You probably wouldn’t think something like the struts connecting the engines of a spaceship would really matter when it comes to the Enterprise boldly going to far-flung places, but even a fictional ship needs functional elements that just happen to look really cool.
A sci-fi ship should be able to soar into the deep unknown whether or not it would even get off the ground in reality. While staying afloat isn’t an issue with the Enterprise, YouTuber E.C. Henry just uploaded a video making a case for one structural must on the Enterprise refit design that most Trekkies who’ve seen the first Star Trek movie probably wouldn’t even have thought of.
Henry observes that what many fans consider to be the ideal Enterprise has made one engineering change that has both technical and aesthetic benefits. The reason for the narrower nacelles (outer casings of spaceship engines) and angled nacelle struts (which keep the engines connected to the ship’s core) is actually obvious in the film if you just know where to look. The profile of the original ship might be slightly clunkier than the revamp, but that’s not all.
Though the nacelles in both models are still positioned pretty much the same way in relation to the rest of the ship, but whichever Starfleet engineers decided to build the original struts at 90 degrees were compromising the maximum possible size of the shuttle bay. If that doesn’t sound like too much of a big deal, the struts would most likely penetrate the hull or at least meet in the middle had this been an actual ship, meaning that the shuttle bay couldn’t extend much further.
The refit sees these struts getting about 50 feet out of the way and entering the hull at a different point, enough to make more room for the flight deck and the elevators—which take shuttles up and down since not everything gets beamed on board. You can see the post-remodel improvements in the film when Kirk is marveling at the new shuttle with its futuristic elevators.
If you can’t get enough of this kind of geekery, check out Hansen’s YouTube channel, where he talks more Trek, examines other fictional spacecraft and reimagines the Star Wars prequels.