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In the original Stargate movie, Ra and his followers have ring transporters that can be used to teleport between Ra's ship in orbit and the surface of Abydos. In Stargate SG1, Earth Humans (Taur'i) eventually acquire this technology and install it on their own ships, using it for transporting between a ship and the surface and between nearby ships.

What is the maximum range of a ring transporter? In theory, could one "ring" from Earth to the Moon if one had ring stations in both locations? From Earth to Pluto? To a ship orbiting Proxima Centauri? Further? It stands to reason that there is a maximum range, as there would be no need for the regular Stargate if one could just "ring" anywhere in the universe.

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    I'm struggling to find an instance where the rings were used to move a distance greater than from orbit to ground. It's possible that they were used to move an interplanetary distance in SG1: Origin (Part 3) but it happens during a scene end. – Valorum Jan 1 at 15:48
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    Even if there is no maximum range there are still advantages to using the stargate over the rings: (1) ring transport is very slow compared to stargates; (2) ring transport moves a much smaller volume per activation; (3) ring transport can be intercepted. – Xantec Jan 1 at 17:15
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    judging by some of the visuals of long range transports i'd assume that the transport is slower than light, which would make it unsuitable for large distances. – ths Jan 1 at 18:02
  • In "The Other Guys" Felgar mentions the Hat'ak that SG-1 were taken to after being captured wasn't out of range, which could suggest that planet to orbiting ship is about the max range – SpacePhoenix Mar 3 at 23:19
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I can think of two instances which give a greater range than Earth to LEO. That gives a lower bound on the range:

Season 3 Episode 12 Jolinar's Memories
gives a range from the surface of a planet to the moon. We don't know specifics of the system, but the range from Earth to Luna is about 1 lightsecond.

Season 8 Episode 10 Endgame
is a bit unclear about exactly where the parking orbit of Osiris ship was, but it might have been somewhere near Luna. Again approximately one lightsecond.

  • The Alkesh from Endgame had an Asgard transporter so it didn't rely on rings. – John LA Oct 5 at 9:26
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Based on what we saw and heard in multiple episodes, it would seem the transporter rings' maximum effective range is the orbit of a planet.

At least, that's the further they've been used on screen, shown clearly in the movie itself when the nuke is beamed aboard Ra's ship for example.

How far in orbit is never fully established in canon or even mentioned on screen, as far as I can remember, and Stargate Wikia's article on Transportation Rings do not mention the information, leading me to believe that it was never established in any episode.

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TLDR

  • We don't know of any firm upper limit to the distance the rings can transport.
  • It would seem to be limited roughly from the surface of a planet to a close orbit of the same planet.
  • The rings are based on similar tech to the Stargates themselves.
  • I would assume the rings limitation is based on their capacitors or sensors...

So, there are no firm upper limits that we know of for pretty much anything in the Stargate universe.

Regarding the rings themselves, they are based on tech designed by the Ancients. They convert matter, transport it, and then put everything back together. While they are similar to Stargates they are not the same. I can think of three differences off the top of my head.

  1. The simple fact that they can transport matter both ways. We first saw this in the original film.
  2. Another big difference is that it is possible to intercept the transport with another set of rings, though I suppose technically it is possible to jump destinations, but doing so is much more complex.
  3. One final key difference is that you can also use one set of rings to transport without another set of rings to receive. In this the rings also have the ability to break through materials (i.e. structures) as can be seen in the film Continuum as well as a number of episodes in the series.

Given the obvious advantages of Ring Transportation over the Stargates there must be some flaw or short coming in them that caused the development of the Stargate technology over greater distances.

If Stargates were to have a flaw it would without a doubt be the limit in their capacitors. If a gate's capacitor attempts to store too much energy it will eventually cause the gate to explode, the key to both part one and two of the Redemption episodes. This I believe is also pretty much how Vala was able to destroy the first super gate in Beachhead.

I believe it would be logical to assume that a similar short coming is inherent to the Ring Transporter that keeps a limit to the distances it can travel. An notation in the SG Wiki reinforces my thoughts with mention of a buildup causing rings to explode during the Seth episode.

The other limitation may simply be the sensors in the rings themselves. If there is a "planet to orbit" limit range on the sensors themselves that could be why they are not used over greater distances. Sensors also came into play during the Lost City episodes when the team had to drill through the ice before the rings could be used to transport to anther set that were already within the outpost.

Whether the limit is one of these reasons or something else entirely I would assume with more development the ring tech could be improved and used over greater distances. This would likely never happen (even if the Alterans never left the Milky Way and) given the development of both non-ring transportation and the birth Stargate tech as well...

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    Rings can't be used to transport without a receiving set. That receiving set might be outside the same ship, but there's still a set to integrate the matter stream(?) back into plain old matter. – Valorum Jan 5 at 21:40
  • @Valorum - It is possible and has happened a number of times. It simply uses the same set of rings to reintegrate the matter stream. In addition to the time I mention in my answer where the rings break through the roof of during Continuum I can think of a number of other instances off the top of my head. The very first time I believe we see it happen is in Children of the Gods when the G'men transport from the ship to the gate. It also happens when Teal'c uses the rings to transport a Kull Warrior from a ship in Evolution Part 2 and the rings fly away into space.Youtube is short on evidence... – Odin1806 Jan 6 at 18:31
  • Found one video. This shows a Kull Warrior being transported to a ship from the middle of a dirt road. If memory recalls correctly this is when SG1 captured him for study. There is no way a second set of rings were involved in this transport. One set of rings is used throughout the series and simply limited to line of sight from the ring holder. youtube.com/watch?v=6lDE2hWPUBg – Odin1806 Jan 6 at 18:37
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    I'm afraid you're mistaken. There's one set of rings inside the ship and another set outside. It's possible that they sorta reverse so that it's the same set sending, then receiving (as they go back up into the ship). – Valorum Jan 6 at 18:56
  • I see what you initially meant now and where that thought would come from, but I would argue there is only one set. Even from the bottom of the craft the rings always appear to come from deep within the craft and they 'appear' to come directly inline from where the ring set is within the craft already. We know rings can go up and down... I admit you could be right on that account, but without some schematics (which I can not find) I may be solid in my resolve! Do you have anything definitively proving two sets of rings? – Odin1806 Jan 6 at 19:24

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