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Robin Bland

What Makes the Design of U.S.S. Enterprise Iconic?

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Io9 is pleased to tell you, though I'm sure many have ideas of their own...

http://io9.gizmodo.com/what-makes-the-design-of-u-s-s-enterprise-iconic-1789476964

 

 

Manny Coto's bit in the clip is pretty great: "It just looks right."

The best designs - of imaginary spaceships or damn near anything - give this impression that they've always been that way, they were just waiting for someone to discover them.

 

 

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Io9 is pleased to tell you, though I'm sure many have ideas of their own...

http://io9.gizmodo.com/what-makes-the-design-of-u-s-s-enterprise-iconic-1789476964

 

 

Manny Coto's bit in the clip is pretty great: "It just looks right."

The best designs - of imaginary spaceships or damn near anything - give this impression that they've always been that way, they were just waiting for someone to discover them.

Even though the Enterprise design is largely made-up science involved in its creation, there is something very functional about it.   The saucer for living quarters, bridge, etc.  The secondary hull for engineering and two vaguely rocket-shaped nacelles (which don't function like rockets, but they just scream propulsion).   It's both utilitarian and graceful all at once.  

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scenario   

The Nacelles fit the time the show was made. Nuclear submarines were fairly knew at the time. The newest most powerful way to move ships was nuclear. Who wants a powerful engine right near the living quarters? Put it in its own section. It just feels right. 

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I always loved how the engineering hull appears to be suspended from the saucer section and the nacelles - if you're thinking in Earth gravity.

Jeffries' co-opting of the archetypal shapes that were around at the time - subs, flying saucers, radar dishes - and his dressing of them with logical details, all seems obvious in hindsight. But again, that's the thing about great design - it often does. She was instantly iconic. 

The thing about the Enterprise - the basic design that's been riffed upon so many times now - is that it's graceful, but strong.  You wouldn't want to mess with her. She's a mothership - protective, powerful and yet not aggressive. 

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The model looks great from a number of angles too.  Shot from underneath, it looks imposing,  Shot from overhead, it looks vulnerable.  The nacelle struts almost look like two arms raised in triumph.  Something subliminally heroic about the whole thing, too...right down to the dashes of red here and there.

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Sim   

The view of the Enterprise is so much part of my life since childhood, I don't even manage to look at it with an objective eye. The ship is just what it is, and it just looks how it looks, and it all makes sense.

So yeah, absolutely beautiful. But I have no idea why that is.

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Iconic to me because, for all my love of sci-fi, it's the first ship that didn't look like a flying dinner plate or a rocket. It looked like some actual architectural thought into it.

It looked like a real ship to me and that was a first. 

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Iconic to me because, for all my love of sci-fi, it's the first ship that didn't look like a flying dinner plate or a rocket. It looked like some actual architectural thought into it.

It looked like a real ship to me and that was a first. 

^
This.

Even though the ship's functions are largely pseudo-scientific, it looks as though it could (or should) work.   The only other TV/movie spaceship I can think of that came close to its functionality was the USS Discovery of "2001: A Space Odyssey"; with its centrifuge spherical habitat command module, a comm array about midpoint along the spine, and at the end of the spine was the nuclear reactors that power the flight.  It made sense to keep it all separate for the crew's sake (esp. the reactors).   The Enterprise makes sense in that same way; there's a logic to it that no prior TV/movie spaceship ever really had.   Usually prior TV/movie spaceships were just some fancy-pants variation of a rocket ship, capsule, or flying saucer; but little-to-no real thought or practical engineering put into their designs. 

And even though the Enterprise design has been tweaked through the movies (A & B) and TNG's variants (the C, D and E ships), the essentials remain; a saucer (or arrow) shaped primary hull, an engineering hull and twin nacelles.  Variations on a classic theme.  

It's been time-tested for 50 plus years now and that essential design still works. 

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