is it so big? First, it must house a gravity wheel that is large enough in diameter so that people are comfortable inside of it and the behavior of gravity to them seems reasonably earthlike.
Second, the Enterprise is a combination of spaceship, space station, and spaceport. This means it must support having many people on board at once – up to a thousand at any given time. It must be able to dock and refuel multiple smaller spacecrafts at the same time. And the huge cargo-carrying capacity is critical for hauling probes, landers, and base-building equipment to Mars and elsewhere. Simply put, if we want to get serious about establishing a permanent human presence in space, with robust and sustainable capabilities to do big things up there, we need a big ship.

The Universal Lander can depart from the Enterprise and land on the Earth, the moon, or Mars – but it can also launch from the Earth, the moon, or Mars and return to the Enterprise. More broadly, the idea of the Universal Lander is to create a super-robust spacecraft that can fly and land anywhere in our solar system that is hospitable to human visitors.The Universal Lander is a SSTO (Single Stage to Orbit) type spacecraft.

This means that it can launch from the Earth, the moon, or Mars with only the rockets and fuel within the craft. Thus there are no add-on external fuel tanks or boosters that are jettisoned during a launch of the Universal Lander like has long been a familiar sight when watching launches of spacecrafts carrying humans.

An example of an SSTO was the X-33 spacecraft (shown in the image) that was canceled by NASA in 2003 just before flight testing was to begin. There are also many other SSTO crafts being investigated today (like the Skylon), although funding is very low.



In vehicle or ship design – whether it’s the design of a car, truck, aircraft carrier, cruise ship, or spaceship – form should follow function. The same is true in the design of buildings on earth. In fact, form follows function is a guiding principle in modern architectural design. It makes sense that form follows function when designing a building, vehicle, or ship because then the resulting human-made creation is maximally useful to people. When form follows function, the building, vehicle, or ship achieves the optimal operational performance possible for its purpose at the lowest overall cost.


So it follows for the Gen1 Enterprise that its form should follow its function. To determine if the Enterprise’s form is appropriate for Earth’s first space supership, we must first clearly define the ship’s function. And since the Enterprise has many functions, a ranked list of these functions is needed.

In ranked order of importance, the Gen1 Enterprise’s top eight functions are:

  • Inspire people around the world about the adventure of humans going into space in a big way.
  • Serve as a space station & spaceport with 1g artificial gravity to support large-scale space tourism and to encourage substantial private sector investments in space infrastructure.
  • Take the first humans to Mars.
  • Enable the construction of a large, permanent base on Mars.
  • Visit an asteroid, do experimental mining of it, and do tests to divert its movement.
  • Construct a large, permanent base on the moon.
  • Serve as a roving space station to support diverse scientific experiments and space projects.
  • Go on other interplanetary missions, like to Venus and to Jupiter’s moons.


However, it should b acknowledged that for functions 3-8 that the Enterprise is not the most functional form for a ship. If NASA was designing a ship where the functional requirements for it were only driven by functions 3-8, it would surely not look like the Enterprise. But, again, the form of Earth’s first supership should not primarily be based on functions 3-8, it should be primarily based on functions 1-2

The ship’s form just has to adequately service the operational requirements for functions 3-8 and give a safe ship for those on board. It doesn’t matter if the Enterprise is not the perfect form for a ship going on interplanetary missions – it only has to be good enough.

A spaceship in the form of the Gen1 Enterprise will act like a giant magnet in the sky when orbiting the Earth – a magnet that is constantly pulling people and businesses from around the world up toward the heavens. The building of the first USS Enterprise will inspire people on Earth like no other project before it. Indeed, we can all watch in awe as the Eighth Wonder of the World unfolds above us.

The Enterprise has four hulls: the saucer hull, the main engine hull, and the two aux engine hulls as shown above.From the outside of the ship to any point on the interior of the ship at least three walls will be found for abiding by the design philosophy of triple redundancy for all key systems. The first wall, the outermost wall, creates the exterior surface of the ship.  This is made of aluminum because aluminum is a proven material for handling the extreme temperature variations that the ship’s exterior surface must tolerate as the ship moves about in space.


The inner walls of the ship will be made of composite materials because they are lighter, stronger, and provide better shielding from radiation. These inner walls can also withstand the extreme temperature cycling that occurs in space, but perhaps not for years and years like aluminum can. But the composite walls can tolerate the temperature extremes for awhile as might be needed in case the aluminum exterior is ever damaged such as during a meteor strike or collision of some type. The inner walls then can take over the function of the outer aluminum wall until the aluminum can be repaired.


Except for the donut-shaped cavity in the saucer hull that houses the gravity wheel, the standard wall plan used in all four hulls is shown to the right.The standard triple walls shown achieve 2.5 gram/cm2 of passive radiation shielding.  The large 8 foot gap between the outermost wall and the middle wall is to provide a space for workers working on either of these walls. Also, this space allows for future upgrades to the hulls. Perhaps in the future active shielding equipment will be installed in the 8 foot space. Ideally, a future upgrade could provide an active shielding system to protect the whole ship from radiation in space.


For inside of the pods in the gravity wheel, more shielding is used since people will spend much more time in these pods than in the lesser shielded gravityless places in other parts of the ship. For these pods, four walls exist from the outside of the ship to the inside of a pod. The outer two walls are for the donut-shaped stationary cavity in the saucer hull that houses the floating gravity wheel, and the two other walls are for the pod in the rotating gravity wheel.

These walls are collectively thicker than in other places of the ship to give more shielding but also to give them more mechanical strength to assure that the gravity wheel and the donut-shaped cavity are sturdy and will not come apart in the case of an emergency that somehow perturbs the normal operation of the gravity wheel. Shown below are the four walls. These walls collectively provide 6.25 gram/cm2 of shielding.


When going from the stationary saucer hull to the gravity wheel an elevator is needed. This is an unusual elevator in that it must start from being stationary and then begin moving in a circle around a track while following the rotating gravity wheel until it catches up. After catching up, and maintaining a speed of about 100 miles per hour, near 1g gravity takes hold inside the elevator. People can then move down an exit shaft in the elevator, through some airlocks, and into the upper ceiling area of a pod in the gravity wheel. From there, a conventional elevator like on earth can be ridden down to the floor of the pod.


The moving part of the elevator system is magnetically suspended to avoid the noise and wear that friction would cause if this moving mass instead rode directly on a circular rail.

The technology to suspend and move the gravity wheel can be leveraged and applied to the elevator.The elevator and magnetic track are inside the donut-shaped cavity that houses the gravity wheel in a vacuum.

This is necessary because the elevator must catch up to the moving gravity wheel and then attach to it for transferring people and cargo. This could not be done if the elevator was outside of the donut-shaped cavity that houses the gravity wheel. This also explains why, as mentioned above, that an airlock is needed for transferring people and cargo between the elevator and a gravity wheel pod. An airlock it needed to avoid exposure to the vacuum.


The Gen1 Enterprise will serve as a large spaceport for smaller spacecrafts. Three large, hinged, motorized doors will be located on the underside of the saucer haul. After a door swings open, a visiting spacecraft enters the Enterprise and then the door will close. Thus the doors provide entryways for visiting spacecrafts into the Enterprise’s saucer hull where they are then docked.Three doors are used to provide triple redundancy for safety and reliability.

 Inside the doors, hangars exist where the visiting spacecrafts can be maintained, refueled, and cargo can be loaded and unloaded. And of course visitors will come aboard and leave the Enterprise via the smaller spacecrafts that are coming in or leaving through the hinged doors in the saucer hull.Each door is approximately 250 feet by 250 feet. This will be more than large enough to accommodate a large spacecraft that may request to be docked. For reference, each door is larger than a 747 aircraft as can be seen by the diagram below. And each door is much bigger than a Space Shuttle which is also shown below.

It should be noted that while there are three doors for redundancy, they do not have to all be in active service during normal operation of the ship. Two doors, or even one door, should be adequate for handling traffic to and from the Enterprise. This allows the sections inside the Enterprise above the other doors to be normally used for purposes other than being a hangar for spacecrafts. This allows for more efficient use of the interior spaces of the ship and aviods wasting space. However, if an emergency ever arrived, and these unused doors need to be opened to accommodate spacecrafts, this can be done on relatively short notice.


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