In Star Trek TOS S1E18 - The Squire of Gothos - Kirk says:

Uhura, notify the Discovery on subspace radio.

This seemed unusually prescient given the current Star Trek series.

My question is: What is Kirk referring to when he says "Uhura, notify the Discovery on subspace radio"?

  • 4
    Are you sure that's a capital D and not meaning "advise HQ of the discovery"?
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 9:11
  • It is a capital D in the linked script.
    – hawkeye
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 19:23
  • 1
    That's nice but not definitive....if you had the actual script rather than a transcript I'd be inclined to support it...but Springfield has many problems, formatting is only one of them.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 19:35
  • This transcript is different - chakoteya.net/StarTrek/18.htm
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 19:36
  • 1
    Please stop defacing the question. The answer is clearly well received
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 11:41

2 Answers 2


The Squire of Gothos" opens as the Enterprise travels through a "star desert" containing no stars.

KIRK: Something, Mister Spock?

SPOCK: Unusual, Captain. I'm now getting a sizable space-displacement reading.

KIRK: Can you verify that, Navigator?

DESALLE: No, sir. Forward sweeps are negative. Wait. Verified, sir. We must be in some sort of light warp or we'd have picked it up earlier.

KIRK: Put it on visual.

(A purple globe appears on the viewscreen)

DESALLE: Iron-silica body, planet sized, magnitude one E. We'll be passing close.

SPOCK: Inconceivable this body has gone unnoted on all our records.

KIRK: And yet, here it is. No time to investigate. Science stations, gather data for computer banks. Uhura, notify the discovery on subspace radio.

UHURA: Strong interference on subspace, Captain. The planet must be a natural radio source.

What Kirk says In his last line seems to be a condensed form of what he would have said if he were taking his time and being perfectly grammatical. Military and naval speech patterns are often very concise. Subordinates are expected to correctly fill in the blanks and understand their orders. The correct interpretation of Kirk's statement should be something like:

And yet, here it is. [We have] No time to investigate. [Spock, Order the] Science stations [to], gather data for computer banks. Uhura, notify [Starfleet command of] the discovery on subspace radio.


And yet, here it is. [There is] No time to investigate. Science stations [are ordered to], gather data for computer banks. Uhura, notify [Starbase Twelve of] the discovery on subspace radio.

(Starbase Twelve was mentioned as their command base in "Space Seed").

In both reconstructions of Kirk's meaning, "the discovery" would be the strange new planet that Kirk ordered Uhura to to notify headquarters about, not the person, place, thing, or organization to be notified.

  • If we're going with this line of reasoning, then why would Kirk specify that the report should be made on subspace radio? Sure, the audience might appreciate it, but other than that? Would the normal choice be to use plain old radio? (I think not...)
    – user
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 12:41
  • 1
    @MichaelKjörling It's a little bit of a leap, but I imagine it's to make sure it's interpreted as "notify the appropriate external party" rather than "notify the ship's science team" or "notify the entire ship on the intercom". Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 14:15
  • @MichaelKjörling Using normal radio frequencies would take years, even if the destination were relatively close by. "Subspace radio" is Star Trek's excuse for how radio communications can cover intergalactic distances quickly enough to enable reliable two-way communication. Even if they don't say "subspace radio" all the time, I think it's safe to assume that's what they're using.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 14:29
  • @Steve-O Exactly, so why would Kirk specify "subspace radio", instead of that being assumed as the default unless something else is explicitly specified?
    – user
    Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 14:33
  • 1
    @MichaelKjörling This is a script from the 1960s, "subspace radio" sounds more futuristic to the audience than just "radio", plus they didn't have Alan Dean Foster around to explain every single plot point that doesn't make immediate sense.
    – user71418
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 11:50

The show's official novelisation (based on an earlier version of the script) contains a very slightly different and altogether clearer version of the exchange.

So, Kirk thought, imagination must bestir itself, stretching the credible to include the incredible. There was a certain dryness in his retort. “But there it is, Mr. Spock, incredible though it be.” He swung around to face his bridge people. “We can’t stop to investigate now. All science stations will gather data for computer banks. Lieutenant Uhura, report the discovery of this planet on subspace radio.”

As you can see, it's not the USS Discovery they're communicating with, it's the discovery of the planet that they're communicating to Starfleet Command.

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