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A shuttlepod was a type of shuttlecraft operated by Starfleet in the 2150s and early 2160s. The shuttlepods were used to transport personnel to and from planets and/or spacecraft.


In the mid-22nd century, shuttlepods were normally used by Starfleet personnel and sometimes by MACOs. The vehicles also occasionally carried diplomatic delegations. (ENT: "Babel One") The NX-class Enterprise NX-01 carried two shuttlepods, namely Shuttlepod 1 and Shuttlepod 2, throughout its ten year mission from 2151 until 2161. (ENT: "Broken Bow", "Strange New World", "Countdown", "These Are the Voyages...")

While it was the producers' original intent for Enterprise to carry four shuttlepods (evidenced by the ship's four launch bays), the dialogue throughout the run of the series made it clear only two were available. Scenic artist Doug Drexler theorized that there may actually have been four pods, shuttlepods 1 and 2, with two others "mothballed." [1]
Although Shuttlepod 1 appears alone in the final shot of ENT: "Detained", it and Shuttlepod 2 were at one time intended to be shown flying together in that shot, according to the episode's final draft script.

A Starfleet shuttlepod in 2154

Starfleet Command also used shuttlepods, although they differed from the ones used by NX-class starships. They had blue and silver streamlines and a registry number. (ENT: "Regeneration", "Home") One of these vehicles, seen in 2154, had the registry number NC-05. (ENT: "Home")

The final draft script of "Regeneration" described a Starfleet shuttlecraft seen in that episode as a "Starfleet shuttle", although it matches the visual design of the shuttlepods used aboard Enterprise in other episodes of the series. [2]
Other shuttlepods on Earth were scripted to be depicted from a distance in a scene from "The Expanse" showing a devastated area of California. However, no such shuttlepods appear in the final version of that scene.

In the mid-2150s of the mirror universe, shuttlepods were also stored in launch bays aboard NX-class starships and were used by officers of the Terran Empire. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")

The Federation starship USS Franklin carried at least one shuttlepod until the time of its disappearance in the mid-2160s. (Star Trek Beyond)

Shuttlepods were featured in a holoprogram used in 2370 that also included a simulation of Enterprise's interior and several locations on the planet Rigel X. (ENT: "These Are the Voyages...")

Technical data

The cockpit controls

Shuttlepods were able to seat a pilot and six passengers, although conditions aboard the vehicles were cramped. Each shuttlepod had an entrance on the roof, one at either side and a large entrance at the back. Seating arrangements consisted of a swiveling chair for the pilot, two similar chairs behind the pilot, and at the rear of the craft, two upholstered benches which doubled as bunks when necessary. These had lift-up seats for access to storage compartments. (ENT: "Broken Bow")

Oxygen recyclers were standard equipment aboard the shuttlepods. (ENT: "Exile") The pods were not equipped with toilet facilities. Universal translators were not usually stored aboard the shuttles. They were equipped with a store of rations and a tiny built-in stove to heat them. (ENT: "Dawn", "Similitude", "Shuttlepod One")

A com array aboard each shuttlepod allowed subspace communications over large distances. (ENT: "The Expanse") The vessels had the capacity to distinguish between Vulcan and Human bio-signs even in a snowstorm. However, atmospheric conditions could have a detrimental effect on a shuttlepod's communications and sensor capabilities. (ENT: "Shuttlepod One", "Broken Bow") At times, adverse weather conditions could also prevent a shuttlepod from landing. (ENT: "Strange New World") The shuttlepod was also equipped with proximity alarms. (ENT: "Sleeping Dogs")

Docking maneuvers

A shuttlepod connected to Enterprise's docking arm

Each shuttlepod was equipped with a transponder that allowed other spacefaring vehicles to lock onto the craft. If a shuttlepod's transponder was disabled, the other vehicle would lose this ability. Although an NX-class starship was capable of identifying the quantity and species of those aboard a shuttlepod, the smaller craft could be equipped to emanate false life signs. (ENT: "Storm Front")

While in storage aboard an NX-class starship, shuttlepods were typically carried in the vessel's launch bay, located on F Deck. (ENT: "Broken Bow") To achieve space travel, each pod was lowered through a set of doors by a magnetic docking arm. The arm released the shuttlepod once it was safely positioned beneath the starship's hull. (ENT: "Fight or Flight", "Broken Bow")

To return to an NX-class starship, shuttlepods docked with the vessel's magnetic docking arm and were then elevated through the launch bay's set of doors, up into the bay itself. (ENT: "Broken Bow", "Fight or Flight") In simulations, some officers were trained how to dock shuttlepods with starships. (ENT: "Observer Effect")

In the production history of Star Trek, shuttlepods were the first auxiliary vehicle shown to commonly enter and exit a starship through a set of doors on the "bottom" of the vessel, rather than massive hangar doors at the rear of the ship. In essence, the way the shuttlepods were launched was a significant departure for Star Trek. "Mike Okuda pushed the idea of the shuttles dropping out of the bottom," illustrator John Eaves recollected. Okuda worked up a small computer sketch of the shuttlepods' launching method. Star Trek: Enterprise co-creator and Executive Producer Rick Berman okayed it, thoroughly liking the design. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 7, p. 55)

Propulsion systems

The impulse engine module jettisoned

Shuttlepods were capable of traveling at impulse speeds. (ENT: "Strange New World") They were designed for a maximum speed of one-quarter impulse, though it was possible to go slightly faster. (ENT: "Marauders") Even more thrust could be produced by using fusion overburn. (ENT: "Similitude") The impulse engine module at the back of the shuttle could be ejected and safely detonated, if necessary. (ENT: "Shuttlepod One")

Shuttlepods were also equipped with several thrusters for controlled landing and maneuvering. (ENT: "Strange New World") Each shuttlepod had a single plasma injector, which, if damaged, could cause plasma to leak from the craft. (ENT: "Zero Hour", "Storm Front") A shuttlepod could be piloted with a damaged EPS conduit, although an operational replacement would usually be installed. (ENT: "Storm Front")

Tactical systems

Spatial charges fired by a shuttlepod

Shuttlepods were armed with plasma weapons. These included two forward mounted plasma cannons. (ENT: "Shadows of P'Jem") The cannons had a range of fewer than ten kilometers. (ENT: "Shuttlepod One") The plasma cannons could fire both plasma bullets and beam emissions. (ENT: "Shadows of P'Jem", "Detained") The cannons were more powerful than hand-held plasma rifles. (ENT: "The Council") They were equipped with targeting sensors. (ENT: "Awakening") Shuttlepods could also be modified to carry at least six spatial charges. These could be used to spread particles at a radius of five hundred kilometers. Spatial charges were launched as missiles from the shuttle. (ENT: "First Flight")

In the first draft script of "Shadows of P'Jem" (written while the episode had the working title "Untitled Andorians Return"), the pods' armaments were stated to be "plasma batteries". This changed so that, in the final draft of the script, the armaments were referred to as "plasma weapons", which they are called in the episode itself. Staying consistent in the aforementioned script drafts was that this type of weaponry was described as being fired in the form of "plasma bullets". These weapons are more precisely established as plasma cannons in "Shuttlepod One". In "Detained", "Anomaly", "The Council" and "Awakening", the weapons appear to fire phase weapon-type beams. Regardless, the final draft scripts of "Detained" and "The Council" still referred to these as "plasma bullets". Moreover, it is specifically stated in "Awakening" that these are indeed still plasma cannons. On the other hand, the final draft script of "Anomaly" referred to this type of weapons fire as coming from a "pulse-cannon" on the shuttlepod. In the final draft script of "Impulse", the same type of weapons fire from a shuttlepod was referred to as "a particle beam", suggesting the pod had at least one particle weapon.

Hull integrity

American P-51 Mustangs fly over a 22nd century shuttlepod

Shuttlepods were protected by a ditanium hull with polarized hull plating. (ENT: "Shadows of P'Jem", "Vanishing Point") The hatches of the shuttlepod were reinforced with duratanium alloy, making them strong enough to withstand a quarter kiloton thermokinetic explosion at a range of twenty to twenty-five meters. (ENT: "Minefield") Shuttlepods could also withstand an attack from conventional projectile weapons, such as those used by P-51 Mustangs, American World War II-era aircraft. However, heavier anti-aircraft artillery could provide sufficient firepower to seriously damage a shuttlepod. (ENT: "Zero Hour", "Storm Front") The bullets fired by such weaponry would typically be removed by a Starfleet engineer. At times, a shuttlepod could survive two phase cannon hits. However, explosives small enough to be easily carried by hand could destroy a shuttlepod. (ENT: "Storm Front") Photonic torpedoes were capable of knocking a com array off a shuttlepod without scratching the craft's hull. (ENT: "The Expanse")

The hull of a shuttlepod could also be insulated with minerals such as trellium-D that could protect the ship from spatial anomalies. Such a procedure would take at least twelve hours. (ENT: "Exile")

List of shuttlepods

22nd century Shuttlepods
Name/Registry Assigned to Last known status
Shuttlepod 1 Enterprise NX-01 Destroyed (2154)
Shuttlepod 1 Enterprise NX-01 Active (2161)
Shuttlepod 2 Enterprise NX-01 Active (2161)
NC-05 Starfleet Command Active (2154)
Franklin shuttlepod USS Franklin Active (2160s)
Shuttlepod Unknown Active (2160s)
Shuttlepod 1 ISS Avenger NX-09 Destroyed (2155)



Background information

The shuttlepods in Star Trek: Enterprise were designed after the appearance of the NX-class was decided upon. (Broken Bow, paperback ed., p. 270)

The ENT producers definitely preferred the shuttlepods to look nothing similar to box-like shuttles which had been used on Star Trek: The Next Generation. "They wanted the shuttlepod to be a flying machine with wings," remembered John Eaves, who designed the shuttlepods. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 7, p. 55)

According to interviews with Production Designer Herman Zimmerman, the shuttlepods were designed by John Eaves to be reminiscent of today's NASA space shuttle orbiter. (citation needededit) In fact, Zimmerman referred to the shuttlepods as "almost a direct steal from the shuttles" that were then being test-built, such as the ultimately canceled Lockheed Martin X-33, which Zimmerman described as "probably the closest model to the actual shuttlecraft that we are using on Enterprise." (Broken Bow, paperback ed., p. 270) Another influence was apparently the X-39. "That's roughly where the design came from," said Eaves. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 7, p. 55)

One reason the fictitious shuttlepods took their cue from the real shuttles was that the ENT creative staff believed the then-modern reentry vehicles were, without super-fast travel being invented in reality, probably "as close to state-of-the-art as they’re going to be in the next hundred years." Another motive for basing the shuttlepods on their real-world equivalents was that the creative team hoped the resultant familiarity of these Star Trek shuttlecraft would delight science-minded viewers. (Broken Bow, paperback ed., p. 270) Pinpointing yet another influential factor, John Eaves noted, "Herman really liked that lifting body look." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 7, p. 55)

Most of the controls in a shuttlepod's cockpit were labeled with the same terminology as the space shuttles. Almost all the control panels aboard a shuttlepod had to be custom-designed to fit a specific place in the cockpit. ("First Flight" text commentary, ENT Season 2 DVD)

Concept art for this type of shuttlepod, including an unused wing system

Each shuttlepod was originally to have had a total of four wings. However, series co-creator and Executive Producer Rick Berman didn't like that many wings on the shuttlepods, so half as many were ultimately included. In concept art, John Eaves suggested the two remaining wings could fold up, such as when the craft were in the launch bay of an NX-class starship. This idea was deemed too impractical because, when the shuttlepods were inside the ship, the wings would poke up into the launch bay's overhead walkways. The wings, when raised for docking, were also too wide to allow the shuttlepods to drop-launch through the bay doors. The solution was to slightly redesign the wings, so that they slid out of the body of each shuttlepod. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 7, p. 55)

Both of the NX-01's shuttlepods were constructed as full-size mock-ups, said to be close in size to minivans. While only one of the pods contained a practical cockpit set, both were capable of being disassembled and reassembled for location shooting, breaking down into eight-by-eight foot sections. ("Broken Bow" text commentary, ENT Season 1 DVD)

A CG model of a shuttlepod was additionally used to represent both pods, and was built at Foundation Imaging by CGI artist Koji Kuramura. "Building the Shuttle Pod was quite tough to [do]. Because it had to match the practical set ship precisely," he remembered. "The only thing is that they would not let us put characters in the cockpit, it always had to be blacked out. Which I thought made it look a little unreal. One more factoid. The shuttle pod also had guns, but you only saw them used in one episode." [3](X)

Actor Scott Bakula appreciated the inclusion of the shuttlepods in Enterprise. During the show's first season, he remarked, "I'm so thrilled that we haven't ditched the shuttlepods, and just gone straight to transporting. We know what the 'transporting' thing is, but the shuttlepod has given a different element to the show, which has been a lot of fun." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 138, p. 17)

In a deleted scene from season one installment "Fallen Hero", Travis Mayweather mentioned shuttlepods, likening them to the size of sea rays on Risa.

Ultimately omitted dialogue from "First Flight" would have established the 22nd-century style of shuttlepod as having exhaust ports and intake ports, the latter of which was used to fire the spatial charges out of. However, the vessels are not referred to as having those components in canon.

To simulate damage in third season offering "Impulse", the Enterprise art department applied a "skin" to one of the shuttlepods, giving it a burnt and crumpled appearance without the pain of actually damaging or repainting the pod. ("Impulse" text commentary, ENT Season 3 DVD)

The final draft script of later season three installment "Similitude" likened Enterprise's pair of shuttlepods, while they prepare to tow the starship, to "a pair of tugboats about to haul an ocean liner from port."

Several prop items and shuttlepod set dressings were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. [4]

According to the reference book USS Enterprise Owners' Workshop Manual (p. 29), the shuttlepods were classified as OTV Type K42/Personnel.

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