One question that has always bothered me in ST:TOS, was the apparent lack of escape pods, though there seems to have been some indication of them in the secondary hull in ST:TMP. Could that be the reason for the saucer section being capable of separating in TOS?

  • 1
    Are you sure the saucer section could separate in TOS? I thought it was a new element introduced in TNG with the upgraded "D".
    – Chindraba
    May 7, 2018 at 6:41
  • Remember I am old enough to have watched TOS in its original network run, so I am going on memory 1.0. I seem to remeber that this was mentioned in the book THE MAKING OF STAR TREK. In essence, the CONNIE'S could disconnect from the secondary hull, but would not be able to reconnect, without bennifit of a starbase dockyard. In one of the episodes Kirk ordered Scott to jettison the nacelle's and break out of orbit with the main body. This is confusing as it presents two methods of disconnecting the ship. Why jettison the nacelles. They don't exploid? This show needed better continuity.
    – templerman
    May 7, 2018 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


Ok, if you will consider an escape pod and a lifeboat as serving the same function, possibly even two names for the same thing, then I'm going to say that they did have lifeboats on the Enterprise, and they just never used them in TOS. The lack of use is probably an out-of-universe reason, production cost in that era most likely.

As to some indication in TMP, I can give direct indication of lifeboats. In the wide-angle scene where Kirk first exits the shuttle into the Enterprise is a hatch(?) labeled "LIFEBOATS".

The full scene.


Also, in the Kobayashi Maru simulation in The Wrath of Khan when Saavik orders the crew to abandon ship, I can only presume that means there are escape pods or lifeboats for the crew to use in following that order.

As the Enterprise in TMP is only a "refit" after a long, and successful, voyage, I'd reason that something as basic as escape pods, if found in TMP must have been available in TOS even if never used.

  • I agree that there are escape pods/lifeboats on the TOS era CONNI.E'S. I wouldn't sign on to a ship that didn't have them. Still! They could have put up a sign in the old ships corridors as well. They could have painted some pods on the hull, as they did in all the other ship models. How much would it have cost? A refit? It seems that they built a completely new ship on the innards of the original. The saucer is larger in diameter and the neck stronger, with the torpedo bays located in it.. Even so, to be of use, escape pods would be scattered about a ship, not just in the engineering hull.
    – templerman
    May 7, 2018 at 20:41
  • @templerman It proves nothing but it does suggest they were there and just not in the plot. As to lack of markings for them just remember the era when TOS first ran. Critical analysis by fans was not a "thing" back then. They were much more concerned with social reactions than fans. Imagine the nation's reaction to a white Capt. kissing his black communications officer in the mid-60's!
    – Chindraba
    May 7, 2018 at 20:50
  • Yes! I remember. I was there. And surprisingly didn't even notice the significance until some friend pointed the fact out the next day in school. Of course, I was living in California at the time. Unquestionably, Gene was not concerned about these things. His kind of Starfleet Captain would never get into a situation where he needed them.
    – templerman
    May 7, 2018 at 21:09
  • @templerman Of course G.R.'s Capt. couldn't get into a no-win situation. Not even the Kobayashi Maru could defeat him.
    – Chindraba
    May 7, 2018 at 21:36
  • Regarding the lifeboat/escape-pod question. I came across some images showing internal deck plans of the CONSTITUTION class starships. On one of the decks in the middle section of the saucer, about half way from the central core to the edge of the saucer are perhaps 24 to 36 boxes, labeled "Lifeboats". If memory serves, these were on two decks. Furthermore, were about a dozen or more scattered throughout the secondary hull. If I locate these again I will post the location. As my computer is not accessible, at present, I am limited to a seven inch tablet, and could not save the images.
    – templerman
    Feb 10, 2019 at 22:39

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