As you may have figured out by now, the White House’s petitions website, which pledges to respond and weigh in on the proposal of any petition that reaches 25 thousand signatures within thirty days, isn’t exactly the most… effective thing on the planet. Well, let me be more specific: it’s pretty effective a recording how many people have signed a petition. But it’s pretty clear that at best it’s an interesting way to get people thinking about what they want from their government and getting said government to acknowledge those desires in a way as committal or non-committal as they feel like on that particular day.
So I’m okay with somebody starting up a petition for the U.S. government to throw resources behind the Galaxy Questian endeavor of building a working Constitution Class starship Enterprise, as long as he admits that that’s not really the point.
What the so-far anonymous creator of the petition (and the website BuildTheEnterprise.org) BTE Dan is really interested in seeing is getting more press for the idea, so that more scientists and engineers start thinking of it like a real possibility, because that’s the only way it’s ever going to happen. From io9:
I have been getting many offers of help from engineers outside the space industry, and that’s great… But also what is needed are some experienced space engineers who adopt a can do attitude about the concept of the Gen1 Enterprise… I am an outsider poking around in [NASA's] sandbox, and human nature is that people don’t like that.
BTE Dan’s plan for a real-life Enterprise isn’t perfectly true to what the Enterprise accomplishes in fiction: no warp drive, no simulated gravity. But he does think it could make it to Mars in ninety days, a significant reduction of the Curiosity Rover’s nearly nine month trip to the red planet. Why the Enterprise, and not just a very advanced spaceship? Because BTE Dan believes that in order to complete a project of this magnitude, we need to have it connected to something… well, bigger and more inspiring than what’s basically the biggest engineering project in history.
Do I think we’re likely to have a real working Enterprise any time in the next century? No. Would I like to live in a world where that happens? Yes. Yes, I would. Right now, the Enterprise petition has nineteen days to garner about 21,000 signatures. Maybe it’ll get some scientists thinking?