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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
03-18-2012, 10:48 PM
The NX-01 also did atmsopheric entry at least once that I can remember, though it was much smaller than the later ships. And impulse engines have demonstrated the ability to move ships at a significant fraction of lightspeed, crossing star systems in a few hours, and manage to maneuver truly huge ships with relative grace. As such I imagine that the thrust output is something staggering, and that really the limitation on operating in-atmosphere is more a question of structural forces than anything else. Things like giant nacelles hanging off of slender pylons at weird angles probably would be subject to absurd stresses inside an atmosphere, whereas something like Voyager was a lot more compact and structurally sound than a Galaxy. Of course its all still super-science and a sharp turn in space still should have had insane shearing forces, but this is the same sort of sci-fi where constant thrust equals constant velocity.