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October 20, 2008 12:15 AM   Subscribe

How much does a spaceship weigh?

I can't believe that this hasn't been asked before. Or, rather, I can't believe my google-fu is THIS bad. How much does a spaceship weigh, where spaceship can be:

1) Enterprise (either from TOS or TNG)
2) Battlestar Galactica (new series)
3) Imperial Star Destroyer

Or answer for all of them, whatevs homies.
posted by eurasian to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
This site is only able to peg the mass of a Constitution-class Starfleet heavy cruiser (e.g. NCC-1701, the USS Enterprise) at "<1,000,000 metric tons."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:25 AM on October 20, 2008


This webpage pegs an Imperial Destroyer as Weight/Mass: 26.7 million tons (25 million metric tons).
posted by InsanePenguin at 12:50 AM on October 20, 2008


I've heard it said that there are only three sizes in science fiction: Really Big, About The Same, and Really Small. There are also only two speeds: Fast Enough and Not Fast Enough.

That is, a borg cube or a death star isn't a million tons or a billion tons or 700 billion tons; it's just Really Big.
posted by Mike1024 at 2:50 AM on October 20, 2008


Just to put things in perspective, our puny mono-orbital Space Shuttle only weighs 4.5 million pounds (at take-off). The orbital module itself is probably a million, plus-or-minus depending on the payload.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:03 AM on October 20, 2008


It's pretty clear that for this question to be meaningful, we can assume the OP meant to ask how much Mass each of these ships has.

This can be determined even out in deep space since you can measure the change in velocity of the ship after applying a specified amount of thrust to determine its (inertial) mass.
posted by vacapinta at 5:10 AM on October 20, 2008


Mass is mass, so this is a fair question, if only a bit imprecisely worded.

According to the Franz Joseph book, the NCC-1701 is 190,000 tonnes, 288 m long; saucer diameter is 127 m. I haven't found any remotely canonical statement of the NCC-1701-D's mass, but it is 642 m long, and according to Memory Alpha, has 25x the total volume; if we use volume as an index of mass, that would make it 4.75 million tonnes.
posted by adamrice at 6:59 AM on October 20, 2008


The orbital module itself is probably a million, plus-or-minus depending on the payload.

Empty mass of the orbiter is *googles* 151205 lb, and max payload is 55205 lb.

Generally if total liftoff weight is X, you should expect around 90% of that to be fuel.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:13 AM on October 20, 2008


The mass of the Enterprise D is 4,500,000 metric tons.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:30 AM on October 20, 2008


But then I found another page that said the mass of the Enterprise D was 397,805 metric tons. I'd say whatever is listed in the Technical Manual is canon, but my copy of this work is about 6 hours away (by car. Warp drive's not working ATM).
posted by BeerFilter at 8:35 AM on October 20, 2008


Here's a great poster featuring to-scale representations of a whole bunch of sci-fi spaceships. If you have accurate data for one or two of these (i.e. Star Trek links above), you should be able to extrapolate the weight of most of these other ships.

Caution: this poster is chock-full of awesome.
posted by Aquaman at 8:42 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Empty mass of the orbiter is *googles* 151205 lb, and max payload is 55205 lb.

Wow, off by almost an order of magnitude! It really is astonishing just how hard it is to reach orbital velocity. Thanks for the correction.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:41 AM on October 20, 2008


Thanks for the answers folks! And aquaman, I just had a sweet sweet embolism from looking at the poster of AWESOME.
posted by eurasian at 10:03 AM on October 20, 2008


Powers of ten style starship dimensions site.
posted by Freaky at 10:31 AM on October 20, 2008


It's a space station, not a ship, but it might be worth mentioning that Babylon 5 consists of "two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal... all alone in the night."
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:01 AM on October 20, 2008


Thanks for that link, Aquaman. I need some tissues to clean up with now.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:28 PM on October 20, 2008


Nerd clarification: Memory Alpha claims that the aforementioned Technical Manual states that the mass of a Galaxy-class ship (e.g., the Enterprise from TNG) is 4.5 million metric tons.
posted by neckro23 at 2:39 PM on October 20, 2008


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