9

In "Amok Time" Spock begins the pon-farr and requests the Enterprise to divert from their course to Vulcan to drop him off for the "marriage ceremony".

Why couldn't he just take a shuttlecraft alone while the Enterprise continued to their destination? This kind of situation would occur a lot in TNG and DS9, where you'd see a lone crew member rejoining the ship by shuttle after some sojourn of their own.

Some possibilities I considered:

  • Did shuttles not have warp capability in that era? (or not go at a high enough speed to put Vulcan in range)

  • Did they consider it and assume Spock would be in no condition to fly the shuttle? (I thought they could be computer controlled?)

  • Out of universe had the writers just not established shuttles as regular forms of transport yet?

  • 2
    It's important to note that the implied capabilities of TOS shuttles were different from the shown capabilities from Discovery, though they cover roughly the same era. – Jasper Dec 3 '17 at 11:33
  • Or, he could simply request a new warp capable vessel from Starfleet or Vulcan explaining his situation. – Lobo Dec 6 '17 at 17:42
5

As to why they took the Enterprise, it's down to the fact that the need was urgent and the other ships wouldn't have been fast enough or arrived soon enough.

Was there any way out? There were three starships expected to attend the inauguration ceremony: the Enterprise, the Excalibur and the Endeavour. Neither of the others was within range to get Spock to Vulcan in time.

Amok Time: Official Novelisation - Star Trek 3

As to why they didn't just sling him in the back of a shuttle, the short answer is that the Class-F shuttles operated in the 22nd Century weren't warp capable. They were intended to take people from the ship to the surface (and back again) as well as acting as lifepods. It wasn't until the introduction of the Long Range Shuttle that they became capable of interstellar travel.

  • 1
    "It wasn't until [..]" And then Discovery came along... – Jasper Dec 3 '17 at 11:32
  • @Jasper - They seem to have thrown the existing canon out of the window where Discovery is concerned. – Valorum Dec 3 '17 at 12:04
  • Mostly, I'm not that bothered by the changes or have the hopes they are still going to explain how this will fit in the existing canon. However, the warp-capable shuttles is one of the things that bothers me a bit more. Then again, it was only ever implied that shuttles weren't warp-capable in TOS, the TMP long-range shuttle was never stated to be the introduction of warp-capable shuttles (I think) and it would be strange but not impossible if the Enterprise just doesn't have warp-capable shuttles while the Federation does. So yeah, muddy waters. – Jasper Dec 3 '17 at 12:30
  • The linked wiki says "likely that the craft had a limited warp capacity" but are those not meant to be warp nacelles on the Galileo? – Z. Cochrane Dec 3 '17 at 20:33
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    It's also worth noting that early episodes of TOS had wildly conflicting canon. They simply never thought that anyone would watch them on repeat, let alone pick them apart for meaning. – Valorum Dec 6 '17 at 17:38
3

Think the best explanation is "plot device", but as far as I remember TOS era shuttles were just that: short range transports just like the small boats on a ship. They weren't built for long range warp flight (despite clearly visible nacelles).

In addition, remember that most bigger ships have more powerful engines, so it would probably safe to assume that a shuttle might have taken too long, despite being warp capable.

Do from your three points the first two are the most likely.

  • Perhaps Starfleet uses a multipurpose shuttle chassis that can be adapted for warp or sublight travel. The NCC-1701/n shuttles are landing craft, and it's potentially catastrophically dangerous to bring warp fuel (antimatter) to a planet's surface, so TOS-era shuttles might lack warp capability by design. – Gaultheria Dec 4 '17 at 2:48
  • In the first proper Star Trek novel 'Spock Must Die!' by James Blish it is a plot point that the Enterprise has no shuttles with warp drive [and by implication none exist generally]. – Simon Bucher-Jones Dec 5 '17 at 22:36
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    It is a fact that in "Menagerie" a shuttle craft chased the Enterprise and ran out of fuel while still within transporter range of Enterprise, suggesting the shuttle had FTL drive to keep up with Enterprise. The shuttle Galileo 7 got lost in an area of "at least four complete solar systems" in "The Galileo 7". The shuttle Galileo made an interstellar journey in 'Metamorphosis". Some stories were written with seemingly FTL shuttles. – M. A. Golding Dec 6 '17 at 17:07
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IMHO opinion the only possible reasons for not thinking about letting Spock take a shuttle are:

1) Available Enterprise shuttles all slower-than-light short range craft.

2) Enterprise Shuttles faster-than-light but none available at the time due to various factors like being repaired, being used far away, having been destroyed, etc. The same reason why shuttles weren't used when the transporter was down in "the Naked Time".

3) Available shuttles are faster-than-light but too slow to reach Vulcan in time to save Spock.

It is a fact that in "Menagerie" a shuttle craft chased the Enterprise and ran out of fuel while still within transporter range of Enterprise, suggesting the shuttle had FTL drive to keep up with Enterprise. The shuttle Galileo 7 got lost in an area of "at least four complete solar systems" in "The Galileo 7". The shuttle Galileo made an interstellar journey in 'Metamorphosis". Some stories were written with seemingly FTL shuttles.

This suggests that the Enterprise sometimes has FTL shuttles, though maybe none were available in "Amok Time" or they were too slow to get Spock to Vulcan in time.

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