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Consumables on the Enterprise such as food are recyclable, given enough power. And presumably power is all that's needed for phaser shots. But photon torpedoes are manufactured elsewhere and loaded onto the Enterprise, with only twenty on board. That doesn't seem enough for a prolonged mission, especially given scenes like this where three get fired in quick succession.

So presumably the Enterprise had to re-equip periodically during the five year mission? Did it return from the bits where "no man has gone before" to do this or did a space-oiler intercept it?

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    Did you notice that they stopped off at a Federation Colony or Starbase pretty much every other episode?
    – Valorum
    Jun 22, 2017 at 23:23
  • Possible dupe of Why was Enterprise on a five-year mission in TOS? which notes that the ship was essentially in continual communication with the Federation
    – Valorum
    Jun 23, 2017 at 21:47
  • @Valorum My TOS knowledge is confessedly from childhood viewing, so perhaps the strange new world episodes just stuck in my head better. I did see that potential dupe, with the note that "USS Enterprise had enough food and supplies to sustain its crew complement of 430 for five years" so being capable of operating in isolation (but I didn't know whether to trust that, being wikia-based) Jun 27, 2017 at 23:56

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Basically yes, As Valorum notes they were at a federation controlled outpost fairly often

the frontier in a warp capable society can be really close to civilization

a never explored star system could sit 20 light years from an inhabited system

on a separate note spare parts could be obtained from almost any advanced civilization

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    and with replicator technology...
    – jwenting
    Jun 23, 2017 at 11:29
  • Great point about obtaining parts from other civilizations. In Dreadnought (VOY), a plan is made to salvage Cardassian torpedoes for use on Voyager. Even though none are actually salvaged in the end, this was due to failsafe systems on board the Cardassian ship rather than anything to do with technological compatibility. Considering that DS9 (a Cardassian-built station) was extensively resupplied from Federation stocks, it seems that Federation and Cardassian technology have a fair amount of cross-compatibility. Jun 23, 2017 at 13:10
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    That's an interesting point - rather than thinking of it as "deep space" should I be thinking of a fractal surface? Jun 27, 2017 at 23:58

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