In the third episode of Star Trek: Discovery, Michael Burnham is being transported on a shuttle. The shuttle is attacked by organisms that feed on electricity, causing the pilot to leave the shuttle on a tether to check up on things.

Their tether seems to snap, and they are catapulted into space (where I’d assume they’d die).

However, it’s later basically stated that this was a strategem of Lorca:

MICHAEL: Why do you want me to stay? I’m not here by accident. I think you brought me here. I think you’ve been testing me.

Star Trek: Discovery, “Context is For Kings” (Season 1, Episode 3)

And later:

LORCA: I did choose you. But not for the reasons you think.

So he at least knew where the shuttle was going to be. Perhaps he was even in league with the pilot. In any case, he was there in time to rescue the shuttle occupants, so perhaps he could also have rescued the pilot (particularly if he knew what was going to happen).

Did the shuttle pilot die or survive? And was their death or survival part of Lorca’s plan?

  • 1
    We do see the shuttle going to warp near the end of the episode; so unless the Discovery got one of their own crew to fly it back to wherever, the pilot was presumably rescued as well. Oct 3, 2017 at 22:06
  • 2
    No canonical information, and it would have been nice to get even one line saying one way or the other. As it stands right now, we almost have to assume she didn't, in which case, Lorca really is kind of a bastard! Oct 3, 2017 at 23:08
  • @Michael He kind of is. He does all those menacing looks. And saying things like "Universal laws are for lackeys, context is for kings" makes him sound almost like Emperor Palpatine or something, tempting Michael.
    – Adamant
    Oct 3, 2017 at 23:13
  • I agree with you. He's certainly manipulative, and shows sign of having few scruples and believing he's been granted tremendous discretion, which he's willing to use until someone tells him no (which this early on, nobody has, yet). I'm looking forward to finding out just how far his actual discretion stretches and seeing what happens when someone calls him out. Oct 3, 2017 at 23:19
  • memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/SPT_21_personnel#SPT_21_pilot - She's not seen again in the show. Her character was uncredited. I'm guessing she died.
    – Valorum
    Oct 9, 2020 at 20:37

1 Answer 1


There's nothing that explicitly states the pilot died: Starfleet EVA suits have been shown to have long endurance, so the few minutes the pilot was in space shouldn't have been a problem.

From the point of view of the prisoners, whether she was alive or not wasn't important: what mattered is that she wasn't there, and they were going to die without someone doing something.

  • 1
    I guess part of the question is whether they were in space for a few minutes. Would the Discovery have been able to find them?
    – Adamant
    Oct 3, 2017 at 6:34
  • 1
    It was about 20 seconds between the tether being broken and the Discovery tractoring the shuttle. Discovery would have essentially been right on top of the shuttle when the "accident" happened. Oct 4, 2017 at 4:39
  • 3
    On rewatching the scene in question, there's something else noticeable: when the pilot goes by the shuttle, her EVA suit is clearly functioning (the suit lights are still on). So there's no reason to assume she was dead, and lots of reasons to assume she was collected by Discovery at the same time they were tractoring in the shuttle. Oct 4, 2017 at 19:45
  • @KeithMorrison: "there's no reason to assume she was dead" - I'm not sure anyone assumes she was dead already then (although, you can of course be dead with your suit lights still on ...). If anything, the scene makes it look as though she were catapulted away from a shuttle travelling at high velocity - i.e. essentially lost in open space. Nov 6, 2017 at 22:42

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