Build the Starship Enterprise

How Much Would It Cost to Build the Starship Enterprise?

How Much Would It Cost to Build the Starship Enterprise?EXPAND

So you want to build the Enterprise. Don’t we all! Well good news: according to some quick, messy, napkin math, it’s possible. Kind of. The bad news? It’s going to be stupid expensive. But not unfathomably so! Start scrounging up your space-pennies.

One little constraint

Since we can’t predict the future, or even come close to gauging the cost of development for revolutionary new inventions or substances like warp and impulse drives, shields, and teleporters, we’re going to stick to what we know. It might not make us a real Enterprise, but it’s about as close as you’re going to get.

So where do we start?

First we have to pick our Enterprise. Obviously, with Star Trek: Into Darkness coming out, we’re going to go with the one from that universe, from a size perspective anyway. According tosome stats we got back when the original Star Trek reboot came out a few years ago, we know the new Enterprise—or as the Star Trek wiki calls it: USS Enterprise (Alternate Reality)—is 725.35 meters, 2379.76 feet, or roughly half a mile long. So, huge. And while the exact measurements vary, other sources give us a height of 625 feet, and a saucer diameter of 1,000 feet. She’s a big girl.

How Much Would It Cost to Build the Starship Enterprise?EXPAND

Photo: Paramount

Raw materials

The closest thing we have to compare this to in the real world is probably a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The new Gerald R. Ford-class suckers will be bigger and more expensive, but we haven’t finished one of those yet, so we’ll stick with a Nimitz-class, specifically the George H.W. Bush, the most recent—and last—of the Nimitz breed.

How Much Would It Cost to Build the Starship Enterprise?EXPAND

Photo by: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas Hall/US Navy

At 1,092 feet long, the GHWB comes in at just under half the length of the Enterprise. And witha 252 foot wide flight deck, it’s a fair bit thinner. But there’s a lot of empty space in theEnterprise, whereas aircraft carriers are more like solid chunks. Getting really specific with a starship’s actual volume would involve some annoyingly real math and measurements we don’t have, but we can safely assume it would take about two GHWBs-worth of material to build a suitably sized, Enterprise-shaped brute when you stretch it all out. Make it air-tight and we’ll call it a spaceship.

Unlike the Nimitz-class cruisers before it, which cost about $4.5 billion, the GWHB cost more like $6.2 billion thanks to modern day perks, and we need two. And we’re just getting warmed up.

Running Total: $12,400,000,000

Some assembly required

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Photo: Paramount

According to the first JJ Abrams Star Trek film, the specific Enterprise we’re talking about here was built in Iowa. We’ll assume it’s getting the ISS treatment: Build it on Earth as a series of trivially sized modules that get assembled in orbit.

This is where the real cost comes in. If we go by the numbers from SpaceX, the Falcon Heavycan transport stuff to space for the low, low price of about $1,000 per pound. A GHWB worth of stuff weighs about 114,000 short tons. So a pair of them are 228,000 short tons, or 456 million pounds. Multiply that by $1,000 dollars per pound and… Yeah. We’re talking $456 billion justto get this into orbit, or $468.4 billion for an Enterprise-shaped space station, total. And that’s not including labor.

That’s a lot of scary zeros, but really it’s not too too bad. This year, the United States defensetotal budget expenditure was $3.803 trillion. So it’s not like we don’t have the cash.

Construction cost (ex-labor): $456,000,000,000

Running Total: $468,400,000,000

Tea, Earl Grey, hot

Now that we’ve got our big, hulking shell assembled, it’s about time that we start filling it up with some awesome tech. One of the (many) iconic technologies in the Star Trek universe is the ubiquitous replicator, making pesky things like staying fed a piece of cake. Sometimes literally. We don’t have anything close to the kind of build-anything-from-anything replicators from the series, but we do have something called the Replicator. The Replicator 2, as a matter of fact. Even better.

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While MakerBot’s Replicator 2 is stellar 3D-printing tech here on Earth, the thought of outfitting our enormous, enormously badass Enterprise with just one seems ludicrously cheap and lame. That being the case, let’s set it up with a suite of 50 and just pretend we’ve got five that are 10 times the size. One MakerBot Replicator 2 retails for a scant $2,200, so we’re talking an acquisition cost of (a still scant) $110,000. We need stuff to print with too, though. Let’s say 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of plastic, assorted colors. MakerBot plastic is $48 to the kilo, so that’s $112,160 in printers and ink.

The shipping weight of each Replicator 2 is 37 pounds, or 1850 pounds total, plus our 100 pounds of plastic which brings us to 1950 pounds. Launch that into space ($195,000) and now we’re talking.

We looked into estimating the cost of something like one of Organovo’s crazy Bio-Printers, but they couldn’t help us out with any kind of number regarding price or weight, so we had to leave it out.

Total Replicator Cost: $307,160

Running Total: $468,400,307,160

Hit the (Holo)deck

Microsoft has a promising little at-home holodeck on the way with its IllumiRoom tech, but while that’d be great in your living room, we can probably spring for something a little fancier on our Enterprise. How about the CAVE 2, complete with 320 degree, panoramic 3D LCD display?

How Much Would It Cost to Build the Starship Enterprise?

This isn’t exactly a retail product, so we’ll have to piece together the cost (and weight) in broad strokes. The awesome curved, 3D TV we saw at CES has recently been priced at around $14,000 and we’ll need 72 for a total of $1,008,000 in TVs. We also need 36 “high performance PCs,” that are maybe $3,000 a piece? And also a setup of 10 motion tracking cameras that we’ll just say costs about $10,000. We wind up at $1,126,000 for procurement.

After a little black magic involving shipping weights and wild estimation, we can guess that this rig weighs somewhere around 5,378 pounds. As for software development, well, you’re you’re going to have to program you own games. Sorry.

Holodeck cost: $6,504,000

Running Total: $468,406,811,160

Fire photon torpedoes!

But really that’s only half the battle. Or really it’s none of the battle; this thing can’t shoot yet. The GHWB already had some armaments that are theoretically on our Enterprise now, but they are pansy Earth-weapons. We need photon torpedos and phaser arrays.

When it comes to photon torpedos—well, we don’t have photon torpedos. But tactical nukes seem pretty close, preferably in missile form. The UGM-133 Trident II is a modern-day ballistic missile that can rock a nuclear warhead. And, it can be launched from a submarine which means it’s pretty much a torpedo, right? Kinda? Sorta? Regardless, it seems like it could be strapped to—and fired from—a spaceship just fine.

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Photo: Department of Defense

It’s pretty unclear how many photon torpedoes the Enterprise—specifically the rebootEnterprise—has, but we know the USS Voyager was designed specifically for scientific missions and had 38, so that seems like a fair bare minimum. Each Trident II costs $30.9 million to make, and weighs 129,000 pounds. So that means the cost of buying one “photon torpedo” and getting it into space is $159,900,000. The whole kit of 38 will cost us $6,076,200,000.

Photon Torpedo Cost: $6,076,200,000

Running Total: $474,483,011,160

Don’t phase me, bro

And of course, what would any good Enterprise be without its phasers? The Enterprise is said to have six phaser banks and fortunately, the Navy has some lasers that would be a decent substitute.

The Navy’s LaWS system cost $40 million to develop and build, so we’ll peg the sticker price at maybe $15 million per unit, for a total cost of $90 million for all six. The Navy’s been tight-lipped about how much they weigh though, so we’ll have to pull something really iffy out of the air and say each is about as heavy as a radar-guided Phalanx machine-gun bank just because that looks kind of similar-ish. So that’s 13,600 pounds each, or 81,600 pounds of gear (total) to blast into space.

Phaser Bank Cost: $171,600,000

Running Total: $474,654,611,160

Man Up

And what good is any of this if the ship is a ghost town? While it’s technically not a cost of building the Enterprise per se, we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least briefly consider the cost of manning this beast. Who knows exactly how many people man the Enterprise, including all the (hundreds of?) low-level nobodies, so we’ll just set it up with a skeleton command crew.

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Photo: Paramount

Going by a list of notable crew members, we can figure we need—at minimum—11 people on this thing. Luckily for us, a recent agreement between NASA and Russia pinpoints the cost of flight-training a ‘naut and shooting him/her into the great void at $70.7 million. So assuming our cadets already know how to do their jobs, and only need a little space-training, that gives us a transportation cost of $777,700,000

Of course, you also have to pay these guys and keep them alive. Recent estimates put the cost of keeping a soldier in Iraq for a year at between $850,000 and $1.4 million, so let’s go with the higher end of that spectrum since we’re talking exclusively about officiers and they are also going to space. That nets us a $15,400,000 additional personnel cost.

Lastly, they’ve got to be fed and watered and whatnot. In 2008, NASA awarded a roughly $3.5 billion dollar contract to SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp to perform that very same job of ferrying cargo, except to the ISS. That seems like a perfect estimate so let’s just steal that wholesale as our supply cost.

Personnel and supply cost: $4,293,100,000

Running Total: $478,947,711,160

To boldly go…nowhere

Now that our Enterprise can defend itself, the only think left is to make it move. Unfortunately, that’s pretty impossible under even the vaguest realism constraint. Warp drives, while they arebeing researched, aren’t close to existing. And impulse drives—essentially fusion rockets—aren’t much closer; we almost had a fission rocket once, but it got mothballed.

More recently, there’s also been discussion of an impulse drive that could actually run on something stunningly like dilithium crystals: deuterium (a stable isotope of hydrogen) and Li6 (a stable isotope of lithium). This engine doesn’t exist yet though. And it’d likely require some very delicate orbital-construction that we can’t really hack yet.

That being said, we’re going to have to call it quits here, with our weaponized, Enterprise-shaped space-station, which is pretty damn cool in its own right.

Grand Total: $478,947,711,160

(Or: 12.59 percent of 2013 US Defense expenditure total budget)

What We Do and How Close are We

 What We Do


How close are we to convenient space travel?

What we do at The Center for Starship R & D is research the facts and theories to develop the first ever Starship class vehicle for human space exploration. We are taking Sci Fi to reality by looking at all the possible ways that will make this happen within the next 10, 25 or 50 years. 3D printers are the future of building almost everything and will be used to print the entire starship or at least as much as possible. We believe that using multiple printers the entire starship can be printed using components that are in powder form or reduced to a state that can be used and restructured at the molecular level. We were asked on Twitter today the following question from MacMedia @TheMacMediaShow How close are we to convenient space travel? A big Thank you to MacMedia. MacMedia @TheMacMediaShow

Astral Center for Starship R & D is dedicated to finding solutions for humanity traveling in space.


Theories, Thoughts and Mental Exercises

by Donald McElfresh

Theories of some of our greatest minds never had degrees yet we place an enormous amount of credence on obtaining degrees. A degree is only as good as the person who obtains it. Thinking outside the box sort of speaking is what made/makes the great scientists of the past, present and future. Sir Isaac Newton did not have a degree in physics but is attributed with being the father of physics.

I am an advocate of using one’s brain to question and wonder why things are the way they are and never accept what someone says is the only way it can be done. Imagine if Columbus would have accepted that the world was flat.

Here are some things to think about:

Why do we have negatives and positives in the universe? Everywhere I look I find examples of +/- negative or posative Electricity we always have +/-, men and women, deserts and jungles, hot and cold, you get the idea. Why don’t we have something in between +/- ?

What would be the sign or symbol of something that is neither + or -? Neutral is in between but what is it really?

In magnetics we have +/- or north and south. One attracts the other repels. Why? Do magnetic fields produce gravity? Or do they influence what and how we behave as humans? Can these magnetic fields be interrupted or changed? Do they provide or operate at certain frequencies?

If the Earth’s electromagnetic field protects us from the sun’s harmful rays and solar winds as well as cosmic radiation why can’t we duplicate that to protect our starship? A theory I am working on.

In computing we use 1’s and 0’s or pluses and minuses. Eventually we will figure out that everything in the universe can be duplicated or modeled by using 1’s and 0’s it is just a matter of time. Another point of interest to me is that we will soon figure out how to transfer our brains or backup our brains to computers that will allow us to live on in a virtual world or we might have it uploaded to robots or some other form. Speculation on my part but I imagine that during the 21st century we will have thousands of breakthroughs that will advance humanity further in 100 years than we have in 1,000 years.

A simple math problem about space travel:

If it took Voyager 1 thirty-five (35) years to reach the edge of our solar system how fast would you have to travel to get there and back in less than 7 months?

That is 125 AU or 11,625,000,000 miles traveling at about 37,500 mph. We need to figure out how to increase that speed.
To travel to the edge of our solar system and back in a decent amount of time will need speeds in excess of 250,000 mph. At this speed it will still take us 5.125 years one way or 10.25 years to make a round-trip. At a speed of 1 million mph it would still exceed a year long journey to get there and 2.6 years round trip.
I am estimating that at 5 million mph it will take 3.23 months to reach the edge and 6.46 months for the round trip.

Our current technology doesn’t give us any engine or mechanism that will propel us to 5 million mph. Even at half of that at 2.5 Million mph, we could do the slingshot method around Saturn and Jupiter to maybe increase our speed but may not be enough to reach our 5 million mph goal.

Voyager 1 & 2 Trajectories to the Outer Planets

Dark Matter, Dark Energy and The Aether (Ether)

In Einstein’s theories and it has been said that nothing can exceed the speed of light. The speed of light is the maximum speed in the universe.

Yes it is for the speed of light and all forms of energy that we know about. But suppose that dark energy or the Ether is traveling at speeds that exceed ‘c’. Or to put it another way suppose there is something that we can not detect or have any current means to detect speeds or dimensions in excess of ‘c’. Our knowledge of the universe is still in its infancy and we are still discovering new things in quantum mechanics, quantum theory, etc. Why can’t we find the largest prime number? What is it? How far does it go? It appears to me to be an infinite number that is virtually impossible to discover.

The funny thing is; when we don’t know about something we give some funny name, like “The Ether”.

But what is it? It is the stuff that holds the universe together and in place and keeps everything relevant to its whole. It is the glue that bonds everything together.

Why is space black? Where does all the light go?

Here on Earth light is everywhere but in space it isn’t. Our atmosphere acts as a giant lens and refracts all the light that enters the Earths atmosphere.

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