Whether you're a Trekkie or not, you have to admit that there's some sense of wonder to exploring the stars and trying to find life on distant planets. Of course, the U.S.S. Enterprise is a fictional ship, but have you ever put in the thought as to what it would take to actually build it, and when we could get it done if we really put in the effort? The man behind the well-researched site buildtheenterprise.org has, and he's determined that a fully functional Enterprise is only 20 years away if we put in the effort.
Created by a systems and electrical engineer with 30 years' experience, the BuildTheEnterprise site sets out a very specific timeline for the research and construction of such a massive space-related undertaking. The first nine years are dedicated to research, component testing, and drawing up a number of possible blueprints. The following 11 years are dedicated to development, where components will be manufactured and launched into space for assembly.
On year 20, the ship would be ready for a "moon fly by" with full crew and supplies. The plan may seem overly ambitious, but consider that we're already using a number of gadgets that were all but predicted by the Star Trek television series.
The estimated cost of building the Enterprise: about $50 billion a year for the next 20 years — $1 trillion in total. That sounds like a lot of money (because it is), but considering that the United States spent nearly that much on the controversial Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to bail out banks in 2008, putting a trillion towards making Star Trek a reality suddenly doesn't seem as ludicrous. Yeah, it's still pretty ludicrous, but in a really cool way.
Asides from the benefits of exploring space, the creator of BuildTheEnterprise believes that the mammoth project would have benefits here on Earth as well. "Above all else — the Enterprise will inspire us," explains the creator. "And some of those inspired by this undertaking will surely be American young people — many of whom will likely become motivated to pursue careers as scientists and engineers." You know, so long as creating a warp drive doesn't wipe out all life in the known universe, as predicted.