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Surak was a long ranged shuttle seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture:

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Memory Alpha describes a long ranged shuttle as:

These long range shuttles featured a detachable fuselage pod, capable of acting as an independent craft from the stardrive section.

Here it is separating to deliver Spock to the Enterprise:
enter image description here

What happens to the stardrive section at this point? Is there a pilot in there to guide it back post separation?

  • Does my answer below solve your question, or were you hoping for something more? :-) – Rand al'Thor Nov 25 '15 at 0:31
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The stardrive section (referred to by its designers Andrew Probert and Richard Taylor as the warp sled) can fly and park itself on autopilot. As Probert said:

"At the time, I was intrigued by the idea of total instrument flying. Certainly 200 years from now such technology will be commonplace. [...] The sled, incidentally, parks relative to the Enterprise and automatically keeps station with it."
-- Starlog, issue 32, pp. 29-30

You can find this quote, along with lots of other info, here.

  • 1
    Is it just that you can't admit that you watch Star Trek? ;-) – Praxis Oct 3 '15 at 16:44
  • @Praxis No, it's just that I can do research :-) I haven't seen Superman or Star Wars either. – Rand al'Thor Oct 3 '15 at 16:52
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    I knew about you and Star Wars, but Superman too?? If only there was an "expert answer from non-expert" badge... ;-) – Praxis Oct 3 '15 at 17:02
  • I think the expert answer makes him a non-non-expert. I just don't get why he takes the time to do the research and answer questions on things he doesn't watch... I think we all appreciate it, but I don't understand it. :) – T.J.L. Nov 24 '15 at 16:14
  • @T.J.L. Does this help? stackexchange.com/users/4859979/rand-althor?tab=reputation I started answering such questions in September... ;-) – Rand al'Thor Nov 25 '15 at 0:29

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