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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 204
06-12-2012, 04:35 PM
Originally Posted by MustrumRidcully View Post
A random thought on the "battleship" classification.

I seem to remember that in some TOS episodes, the Enterprise was referred to as "Starship", as if this was some kind of class or classification. Maybe Gene (or the writer in question, if not Gene) actually intended to allude to the idea of "Battleship" there, and not just "space ship"?

Could be an interesting twist in ship classification. All the ships we name "Cruisers" should/could be Battleships (Starships in Starfleet parlance since it's not all about war).

It's not as if Gene wasn'T aware of the importance of Aircraft Carriers, but he seemed to decidedly not make the Enterprise some kind of space carrier, but more a ship of the line.

The classification of Battleships with their heavy weapons and heavy armor seems to fit to the Enterprise(s).

[/random thought]
It was not just some episodes of TOS. Every epsiode opened with Kirk's monlogue referring to the "voyages of the starship Enterprise."

Regardless, the dictionary definition of a starship is "a spacecraft designed to carry a crew into interstellar space (especially in science fiction)."

starship. WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. (accessed: June 12, 2012).

Bear with me while I state some fairly obvious things to make the point.

A spacecraft would be a manned or unmanned vehicle designed to go into space. A spaceship would be a spacecraft designed to carry people into space. The manned capsules of the Gemini program or the Russian equivalents during the space race would be technically spaceships, but since they never broke near Earth orbit, they are better described as orbiters than spaceships since the latter term evokes more of the idea of interplanetary travel or beyond. The various unmanned spacecraft sent to the planets or other destinations within the solar systems would be most correctly referred to as probes. The Apollo capsules left Earth orbit and entered interplanetary space to travel to the moon, so they are definitely spaceships, moreso than even the manned orbiters.

To date, no Earth lauched vehicle has left the solar system. Voyager is close to leaving the Solar System proper and entering interstellar space, but it is still just an unmanned probe, so it is not a starship. At the point it enters interstellar space, I suppose it would become the first interstellar craft or probe, but not a starship.

All that is just to show that the term starship is simply an exetension of the idea of a spaceship that travels to other star systems. Even more to the point, Roddenberry did not coin the term. It dates back to at least 1934, being first seen in the initial publication of what is now called Analog Science Fiction and Fact. It was known as Astounding Stories in that initial publication. I would guess the term even predates that given the natural extension of the idea of a spaceship that travels to the stars. However, that is the first known use of the word in a published work.

So, sorry, there is no reason to presume that Roddenberry was making any connection to "battleship" in using "starship." The later was an existing, approrpiate term to describe a ship that was making a voyage to the stars for purpose of first contact.