We all know in Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi series, Star Trek, humanity has long evolved past the point of needing money. Instead, humanity, and indeed all members of The Federation, work not for commercial or monetary gain but instead to better themselves as people.
Unfortunately for you, we don’t live in this utopia. We live in a neo-liberal hellscape where the market is king. I’m not saying we’re the Ferengi, but I can’t say we’re not not the Ferengi; and one thing that’s always interested me as a latinum obsessed lobe fondler is how much it would cost to fuel the starship Enterprise, specifically the best ship in any Star Trek series, the Enterprise-D.
So, first of all, you need to know what fuels the Enterprise. The Enterprise-D is powered by a controlled matter-antimatter reaction within the intermix chamber of the warp core. The ship uses a fictional substance called dilithium to regulate this reaction and is capable of producing around a “terawatt”.
For context, the city of New York uses about 11,000 megawatts each day (according to google), so the Enterprise-D’s warp core could power New York for just under 91 days before it would need refuelling, presuming this output’s based on using a ‘full tank’ of antimatter.
So how much would it cost to fill up the enterprise at the antimatter pump? Well, it ain’t cheap. Antimatter is quite literally the most expensive substance on Earth, costing an estimated $62.5 trillion per gram (per sciencetogo.com) to produce, and the Enterprise uses an awful lot of antimatter.
Unfortunately, no specific measurements for the tank are ever given on The Next Generation, thankfully, Star Trek fans are nothing if not determined folk, and one smart Redditor by the name of Xais56 has worked out that the warp engine would need about 240g of antimatter to get the engine to the point where it was outputting a terawatt for 12 hours.
If Xais56 is right about the amount of antimatter required to get the warp core to maximum output, you’d be burning through around about $15,750,000,000,000,000 ( Fifteen quadrillion, seven hundred fifty trillion) worth of antimatter in half a day.
Now we should point out that that cost only applies today, and The Federation can definitely produce antimatter cheaper than we can (and our maths might be slightly off), but it’s funny to know quite how much fuel Picard’s burning when he jets off to Risa.
If you love Roddenberry’s science fiction series, check out our list of the best Star Trek captains, or we have a guide to the USS Titan, one of the coolest ships in the fleet.