A6_8 When The Enterprise Fell To Earth

Peter Gorringe, Claudio Pizarro Salcedo, Tom Price, Thomas Bristowe


In the 2013 film Star Trek: Into Darkness, the titular vessel, U.S.S. Enterprise, is seen to accelerate towards the Earth from orbit, with its imminent crash on the surface of the Earth stopped by the firing of RCS Thrusters at the cloud layer of the atmosphere. Here we estimate the forces and deceleration experienced by the crew of the Enterprise when the ship is prevented from crashing on the surface of the Earth, and assess whether the stunt would have killed the crew or not. We find that the required force applied over the observed thruster burn time in the film to bring the Enterprise to a constant altitude is ∼ 1.08x1012N, which is equivalent to ∼ 31,400 Saturn V Rockets. The deceleration required is approximately 730ms−2 , which is equal to ∼ 75 Gs, and would have most likely have killed the crew.

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