Science

NASA’s new ‘IXS Enterprise’ is a spaceship worthy of James T. Kirk

Above: The concept art for what a theoretical warp drive-enabled NASA spacecraft could look like.

Image Credit: Mark Rademaker/Flickr

NASA scientist Harold White unveiled a new concept design for a spaceship with a faster-than-light-speed warp drive engine yesterday that most sci-fi fans will probably describe as gorgeous.

It also features the most famous spaceship name known to humanity, the Enterprise, an obvious nod to sci-fi series Star Trek.

As Star Trek star LeVar Burton noted in an interview with VentureBeat, sometimes art imitates life, and sometimes life imitates art — especially when it comes to inspiring new gadgets and technologies.

To be clear, we haven’t yet figured out how to create a warp drive, but that isn’t stopping White from imagining what a warp drive-powered vehicle might look like. For the concept, he teamed up with artist Mark Rademaker, whose background includes designing spaceships for Star Trek novels and other stories within the Trek universe.


Related: Engage! NASA is developing warp drive tech inspired by Star Trek


For more information about the IXS Enterprise, check out NASA’s White explaining the Warp-enabled spaceship concept in the video embedded below. And for more photos, visit Rademaker’s Flickr stream.

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More information:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) boldly goes where no one has gone before. The federal agency's Aeronautics division conducts research on new flight technologies while its Exploration Systems works on human and robo... read more »

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58 comments
Arthur Garreau
Arthur Garreau

In this case the ship is not moving! You should take time to read a bit about the warp drive. It's the space behind it that is expanded and the space in front of it that is compressed, and this is actually permitted by the two rings that you see around the ship.

Kevin Turnbull
Kevin Turnbull

^ they partnered with the designer of the Enterprise.

Anthony J. Mitchell
Anthony J. Mitchell

I like how this design has a saucer section and what looks to be a deflector array. We get so much inspiration from Star Trek. I think the series of shows has inspired American innovation and science so much in it's running than any show in history. As soon as the last show aired, science and space have taken a back seat and rarely the front.

Aaron Casillas
Aaron Casillas

Lol. Traveling via 3d movement is antiquated thought; thus this ship is an antiquated design. Traveling via "being there" will require a different design. We should look at creating whole Membranes that are fuel engines. They don't need a size or shape, simply the heuristics that define their function. Imagine a tiny universe with infinite fuel that a ship regardless of shape can tap in to. Imagine a ship that doesn't need to "move" in 3d space. More like Dr. Who's Tardis. We could travel entire cities to new locations. This ship design is simply an extension of airplane design and not necessarily the cutting edge of what is possible. Quantum entanglement/teleportation which was produced in a lab already is a much more interesting probability.

Arthur Garreau
Arthur Garreau

The shape is actually what permits it to go faster than light by surfing on spacetime.

Aaron Casillas
Aaron Casillas

Spaceships of the future won't need to take any specific shape. Nor look like a fancy space plane. They simply need to "probably" be at the location of choice. A box shape will suffice.

Joel Reyna
Joel Reyna

Let's just donate more money to Elon Musk and Space X!

Ryan Doyle
Ryan Doyle

Building a couple of these will create a massive amount of JOBS!!!

Brian Asher
Brian Asher

I don't even think they can build something that actually looks cool like that but I would fund the effort.

John Chavez
John Chavez

Let's get serious about funding NASA.

Allen Allen
Allen Allen

This had better not have been paid for by the taxpayers! Going faster than infinitely fast through time (the same as travelling faster than light through space) had better not be possible. If it is, I'm going back to the past and inventing PCs, the Internet and Yahoo! myself. Make that Google.

Al Bortz
Al Bortz

Oh Puleeze,  Shantner is a thespian, we need someone who knows what he/she is doing if this ship actually comes to fruition.  BTW they better build a whole fleet of these if they really plan a deep space mission,, they'll need the spare parts when it fails in deep space.

Tim OBrien
Tim OBrien

This is a great rendering, but the 'warp drive' is a FANTASY when it depends on 'negative matter' and 'negative energy' which are theoretical concepts and have never been discovered.  You CANNOT design ships and engines when you can't even get the fuel components for the engines.

Chris White
Chris White

Space is a dream that wont happen until we stop basing the world money on raw materials like gold. Space is full of the things we call precious here on earth. 1 good reliable space ship and the worlds riches become useless too much of it in space.  i know we have the tech why do you think we dont go into space

Thomas Danisi
Thomas Danisi

Sorry folks. There will never be a such thing as a warp drive engine -- ever.  It's a math problem, not an energy problem.

Knott Reel
Knott Reel

I don't understand the significance of creating a picture of what this thing could look like.  Since we don't have a warp engine, the shell is superficial. This has no more validity than a Hollywood mock-up. 

Dwight Wilson
Dwight Wilson

mr.white refers to a warp bubble.a warp bubble would surround a object the tech spoke of here has no warp bubble it deals with expanding and contracting space time for forward motion. i am awaiting a reply from Mr.white on said subject. and no i`m not sheldon cooper why do people keep saying that? hell i never got through high school


Thomas Ray
Thomas Ray

Like the rest of NASA its just a front to entertain the techies and keep the public thinking that our space program is inching along, when we ALREADY have secret Spaceships and technology that can run rings (Pun intended) around this thing. Nuclear spaceship Engines were being developed in the 1960s----I remember them, until they mysteriously dropped off the MEDIA's "Radar"-----and likely were classified in those cold war days. 


google "Solar Warden" for just a hint of what is really going on

Paw Paw Simmons
Paw Paw Simmons

they created a self cleaning kitty litter box, I'd say that's a plus....why not a warp drive?

Cecilia Lyon Staunton
Cecilia Lyon Staunton

Not to be debbie downer but wouldn't a craft be designed AFTER warp speed has been achieved? Otherwise the stressors on a structure are unknown. Nice idea though, we need more space exploration and less political unrest and war .

Ben White
Ben White

And...it will be dropped before it even starts in favor of another budget increase for the money-sink that is Orion.

Sandi Copeland
Sandi Copeland

I would love to be part of the team on that ship

Fiqri Ismail
Fiqri Ismail

To be clear, we haven’t yet figured out how to create a warp drive ---

So its not happening 

Thomas Chenhall
Thomas Chenhall

Put two magnets in repulsing orientation. Put a ring of 24 magnets in a circle in repulsing orientation, moveable also, adjacent to each ring, which contains within a mercury-based superconducting superfluid. No further questions.

Thomas Chenhall
Thomas Chenhall

Next stop: the dust. This warp drive has in fact been designed allready, built allready, and I'm not sure the inventor wants his / her name mentioned. Moreover, I'm in fact against any money going off-planet while all driving people still are forced to use gasoline.

Matthew Curtis
Matthew Curtis

nasa should not be the onlyones working on this. i believe this should be the first colloision of all the people on earth first time for deep space travel should be a step foward for earth since we need to start thinking this way.

Mike Shain
Mike Shain

warp speed in space isnt to far away.

Joel Reyna
Joel Reyna

Everybody put your pants back on it's just a design.

Ajay Desai
Ajay Desai

This space ship will be 3D printed and constructed in space, however...I think that Humans in long term space has been nixed because of the recent issues with long term space exposure to humans. We need to drone space.

Tony Costello
Tony Costello

It's happening provided some mystery material that isn't known to exist anywhere shows up by the ton....

Charles Watson
Charles Watson

Having a design for something that you don't know how to build is interesting.  Would you be interested in some of my designs for a time machine.

Paul Waiters
Paul Waiters

Space borne vessels need to adhere to specific design philosophies not because of aerodynamic necessity but due to the forces exerted on pressurized environments in a vacuum.

Jason Waters
Jason Waters

@Thomas Danisi My understanding is that it is theoretically possible.  Nothing can move through space faster than light, but there's nothing stopping space itself from moving faster than light.  So the key would be creating a bubble of collapsing space in front of the ship, and expanding space behind the ship.  The ship itself never actually moves, space moves around it.  Its an exceedingly difficult thing to do, especially considering how much energy such a feat would require, but not outright impossible. 

Anthony Storr
Anthony Storr

And people also said that there would never be a harddrive over 8 gb. Math problem. They said we would never go to the moon. Multiple Math problems. That fact that this is a math problem and not an energy problem means nothing except that we have to figure it out. 

John Seeders
John Seeders

@Dwight Wilson Trust me, after the grammar and punctuation you just displayed in your comment, nobody is calling you Sheldon Cooper

Chris White
Chris White

i myself had a dream about the same machine one that would throw a charge. a ring of magnets  spinning with materials that hold a charge mixed with materials that throw a charge it sat inside a fluid but i dont know what kind of fluid.  when turned on it created a bubble of energy that could move things even though that seemed like a side effect with it being more of a power source. i woke up a thought it was a strange dream is this a real thing someone is working on and if not how hard would it be to try and make it.  

Eric Wright
Eric Wright

I like my pants off, thank you very much, especially in space...

Eric Wright
Eric Wright

That's what inertial dampeners are for. If you understood the theory of how this warp drive will work then you'll understand one thing:


-We MUST be able to product large quantities of exotic particles quickly.

-We MUST be able to store large quantities of exotic particles for extended periods of time.


Why and what for? Because exotic particles can be used to warp space....and Ajay, what does warping space do? It makes things heavier, thus why planets have a gravitational pull, why black holes are so incredibly strong, is because the more you warp space, the heavier that area gets.


Therefore, if you have the technology to build the ship, and the ship WORKS, then let me ask you....would we not have ALSO figured out 'anti-gravity'? If that's the case, then the problems of living in space are....RESOLVED.


I think people who say "oh this is so and so far away and I won't see it in my lifetime" are people who have absolutely no vision for themselves or the future and are too comfortable with life 'as it is' to want to change for the better. Science has this right around the corner, but naysayers are the downfall of any scientific advancement.

Dwight Wilson
Dwight Wilson

@Eric Wright  hey eric just throwin ideas around i though if you were to need inertial dampeners that would be because your moving an object faster than light violating a law or two of physics this theory is expanding space time behind and contracting space time in front for propulsion  therefore your object would remain in effect motionless. and the gravity thing wow that another animal were still working on the unifying theory that will combine space time and gravity