Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

The Original Series

Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby Nutso » Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:44 pm

http://io9.com/top-10-biggest-design-fl ... +bubbaprog

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Note: This article mostly deals with the original Enterprise, from Star Trek: The Original Series. We do dip into the Enterprise-D, from The Next Generation, a few times. We consulted with a couple of Treksperts just to supplement our Trek knowledge.

10. Separate Phaser Firing Room

In the episode "Balance of Terror," we discover that there's a separate phaser firing room, where the crew sit around waiting for the order to fire phasers to come from the bridge. "Funny, I thought that's what that little red button was for," says Mark A Altman, the writer/producer of Free Enterprise and co-author of the upcoming oral history Star Trek: The Fifty Year Mission. Obviously, having a separate control room for phasers presents some severe problems — what if communication breaks down with the bridge? And indeed, this control room was never seen again.

9. No Seatbelts

We get it. It's fun to watch a dozen or so people get tossed around a bridge during a battle sequence — definitely more fun than just seeing a camera shake up and down while all the crew members remain safely strapped into their seats. But seriously, you'd think that after enough concussions caused by people falling out of their chairs, the Enterprise designers would just add some damn restraints. Class action lawsuit, anyone?

8. Bridge Consoles That Constantly Blow Up

Apparently sometime in between now and the 23rd century, engineers forgot how to include fuses in any of their electronics, so that anytime an explosion happens some poor crewmember's console blows up in a magnificent shower of sparks. Some of this might be explained by the power of the weapons in question, but not every case. And if you are dealing with that much extra energy, maybe figure out a place to bleed it off that isn't a red shirt's face?

7. Bridge is easily cut off from rest of ship

There's only one way to and from the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise — a single turbo lift. "We saw them trapped on the bridge in "Space Seed," when Khan cuts off their life support," notes Mark Cushman, author of These Are The Voyages, a series of books covering the making of TOS. "For The Next Generation, Gene had his designers establish a second turbolift tube. But, still, what if the elevators stopped working?" asks Cushman.

6. Only One Transporter Room

Especially early on in the series, when they don't seem to have shuttlecraft yet, this is a serious problem. There's only one transporter room, and if you put that out of action, nobody gets on or off the ship. In "The Enemy Within," the transporter conks out, and Sulu and his team are screwed, notes Altman. Also, in "Wink of an Eye," Kirk fiddles with one component on the transporter, and the Enterprise is cut off from the planet's surface. The ship's blueprints actually show more than one transporter room, but on screen there only appears to be one, and it's easy to put out of action.

5. Main Engineering is really easy to access

In the episode "Elaan of Troilus," we learn that you can get access to the ship's dilithium crystals — the Enterprise's main power source — by walking into main engineering and pressing a single button. "Seems [these crystals] would be handled more like we handle our plutonium for nuclear reactors… but more people seem to go in and out of engineering unobstructed than Times Square," says Altman, whom the L.A. Times named "the world's foremost Trekspert."

4. Self destruct talks really loudly

Say you're having to abandon ship, and you want to blow it up so nobody else can get hold of it. You might not want to give boarding parties any warning that the ship is going to go boom, right? But the Enterprise self-destruct talks reallllly loudly, and it's only in later versions that there's a "mute" button. Of course, this still managed to fool those Klingons in Star Trek III, but as Altman notes, they were sort of the "Three Stooges of Klingons."

3. Super easy to make the Enterprise blow up

This is a big one. In "That Which Survives," we discover you can make the Enterprise explode by screwing around with the bypass valve in the matter-antimatter integrator room, "adjacent to main engineering — which is easy to get in and out of, especially for beautiful women without midriffs," says Altman. And here's one area where the Enterprise-D is definitely not superior: there are at least a half dozen warp core breaches listed on Memory Alpha. So why aren't there better fail-safes in place? The crew was usually left to try to either eject the core, which wasn't a particularly reliable procedure, or to separate the starship. If they managed to do one of those things and prevent a cataclysmic explosion, they would still only be left with impulse and battery power. Surely there must be a better way. (More pleasant, but potentially just as lethal: the Warp Core Breach cocktail.)

2. Bridge is kind of an easy target.

Perched audaciously on top of the saucer, the Enterprise bridge seems like it's just daring any passing enemy to slice right through it. (Especially if you go by that shot at the start of "The Cage," the original pilot.) Look, it's a sweet view and all, but surely a viewscreen could provide that in a more secure location. "You'd think they'd want that protected in the center of the saucer rather than somewhere where one phaser blast could take you out," says Altman.

1. So easy to take over.

And here's the absolute biggest design flaw — the Enterprise has so many ways to take control. In "Day of the Dove," we learn that all of the ship's main functions can be hijacked from easy-to-access consoles all over the ship. There's the auxillary bridge, which is barely guarded and gives you exactly the same amount of control as the main bridge. (Or the "battle bridge," on TNG.) People also take over the ship with remarkable ease in "I, Mudd," and "By Any Other Name." Even space hippies managed to take over the Enterprise. "And how about that intruder suppression system in "Space Seed"? I'd get my money back on that one too," says Altman.
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby McAvoy » Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:43 pm

Power of Plot.
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby Graham Kennedy » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:49 pm

^^^ What he said.
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:06 am

Wait... how many times did the consoles blow up in TOS? I thought that was primarily the TNG era that happened.
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby Mikey » Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:07 am

Yeah, those design flaws only seemed to present themselves when the writers needed them.
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby sunnyside » Tue Jan 13, 2015 4:04 am

Obviously plot related.

However, while I haven't gotten the chance to wander around modern warships, I've been fortunate enough to get to tour some older vessels. As I recall 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 2 (although it's heavily armored) apply to the WWII battleship I was on. And to varying degrees a lot of ships. 3 having been all too true a number of times. Obviously they don't have transporter pads, but they often only have one helicopter pad (and there's a number of things they only have one of. Redundancy is great, but you've only got so much space and money.)

For 1, I've been told that military vehicles don't have keys. You're jus supposed to maintain control. Also we've certainly seen the heroes save the ship a bunch of times because of whoever being able to quickly use any station to do all manner of things.

4. Come on. A self destruct is the sort of thing you really really want to know is active.

8 is a bit harder. Though I contend that eight fully justifies nine. I'd rather be thrown out of a chair than have my nuts strapped down next to something that might have an explosion and plasma fire. Now they do power stuff by plasma, but you'd think a console wouldn't require that. Although I suppose they need to have inertial dampers and the structural integrity field all over, both of which may require a lot of exotic power to be delivered to some sort of emitters located short distances apart, all of that would be stressed heavily when taking fire. Come to think of it, we also see plasma blow outs all over the ships during battle, and the ones in hallways seem worse than the console ones.
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby McAvoy » Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:45 am

10. Is a plot thing that we never see again. Though I do not doubt there is a phaser room but I don't think they will be the ones firing it. It was just to mimic naval ships.

9. Seat belts. Makes sense for a ship that flies through space. Artificial gravity seems to be the most reliable thing in the Trek universe though. Inertial dampeners though is oddball. It can handle the super stresses placed on it when the ship moves around in impulse but can't handle a sudden jerking reaction from a torpedo hit or a phaser hit.

6 and 5 are plot stories.

4. I am sure there is a mute button. I might be thinking of something else but didn't some Trek captain or commander mute the self destruct?

3. Enterprise had always been easy to blow up. Some episodes the ship can take a beating and others, you can sneeze at it.

2. We all have said the same thing. The whole design of the ship makes no sense. The neck is too thin, the nacelle pylons are too thin. The nacelles and to vulnerable.

1. Power of Plot really.
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby Graham Kennedy » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:17 pm

McAvoy wrote:10. Is a plot thing that we never see again. Though I do not doubt there is a phaser room but I don't think they will be the ones firing it. It was just to mimic naval ships.

It makes some sense to me that they'd do it that way. If the bridge was destroyed, then the phaser rooms would easily be able to continue firing.

9. Seat belts. Makes sense for a ship that flies through space. Artificial gravity seems to be the most reliable thing in the Trek universe though. Inertial dampeners though is oddball. It can handle the super stresses placed on it when the ship moves around in impulse but can't handle a sudden jerking reaction from a torpedo hit or a phaser hit.

I always figured that was because you know in advance what the stresses of impuse and warp drive are; they're predictable, and so can be easily countered. Weapon impacts are external events that you can't predict the timing of precisely. So it makes sense to me that there's a little lag in countering them.

There have been times that they put seat belts on, but it never seems to last. No good explanation of why, really.

6 and 5 are plot stories.

Access to vital areas rarely if ever seems to be under security control. We've seen kids wander in to engineering in TNG, even. I guess it's part of the Federation's "we's not sneaky military type folks who have anything to hide" ethos.

4. I am sure there is a mute button. I might be thinking of something else but didn't some Trek captain or commander mute the self destruct?

In Booby Trap, Riker ordered the computer to discontinue the "Time to lethal radiation dose" warnings. That's the closest I can think of.
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby Mikey » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:35 pm

Seat belts seem to be obviated, at least in general usage, by SIF's and predictive gravity adjustment.

The phaser control rooms, as GK mentions, have always seemd to me to be redundancies; and/or a repair/engineering access which happens to have firing mechanisms.
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:08 pm

IIRC in the one with the Bynars, they had a silent self-destruct countdown as well
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby Captain Seafort » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:53 pm

First Contact too.
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Re: Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The U.S.S. Enterprise

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:02 am

So number four is thoroughly busted, then. Hell, in that one episode 'Let that be your Last Battlefield' it was used psychologically, too.
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