In that case, the Federation is highly unlikely to restrict all civilian spacecraft on the grounds that they might
violate the Prime Directive.
K. A. Pital wrote:There was once a writer in the Soviet Union who has written a novel about warp drive ships in the 1966. In that novel, warp drives were not just engines but also powerful weapons, due to the principles of action. If they could warp space, they could do it near celestial bodies as well, with enormous damage. Even if warp drives cannot themselves be used as a weapon in Star Trek, surely teleporters, holoprojectors etc. can be. I mean, these are operations with matter that are beyond our civilization even now - and with our rather limited tools, we can already decimate less developed civs.
While that potential exists, it is only related to starships insofar as starships are the means you use to travel there.
Thus, the problem is not private control of starships. The problem is any
act of interference with undeveloped societies. And all
such acts are already illegal in the Federation. Using your starship to interfere with a pre-warp civilization violates one of the Federation's most important laws.
If the Federation felt it was unable to prevent private individuals with spacecraft from interfering in pre-warp societies, they might very well ban privately owned spacecraft. But they do not seem to feel the need to do so. Presumably they have other ways of ensuring that their private citizens do not violate the Prime Directive.
Simon_Jester wrote:Now, your argument is entirely correct when extended to the large, armed starships the Federation normally uses in its Starfleet. There is not, and really shouldn't be, such a thing as a privately owned Excelsior-class or even Miranda-class.
I think even for sublight propulsion shuttles have antimatter engines or? This is not the kind of thing you'd want people to use. It is possible to miniaturize nuclear reactors and fit them into even bus-sized objects, but no private use.
To some extent it may be an issue of technology level. We routinely trust people today with vehicles and heavy machinery that would be insanely powerful by the standards of 150 or 250 years ago.
I mean, you can just buy
fifty liters of gasoline. It's not even very expensive. Think how big a fire someone could start with that.
You can just rent
a car massing over a thousand kilograms and drive at thirty or forty meters per second, giving your vehicle as much momentum and kinetic energy as a small artillery shell
If fusion reactors become sufficiently fail-safe, user-friendly, and compact, then maybe it is safe to sell them to private operators. For that matter, it seems as though most civilian ships in Star Trek have much lower maximum warp factors than competing military vessels. Perhaps this is because civilian ships use dumbed-down power plants and warp drives that are several steps backwards away from the most advanced technology?
NeoGoomba wrote:It'd be a little different if ST power generation was as miniaturized and fail-safe as, say, SW, where having lots of small, but capable, civilian spacecraft isn't a recipe for disaster. ST vessels seem more like volatile, fragile, engineering marvels requiring extreme diligence to maintain.
That's certainly true on military vessels, but that doesn't mean they can't make less capable but more reliable ships.
Whereas in SW the civilian spacecraft market almost resembles the US auto industry.
That's deliberate- George Lucas was very much a part of the American love affair with the automobile.