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Why can't spaceships be rectangles? : Take it Outside! • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

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aGuyWhoWrites
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Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

Postby aGuyWhoWrites » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:49 am

So, I'm debating on buying the new computer game Elite - Dangerous. Stay with me, I'm not on the wrong forum. I was looking at all the 'cool looking' spaceships in the game and this thought occured to me.

Since it's in space, why do spaceships have to be shaped aerodynamically?

Here on earth where you have air molecules engineers spend a lot of time designing the shapes of surfaces to interact with those air molecules to optimise lift and minimize drag.

But, if you are out in space that wouldn't really matter would it?

I mean a spaceship that looks like a 'really cool airplane from the future' shouldn't fly any better than a spaceship that looks like a big cube or rectangle, correct?

Or am I missing something?

TerryRodgers
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Re: Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

Postby TerryRodgers » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:52 am

I've wonder this myself. They only explanation I can think of, is all space ships are initially built on the planet?

I've seen this in Star Trek.

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mammamaia
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Re: Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

Postby mammamaia » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:35 am

if they weren't aerodynamic in shape, how would they be able to get off the planet and into outer space?

or, return to the planet?... or land on any other body that has a substantial atomosphere?
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aGuyWhoWrites
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Re: Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

Postby aGuyWhoWrites » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:40 am

I still think they could, they just wouldn't do so very efficiently. They would use more fuel.

I'm thinking, so what if they use more fuel they would be a lot cheaper to make; being rectangles.

Laycrew
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Re: Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

Postby Laycrew » Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:17 am

The Borg ship in Star Trek was a cube. Even though Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was silly, there were rectangle ships and a sphere shaped one.

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StevenRPattison
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Re: Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

Postby StevenRPattison » Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:44 pm

Eh, that's a tough one. Sure, technically you could make a spacecraft a different shape than the aerodynamic designs we create. As has been already said, most of that design is put in to getting it off the planet and into space. But lets say you have a huge rectangular behemoth in space that never enters the atmosphere, instead sending smaller shuttle craft back and forth. That would work, right?

The only issue, is that space is not a perfect vacuum devoid of particles. Even in the vast empty space between galaxies there are individual atoms and molecules of gas. Factor that in to a craft traveling at even some fraction of the speed of light, you will have Drag. Those Drag forces would increase exponentially if you were trying to traverse a Nebula for instance. General Relativity already dictates that the closer you get to the speed of light, the less acceleration you gain from the same amount of Force. So adding that in, why would you even consider making a craft that wouldn't help to lessen or annihilate the Drag forces you are likely to experience in Space? Also, imagine colliding with a piece of space debris. A well designed craft built to deflect those sort of collisions with minimal or no damage would have to be curved. Try barreling into a small space rock at close to the speed of light with a flat, perpendicular surface... Ouch.

This is conjecture based on what I know. I'm no genius, but I am studying Computational Physics at Penn State for this exact reason. I love thinking about this stuff. haha

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pls
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Re: Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

Postby pls » Wed Apr 15, 2015 2:34 pm

I'm moving this to the "Take It Outside" forum, since it has nothing to do with writing.
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TerryRodgers
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Re: Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

Postby TerryRodgers » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:02 pm


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pls
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Re: Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

Postby pls » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:06 pm

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aGuyWhoWrites
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Re: Why can't spaceships be rectangles?

Postby aGuyWhoWrites » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:26 pm

OK, I give... I'll keep them aerodynamically designed. Besides they do look a lot cooler!

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