Hello All,I've been musing about the genre of Steampunk with Star Fleet for a while now. Shane mentions it every now and then as well. It would suit the world that the Great Skull comes from in TROM, and also the sailing ship technology quite well.As a Mechanical Engineer with a keen interest in Victorian technology, Steam has always fascinated me, and the Steampunk genre of Fiction has always been an interest.I have a workshop at home with a couple of ancient lathes (1930's) and other tooling for making things with, plus a few steam engines of my own, including one (from the 1950's) in bits on my dining room table, awaiting me to restore it. I also drive passenger hauling steam locos in the summer so I'm well versed in victorian technology.It looks a bit like a mad steampunk scientists lair in my house, with a laptop next to boilers and pistons et al.Steampunk hasn't endeared itself to Hollywood very well, and the critics seem to despise it most of the time. Looking at films like Wild Wild West, or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, they didn't garner much praise at the time of their releases. I didn't mind watching them though, and I enjoyed the steampunk tech that the films were full of.I would love to re-write Star Fleet in the Steampunk style, or maybe do a spin-off of it at least. So here are my thoughts for some of the tech that might be used. Feel free to use/abuse/develop this for your own stuff too If Star Fleet were to be based on earth, in Victorian times, then travel into the stars would be quite difficult to create. After all, I'm trying to write Science Fiction, not Fantasy. Short of big firework type rockets, there's not much else to use.So assuming it's to be played out on earth, then we do have some very interesting tech that actually existed that we can use. Reading through a book called "Steam in the Air" by Maurice Kelly, one can find hard evidence of a Hyrogen-filled Dirigible, that is propelled by a Steam powerplant. One Henry Giffard took off in such a craft on 24th September 1852, and flew for 14 miles over Paris before successfully landing.So there's a good basis for a possible Alliance Battlecruiser Not only this, it gets better, because one of the biggest exponents of Steam-powered flight was one Hiram Maxim, inventor of the Maxim "machine gun", as seen in many western films. Imagine a Dirigible bristling with Maxim guns! So plenty of material to use one's artistic licence with However, I long to write of Steam powered space-ships, so assuming that another world has already perfected this idea, how can we explain it's technology away convincingly?Well, surprisingly NASA has looked into this very idea, and there exist (I'm looking at them now) detailed designs by Vickers in the 1960's, of a steam powerplant to be fitted into satellites and spacecraft. It's a three cylinder radial engine that is powered by the combustion of oxygen and hydrogen (steam) and used to generate electrical power onboard spacecraft.It could be proposed that such a powerplant might be fitted into space sailing ships like "The Skull" to generate power.I am not entirely convinced by these ships abilities to use their sails to catch solar winds as a sole means of propulsion. Other means must surely be needed, for battle maybe?I hypothesise that maybe the huge sails could be filled with capillaries that could carry water pumped through them, which when turned towards a nearby sun, could provide heat power to a heat exchanger that could generate steam and provide electricity for the ship, and maybe energy weapons?A further means of propulsion could be devised that is similar to the ion-propulsion systems that are today's technolgies space-darlings. These engines accelerate ions away from the spaceship towards and through a graticule charged with opposite polarity, and hence out into space. By Newton's 1st law, as they are expelled they exert a very tiny push on the craft, no more than the force of a piece of paper dropping onto it. But in the vacuum of space, this is enough to gain momentum, and as each ion is expelled, the momentum increases until very high speeds can be reached. I alluded to this tech in my TRA story with the layered impulse drive of Lamia's escape capsule, which allowed her to outrun Makara's Kathaar Cruiser.This tech could be subtly changed for a steampunk ship, by simply having the ship take on board rock matter (asteroids) and crushing it up to a fine powder, and then using a steam powered ejection system, where the steam is not allowed to leave the system and is hence condensed back into water for re-use, but the dust particles are expelled one after the other, to push the ship along. Only a small trail of dust would ensue, and as the particles are small, the ship's "fuel" of rocks would last a long time.On the subject of a ship's orientation in space, where we can't use modern rocket motors, we can turn to the trusty gyroscope. There were huge steam-powered gyroscopes fitted to luxury ocean liners in Victorian times, to enable these ships to negotiate storm sized waves without too much heave. There could be such a huge gyroscope fitted to our space sailing ship, allowing it to turn effortlessly, or holdfast when releasing a barrage of fire at an opponent.With such a device, the maouevring possibilities are endless.Feel free to comment or shoot me down, but I think it's fun to ponder such tech.I hope this is of some use, or at least amusement.