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"Life support belts" have only ever been seen in the animated series (and apparently a non-canon video game as well). Is there any explanation for why?

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Isn't this pretty much the same as your other question, Do “life support belts” exist outside of ST:TAS? ? – Izkata Dec 24 '12 at 17:15
@Izkata: "Do they exist" and "why don't they exist" are two separate questions, as pointed out by others when I tried to ask them both as the same question previously. – Flimzy Dec 24 '12 at 17:17
Just to note, Star Trek Online has it's own timeline/canon, if you'd like to call it that way. Also the personal force fields used there aren't suited for space walk; they still use full body suits for that. – Mario Dec 24 '12 at 17:34
@Izkata I agree with Flimzy; someone on the other question commented that this should be a new question, as editing the other one would have changed its meaning too much. – Mr Lister Dec 25 '12 at 7:46
@MrLister I disagree, since the answer to the first question is probably "No," which would make this question redundant. – Southpaw Hare Jan 20 '13 at 10:05

The life support belts you mention were included as an item in the FASA Star Trek Role Playing Game in the early 80s. They provide a limited supply of air, pressure, and retain heat somewhat, but are otherwise not as good as an environmental suit. They won't work for extended periods or for combat (they put up a noticeable glow around you without providing significant shielding) or stealth.

In other words, they're mostly useful when you don't need them for a long time. They do, however, serve better for highly detailed work and they are better for keeping a team in easy visual contact. They can also be worn in a 'sleep' state where they activate in an emergency (such as when the air vents).

Thus, they are primarily used as a safety and backup item. Most likely the belts were new and Enterprise was testing them to determine their limits and utility during the timeline of TAS.

Out of universe, they were created for TAS because it was far easier to draw a yellow line around the characters than to give them all EVA suits and still be recognizable.

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I recall reading about this in one of the novels at some point, but I couldn't say which one.

As I remember, their use was discontinued due to safety reasons. If they failed, the wearer could be killed very quickly. EV suits were considered safer.

I don't believe there ever was a canon explanation though.

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