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Engineer takes it upon himself to gear Earthlings up for space travel

A self-proclaimed systems engineer, BTE Dan is the person behind Build the Enterprise, a website devoted to, well, building an actual, functional, space lasers ‘n all version of the USS Enterprise, the venerable pop-culture starship featured in the “Star Trek” film and television franchises.

“We are destined to be in space in a big way.”

Estimated time frame? Twenty years. Suggested cost? $1 trillion. Proposed missions? Dropping probes beneath the giant ice sheets of Jupiter’s moon Europa, or maybe blasting asteroids before they can smash into Earth, “Armageddon”-style. …

“We are destined to be in space in a big way,” he said in an email interview. “And the idea of traveling around in space, and seeing places beyond Earth, is fascinating to humans. We Earthlings need something to get jazzed up about as a collective civilization, and space exploration can do that.
“We went from shooting the first man into orbit to landing men on the moon in eight years. After the Wright Brothers’ first engine-powered flight, fifteen years later the first trans-atlantic flight occurred. Big things can happen quickly given the commitment.”
Build the Enterprise was launched in May, shortly before NASA’s final space shuttle mission ended an era and left the nation’s future of manned spaceflight in doubt. The website details a surprisingly comprehensive, rooted-in-reality plan for constructing a nuclear-powered spaceship with ion engines and artificial gravity that resembles the “Star Trek” ship, could transport as many as 1,000 people to Mars in 90 days and theoretically can be built with scaled-up versions of existing technology.


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