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This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Discovery, and thus may contain spoilers.

For the mirror universe counterpart, please see Airiam (mirror).
"Some people choose to live their lives as if nothing is a miracle. But Airiam fought for her life, and so everything was. Everything that she saw, everything that she felt, all of her memories, they made a kind of… constellation for her."
– Sylvia Tilly's eulogy for Airiam, 2257 ("The Red Angel")

Lieutenant Commander Airiam was a female Human cyborg, a Starfleet science officer who lived during the mid-23rd century. Beginning in 2256, she served aboard the USS Discovery as the spore drive ops officer. (DIS: "Context Is for Kings", "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry")

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What role did Airiam play on the USS Discovery? toggle section
Lieutenant Commander Airiam was the spore drive ops officer on the USS Discovery, working closely with Lieutenant Paul Stamets. Her augmentation necessitated manual management of her memories. She was instrumental in a battle with the Klingons to protect Corvan II. After her death in 2257, Lieutenant Nilsson succeeded her as the spore drive ops officer.
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What was the significance of Airiam being a cyborg in Starfleet? toggle section
Lieutenant Commander Airiam, a Human cyborg, was a Starfleet science officer during the mid-23rd century. After a shuttle accident that took her husband's life, she was extensively augmented with artificial components. Her augmentation required her to manually manage her memories, choosing which ones to delete and which to archive.
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What was the "spore drive ops officer" that Airiam served as? toggle section
Lieutenant Commander Airiam served as the spore drive ops officer on the USS Discovery. Her duties included managing the spore drive, an experimental space travel propulsion system, and assisting Lieutenant Paul Stamets, the spore drive navigator.
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Early life[]

Airiam at the beach, 2257

Airiam and Stephen

At some point in her life, Airiam eloped with a man named Stephen. However, Stephen was killed and Airiam was seriously injured when the shuttle they were traveling in crashed on their return home.

The location of this elopement might be Hawaii, as she kept sand of the beach in a bottle labeled with the words "aloha" and "Hawaii".

Following the aftermath of the accident, Airiam received cybernetic augmentations. One side-effect of her augmentation was the requirement to manually manage her memories, choosing for each individual memory whether to delete it or archive it. (DIS: "Project Daedalus")

By 2256, Airiam had risen to the rank of lieutenant commander and served aboard the USS Discovery as the spore drive officer, assisting Lieutenant Paul Stamets. (DIS: "Context Is for Kings")

Service aboard Discovery[]

Federation-Klingon War[]

During a battle with the Klingons to save Corvan II, Airiam managed the ship's excess energy cavitation and maintained contact with Stamets and engineering, apprising the bridge when the spore drive was ready to use for escape. (DIS: "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry") She frequently maintained communication between the bridge and the spore drive engineers during critical situations. (DIS: "Choose Your Pain")

Airiam captains chair

Airiam in command during repairs

Lieutenant Commander Airiam was one of the higher-ranking bridge officers, and, as such, was occasionally left in command when Captain Lorca and Commander Saru were away from the bridge. After Lorca's death, she held the bridge while Saru met Michael Burnham in the transporter room following Discovery's return from the mirror universe. (DIS: "The War Without, The War Within", et al.)

In 2257, in recognition for her role in ending the Federation-Klingon War, Airiam was awarded the Starfleet Medal of Honor. (DIS: "Will You Take My Hand?")

The red bursts[]

Airiam was at her post on the bridge when Discovery responded to a distress call by the USS Enterprise. She was among the bridge officers present to witness the transfer of command codes when Captain Christopher Pike took command to investigate the red bursts, and identified herself as part of a bridge officer roll call Pike ordered (the only one who stated her rank, despite orders to the contrary). Later, preparing for the deployment of a gravity simulator to capture a fragment of an interstellar asteroid, she coordinated communication from the shuttlebay to the bridge and confirmed they had a flux coupler ready. (DIS: "Brother")

Airiam was involved in the use of the spore drive during the mission to Terralysium, (DIS: "New Eden") and again for the mission to rescue Sylvia Tilly from the mycelial network. (DIS: "Saints of Imperfection")

Working together with Sylvia Tilly, Airiam was instrumental in sorting through the hundreds of thousands of years of information transmitted to Discovery's computers by a mysterious sphere lifeform. According to Tilly, the task would have taken months without Airiam. (DIS: "An Obol for Charon", "The Sound of Thunder")

Corruption and death[]

In 2257, her cybernetic parts became infected by an unknown entity from the 28th century; any time it would assert control over her, an inverted pyramid of three red dots would flash in each eye. (DIS: "Light and Shadows")

This infection led to Section 31's threat assessment system, Control, taking over her motor functions in an attempt to upload the hundred thousand years of information the entity dubbed "Sphere" had collected on artificial intelligence in an attempt to gain full sentience and, as believed by the crew of the Discovery, fulfill the vision Spock was shown by the Red Angel.

She was able to upload 25% of the data before Michael Burnham and Nhan intervened. Burnham was able to lock Airiam in an airlock in the course of the fight. After an attempt by Burnham to save Airiam by deleting the data Airiam had uploaded failed, she – at her insistence, in a moment of lucidity – was ejected into space by Nhan. She subsequently froze due to exposure, causing her systems to shut down. (DIS: "Project Daedalus")

Discovery Crew 2257

Crew assembled in the shuttlebay, 2257

Prior to her away mission to the Section 31 base and subsequent death, she uploaded the majority of her personal memories to the Discovery's database. (DIS: "Project Daedalus") Her body was retrieved by the crew, who held a funeral for her in the shuttlebay before releasing her torpedo casket into space. In Ariam's systems, Tilly found a file on the Daedalus Project that was planted by a digital parasite and a bio-neural signature of the Red Angel that matched Michael Burnham. (DIS: "The Red Angel")

Alternate timelines and realities[]

In an alternate timeline, while time cycling due to a time bug, a Captain Michael Burnham from the future visited Discovery in 2256 at a point in time when Airiam was still alive and Burnham herself was a former mutineer who was not well trusted by the crew. In order to gain the bridge crew's trust, Burnham revealed to Airiam the details of her future death. Although the rest of the bridge crew refused to believe that Airiam would die in such a way, Airiam confirmed that she would sacrifice herself in such a way if it came down to it and ordered the crew to stand down. Airiam, who was in charge as Gabriel Lorca was on an away mission, had Discovery taken to maximum warp and then had Detmer break the warp bubble as a part of Paul Stamets' plan. This timeline was erased when the time bug was removed before it could reset the cycle again as the changes made in each time period wouldn't become permanent until the bug reset. (DIS: "Face the Strange")

Personal relationships[]

"… please tell everyone I love them."
– Some of Airiam's last words, 2257 ("Project Daedalus")
Airiam memory of kadis-kot

Saving a memory of discussing kadis-kot skills in the mess hall

Aboard Discovery, Airiam was popular among the bridge officers. She was particularly close friends with Sylvia Tilly, Keyla Detmer, and Joann Owosekun. The four of them enjoyed playing kadis-kot together, though Owosekun poked fun at Tilly and Airiam for having memorized every possible gambit. Detmer later joked "don't forget about us little people," when she envied Airiam's assignment to an away mission.

Even until late 2257, Airiam kept some of the details of her life before her accident private, only sharing them with Tilly a few days before her death.

In reviewing her memories, Airiam also held fondly time spent looking out a window into space with Michael Burnham who she considered a friend. Their friendship over the course of Burnham's time aboard Discovery made it all the more difficult and painful for Burnham to grapple with having to eject Airiam into space when Airiam's corrupted-augmentation threatened the entire crew.

Airiam memory of Rhys

Saving a memory of sparring with Gen Rhys

In the week prior to her death, she also saved a fond memory of sparring with Lieutenant Gen Rhys, where she was able to get the upper-hand on him. As Airiam was speaking her last words over the comm, Rhys stepped over to Detmer to put a hand on her shoulder as the two started to tear up. (DIS: "Project Daedalus")

While addressing Airiam from 2256 in an alternate timeline, a time traveling Burnham sadly told her friend that the crew missed her every day. While learning of Airiam's impending death, Detmer and Owosekun were particularly distraught by the idea that Airiam would die in such a manner. However, Airiam was the first one to believe Burnham because Airiam knew that she would do exactly what Burnham said if she was in such a situation where there was no other choice. (DIS: "Face the Strange")



Background information[]

Airiam was played by Sara Mitich in the first season and by Hannah Cheesman in the second and fifth season. Discounting occasions in which characters have been recast due to meaningful changes in the character's appearance, e.g. story lines set in alternate or earlier time frames, she is one of the few ongoing supporting characters to have changed actors. Airiam is also a rare example of a Discovery bit part that became a supporting character, even though it happened in the very episode where she was killed.

Airiam's nature was initially subject to a number of divergent background statements. described Airiam as being a "synthetic-Human hybrid," [1](X) while Ted Sullivan tweeted that she was an alien. [2] Meanwhile, AT: "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry" described her species as "augmented alien," while AT: "Lethe", involving Gretchen J. BergNeville Page, and Glenn Hetrick, called her, instead, an "augmented Human." That term was also used by the second Airiam actor Hannah Cheesman and ultimately confirmed on screen. [3]

While this was never shown, the possibility of her being modular so that her appearance might change depending on the mission was discussed behind the scenes. (AT: "Lethe")

Critic Darren Franich referred to Airiam as "the greatest background character in Trek history since the glory days of the Deep Space 9 bar." [4]

External link[]