We live in a technological society that many say was inspired by the classic show "Star Trek." Cell phones, tablet computers, portable data storage, medical scanners, computers that can talk ... you name it, and "Star Trek" has addressed it one way or the other.
Yet none of those devices really scream Star Trek. In fact, the Gene Roddenberry show was not always the first to introduce such concepts. But there could be a space vehicle created in the next 20 years that will no doubt be directly influenced by Star Trek -- because it would look exactly like the USS Enterprise.
A self-proclaimed engineer who wants to only be known as "BTE-Dan" is telling visitors to his website that not only could the USS Enterprise be possible the way Matt Jefferies designed it, but it could happen in the next two decades.
Sure, it won't have warp drive, transporters and cost a few hundred billion dollars to build (no wonder they have no money in the future), but it could be the kind of transport that could convince regular commercial travel to nearby planetary bodies like the Moon or even Mars.
The ship would be powered by nuclear reactors, propelled by argon mined from Mars' atmosphere. It could make it to the moon in three days, and Mars in 90, and create a society (at least for 1,000 people) who are total space-faring.
But is such a ship really possible? The astronomy website Space.com explored that very thing, and turned up some interesting results.
Although Space explored some of the more science-fiction elements of the ship, like warp drive and transporters, the biggest issue hampering a near-future Enterprise (besides the cost) could be its proposed propulsion. A lot of that has to do with international treaties on the use of nuclear energy, which would stifle such use in an actual Enterprise.
Plus, such generators would not really fit in the nacelles of the Enterprise anyway.
"Engineering physics doesn't respect our aesthetics," Adam Crowl, an engineer with Icarus Interstellar Inc., told Space.com. He added that the thermal radiators needed for such propulsion alone would destroy the look of the Enterprise.
On top of that, there seems to be much more practical vehicles that could be constructed to transport people in space.
"I would love to see 1,000 people go to Mars, but I need convincing that they need to be on the Enterprise to do so," Crowl said.
Yet, while there might be some public uneasiness about firing nuclear rockets in space, possible alternatives are not far off.
"In terms of propulsion technology, fusion engines are potentially within a generation or two," said Richard Obousy, co-founder and president of Icarus Interstellar.
Could we see a real-life Enterprise in our lifetime? Doubtful. But the idea that we're a lot closer than we realize is something to ponder.
To see what else the Space.com experts have to say, check out their full story.
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