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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 Enterprise NX-01 attempted to enter standard orbit of a Romulan planet when it was hit by a mine. (ENT: "Minefield")

The USS Enterprise over Vulcan in an alternate 2258. (Star Trek)

The USS Enterprise visited the following locations where it entered standard orbit:

The USS Reliant at Ceti Alpha V in 2285. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

The USS Grissom at the Genesis Planet in 2285. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

  • Captain J.T. Esteban instructed the helm to "execute standard orbital approach", which was acknowledged with "Standard orbit. Aye sir."

The USS Enterprise-A at Nimbus III and Sha Ka Ree in 2287. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

The USS Enterprise-D visited the following locations where it entered standard orbit:

The USS Rio Grande visited the following locations where it entered standard orbit

The USS Defiant at Callinon VII in 2371. (DS9: "The Search, Part I")

Damar's attack ship at Cardassia Prime in 2375. (DS9: "The Dogs of War")

The USS Voyager visited the following locations where it entered standard orbit

Background information[]

In the episode "Haven", according to the script, the Enterprise-D was in a standard orbit over the planet Haven.

According to the Star Trek Writers/Directors Guide (third revision, 17 April 1967, p. 24):

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):

Standard orbit: When Voyager orbits a planet, it generally assumes what is called STANDARD ORBIT. For a Class M (Earth-type) planet, this is often a synchronous orbit at about 35,000 kilometers altitude.

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