According to this question and its accepted answer: Would Star Trek holodecks physically affect you once you exit the Holodeck? it is possible to remove matter from holodeck and it will remain stable, when using a mobile emitter.

Could Starfleet create ships with a huge battery and a mobile emitter as a core and generate the ship around it?

  • They would be more modular
  • Ships would be cheaper (many ships contain a holodeck)

The crew would die instantly when the ship ran out of energy. But in a normal ship they wouldn't live very long without communication, fresh air and water.

  • 1
    I suspect that a holographic warp core won't work. Perhaps you could use a mobile emitter for other parts of the ship though.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:19
  • @anaranjada what things can not be created in a holodeck?
    – Motte001
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:20
  • IIRC, the mobile emitter was somehow retrieved from the future and they don't have the technolgy to replicate or create duplicates.
    – RedCaio
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:21
  • 3
    As soon as the power went out, all of your crew would die. Instantly.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:24
  • 8
    Because the holoemitter would inevitably malfunction; and the federation would have to deal with a starship sized image of Moriarty's head hurtling through space cackling and launching torpedos from it's eyes...probably Commented May 24, 2016 at 23:51

3 Answers 3


Off the top of my head, I can see a number of technical difficulties;

Disruptions to power

Spaceships in the Star Trek universe (even those not engaged in exploration) seem to regularly encounter fields and anomalies that can disrupt power systems. On a normal ship, this is already quite serious but with a holo-ship it would be instantly fatal to the crew.

Holo-warp core

At a minimum the warp core would need to be made of both matter and anti-matter to generate sufficient power to operate a warp system. A hologramatic warp drive would also be a real technological sticking point, as would life-support, transporters, waste-control, replicators and weapons, all of which are (probably) not capable of working correctly if they're not actually real.

Mobile emitters don't exist (yet)

Voyager has access to an external holo-emitter (used by the EMH), but only because they encountered a time traveler with a piece of tech from some 400 years into the future. In order to proceed with your holoship plan, you'd first need to replicate, backwards-engineer and massively upscale this technology.

  • 1
    Build a giant holodeck, make a holographic ship inside, and have the holoship push on the walls of the holodeck to travel. Hmm, that seems like a bad idea somehow...
    – Molag Bal
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:46
  • Well that doesn't make a warp drive and making a ship out of force fields and replicated material or arranged photons would make the matter/antimatter containment a nightmare.
    – IG_42
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:50
  • 5
    Wait, upscale the mobile emitter, make it emit more mobile emitters, and build a holocivilization with holopeople. There, now you've joined the ranks of energy-based species and have no need for silly physical objects or bodies.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:51
  • 6
    @anaranjada - It's been tried. It didn't work. Sooner or later you need someone to push the buttons and re-align the doohickeys
    – Valorum
    Commented May 24, 2016 at 22:53
  • 1
    Things are not capable of working if they aren't real? Drat, foiled again. Commented May 25, 2016 at 5:20

Gonna be a short answer, cause we really don't get a full in universe answer.

I would assume that it wouldn't work for the same reasons that they can't just use a giant replicator to plop out new ships. We are never really told why, but we are given hints like "the structure is too complicated", "the material is too complicated" etc etc.

There are parts of the ship that can be replicated, but there are many parts that, for some unknown reason can not. That's why dilithium and trilithium are still mined, and I would assume gold and latnum are also not replicatable (else why would they be used as currency).

I'd imagine that these same restrictions apply to holographics as it's explained many times as "just like the transporter or replicator" with a mix of "force fields and photons" mixed it when convenient.

All that said, I think there was a TNG episode where the antagonist's ship was mostly holographic, but I can't seem to find it, so it may be all in my head.

  • Gold is replicable, it's just used to contain latinum (because it does a better job than one of Morn's stomachs). It's the latinum that is not replicable.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented May 25, 2016 at 12:41

It's an interesting idea...

In the movie Insurrection, we see:

A Federation Holoship, planted on Baku as part of a conspiracy to remove the residents from the planet without their knowledge. This ship is effectively a flying holodeck, capable of rendering an exact copy of the Village and surrounding area despite being much smaller on the outside, much like the other holodecks we have seen.

We therefore can surmise that it would be possible to create a starship along similar lines, with the crew quarters, bridge, recreation rooms etc all holographic and the actual essential systems not creatable holographically being serviceable by crew leaving the holodeck when necessary. This would, as the OP said, allow ships to have a much smaller physical area and resource cost. Whether this would be practical to use in a battle setting or worth the additional problems it could cause, I'm not so sure on.

  • 1
    Note that this isn't a ship made of holo-matter, it's a ship with a large internal holodeck and all of the flight-essential systems (engines, warp core, life support, etc) hidden away from the passengers.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 11:00
  • True. As your answer above said, I dont think it would be possible/feasible to build a ship where the outer hull, systems etc would be holographic. However, I was wondering myself about the feasability of a small, cheap(ish) mass-producable ship with either a much greater carrying capacity than its area would suggest, or one that could even be crewed holographically for long-term exploration missions... that would be kind of cool :)
    – sequoiad
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 11:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.