(covers information from several alternate timelines)
Standard orbit, parking orbit, or a combination of the two, was the orbit assumed by a starship to maintain its relative position or altitude over a planet's surface, from where general orbital scans were performed, communications would be established, or individuals could be beamed to and from the surface. When the same starship orbited a space station, this was called standard station orbit. (TNG: "The Child")
The following were locations that were orbited from "standard orbit" or "parking orbit":
The USS Enterprise visited the following locations where it entered standard orbit:
- Delta Vega (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")
- Exo III (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?")
- Tantalus V (TOS: "Dagger of the Mind")
- Eminiar VII (TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon")
- Omicron Ceti III (TOS: "This Side of Paradise")
- Organia (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")
- Vulcan (TOS: "Amok Time")
- Gamma Canaris N (TOS: "Metamorphosis")
- Capella IV (TOS: "Friday's Child")
- Pollux IV (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
- Gamma Hydra IV. (TOS: "The Deadly Years")
- During this particular mission Captain Kirk ordered Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu to "increase orbit to 20,000 perigee," twice. When Sulu questioned if he wanted to increase another 20,000, Spock inquired as to the present position, to which Sulu stated "orbiting at 20,000, sir." Following the clarification, Kirk wished to maintain their present position.
- Gamma II and Triskelion. (TOS: "The Gamesters of Triskelion")
- Sigma Iotia II (TOS: "A Piece of the Action")
- 892-IV (TOS: "Bread and Circuses")
- Arret (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow")
- Ekos (TOS: "Patterns of Force")
- Following an attack from the planet's surface, the Enterprise's orbit was adjusted to maximum orbit, and "out of range of their detection range."
- Starbase 6 and Alpha Carinae II. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer")
- Melkotian planet (TOS: "Spectre of the Gun")
- Triacus (TOS: "And the Children Shall Lead")
- Motherlode and the rock creature planet. (TAS: "Mudd's Passion")
- Captain J.T. Esteban instructed the helm to "execute standard orbital approach", which was acknowledged with "Standard orbit. Aye sir."
The USS Enterprise-D visited the following locations where it entered standard orbit:
- Deneb IV (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")
- Ligon II (TOS: "Code of Honor")
- Jaradan planet/Torona IV (TNG: "The Big Goodbye")
- Omicron Theta (TNG: "Datalore")
- Velara III (TNG: "Home Soil")
- Relva VII (TNG: "Coming of Age")
- Minos (TNG: "The Arsenal of Freedom")
- Ornara (TNG: "Symbiosis")
- Vagra II (TNG: "Skin of Evil")
- Vandor IV (TNG: "We'll Always Have Paris")
- Earth (TNG: "Conspiracy")
- 'aucdet IX and Science Station Tango Sierra. (TNG: "The Child")
- When the Enterprise later arrived at the science station, the conn was instructed to enter "standard station orbit", which was acknowledged with "Aye, sir, standard orbit."
- Ramatis III and Solais V. (TNG: "Loud As A Whisper")
- Klavdia III and Daled IV. (TNG: "The Dauphin")
- Gagarin IV (TNG: "Unnatural Selection")
- Gamma Hromi II (TNG: "The Vengeance Factor")
- Koinonian homeworld (TNG: "The Bonding")
- Nelvana III (TNG: "The Defector")
- Devidia II (TNG: "Time's Arrow")
- After initially entering orbit, the ship's sensors detected "an unusual temporal disturbance on a small area of the planet's surface," located at "forty two degrees seven minutes north by eighty eight degrees declination east." The ship readjusted its position and was put "in a standard orbit above those coordinates."
- Ligos VII (TNG: "Rascals")
- Ruah IV (TNG: "The Chase")
- Renegade Borg planet (TNG: "Descent, Part II")
- Kalla III (TNG: "Firstborn")
The USS Rio Grande visited the following locations where it entered standard orbit
- L-S VI (DS9: "The Alternate")
- The former Hur'q planet. (DS9: "The Sword of Kahless")
- Upon reaching the planet, orbital traffic control requested the ship/crew's security clearance, after which they were cleared for entry into standard orbit.
The USS Voyager visited the following locations where it entered standard orbit
|Circular orbit • Decaying orbit • Elliptical orbit • Equatorial orbit • High orbit • Low orbit • Polar orbit • Standard orbit • Stationary orbit • Sub-orbit • Synchronous orbit|
|Lagrange point • Tidal locking|
The Enterprise usually takes up what we term "standard orbit" around a planet. Depending on a number of conditions or needs, this distance can be from one to seven thousand miles high. Our vessel was constructed in space and has never felt the solidity of the surface of a planet. In other words, it doesn't land, it stays in orbit.
According to the Star Trek Encyclopedia (2nd ed., p. 460):
The term "standard orbit" was used as an ingenious means of allowing the captain to give a technical-sounding command when the ship entered orbit, without having to bore the viewer with tedious details of orbital inclination, apogee, perigee, and orbital period. It was at one point thought that standard orbit would be synchronous, allowing the ship to remain stationary over a single point on a planet's surface, but a visual-effects shot of the ship, motionless over the planet, would not have been dynamic, thereby lacking dramatic value. Moving the ship was, therefore, a conscious decision by the show's producers. Even when the ship was required to "hover," some slight movement was shown so that the image wouldn't be static.
According to the Star Trek: Voyager Technical Manual (p. 26):