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The Enterprise was nearly destroyed by the Genesis device on the Reliant. It barely escaped by going to warp speed at the last second.

When the device detonates, the wave is strong enough to encompass a nearby world. David and Carol Marcus would have (should have but did not?) warned Kirk that the planet was unstable and would destroy itself within days. (As it did in the next movie.)

The Enterprise returns to Planet Genesis shortly after the explosion to place Spock's casket there after the funeral.

Why did Admiral Kirk return to Planet Genesis so soon?

Would he not have worried that the Genesis Wave is still active? Would he not think that the Genesis world could have destroyed itself sooner because the device was activated in a non-controlled experiment?

Even if the planet was stable and there were no further dangers, he had other reasons to leave soon.

  • The Enterprise was badly damaged and needed to return to a base for repairs.
  • Many of the crew needed further medical attention.
  • To return Spock's body to his family.
  • He had to inform Starfleet of a breach of security.
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    I'm assuming the answer will be "to go take a look" – Valorum Oct 12 at 20:05
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    @Valorum Can you support your assumption with a quote from a canon source? – LincolnMan Oct 13 at 3:55
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    @LincolnMan "to boldly go where no man has gone before" – Kevin Oct 13 at 5:26
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    @Kevin Boldly going where no one has gone before is contrary to Kirk's duty if the crew are injured and the ship is badly damaged. Kirk has made a point of maintaining the safety of the ship and crew. – RichS Oct 13 at 7:19
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    @M.A.Golding The post points out that "many of the crew needed further medical attention." It also mentions the "Enterprise returns to Planet Genesis shortly after the explosion to place Spock's casket there after the funeral." Both of those clearly imply the question is about the end of *The Wrath of Khan. – LincolnMan Oct 14 at 5:06
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According to the film's official novelisation, Kirk was entirely aware of how the 'Genesis Wave' works and would therefore have had no fear of returning to orbit around the Genesis Planet.

The rest of the crew struggled to put more power to the impulse engines, knowing—they must know—that their efforts were useless. When the Genesis wave began, it would spread until it reached hard vacuum, engulfing and degrading every atom of matter within the Mutara Nebula, gas or solid, living or dead.

Since safety wasn't something that needed to be taken into account, his primary motivation for returning was because Spock's will requested that he not be returned to Vulcan, but disposed of in space. Presumably Kirk felt that burying him on Genesis would be appropriate given his interest in it.

Far too many of the stasis boxes radiated the faint blue glow that showed they were in operation. Protected by the stasis fields, the body of Peter Preston and the bodies of the other people who had died on this mission waited to be returned to their families.

But Captain Spock's will stated that he was not to be taken to Vulcan; his wishes would be respected.

His sealed coffin stood in the middle of the chamber. Saavik laid one hand against its sleek side. Her grief was so intense that she could react with neither rage nor tears.

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