In Tomorrow is Yesterday USAF Captain John Christopher was sitting in his pilot seat when he dematerialized, but materialized standing with his back to Captain Kirk. This happened when the Enterprise beamed him up from his F-104 fighter.

Is there a technical limit restricting the transporter from manipulating and reconfiguring people into different poses during transport? Can it pose you any way the operator wants?

Note usually people are somehow automatically facing forward, so there must be at least some technology which can rotate people to face forward. This one instance also happens to manipulate Captain Christopher's body as well.

  • For all intents and purposes, this has been answered in the subtext of the answers from In Star Trek, does the transporter conserve the momentum of transported objects?.
    – user62584
    Oct 13, 2019 at 0:04
  • Transporter: The transporter was a subspace device capable of almost instantaneously transporting an object from one location to another, by using matter-energy conversion to transform matter into energy, then beaming it to or from a chamber where it is reconverted back into its original pattern. Well, I know that much at least.
    – user62584
    Oct 13, 2019 at 2:45
  • 2
    Ambasaador Troi beams onto the ship one time facing the wrong direction and is very confused. Jury is out if she did that on purpose as an affectation or if she really was turned around from one pad to the other –
    – NKCampbell
    Oct 15, 2019 at 22:14

2 Answers 2


The transporter seems remarkably clever at finding out where the shoes end and the soil begins, and to take one but not the other.

But there are plenty of examples of crouching or huddled characters getting beamed back in that posture, or for that matter characters taking a defensive formation before beaming out.

For that reason I would call this a special effects failure -- transporters generally preserve posture, but it was not practical to have the poor captain land on his posterior because the seat wasn't transported along. A bit like the increasingly less goofy Andorian antennae, or some aspects of the evolving Klingon makeup. Of course the Klingons were so noticeable that they dropped some retcon lines about that.

  • 2
    In TNG S07E22 (Bloodlines), Jason Vigo gets beamed to the Enterprise's transporter pad while spelunking and arrives in a fairly precarious position where he stumbles but remains on his feet.
    – user62584
    Oct 13, 2019 at 5:38
  • It's not very difficult for the transporter to know where the shoes end and the soil begins: the sensors can make the difference between the leather of the shoes and the dirt that makes the ground, and take one but not the other.
    – Sava
    Oct 16, 2019 at 9:02

There is apparently little technical limits to what the transporter can do to whatever is being transported.

According to the various books, manuals and several episodes, it has a biological scanner (biofilter) that is able to filter out known harmful pathogens from one's body during transport, thus we know it is able to act at a cellular level.

It can alter what's in transit seemingly easily, like the many times that weapons have been deactivated during transport, or even outright never rematerialized.

It can also apparently fuse people together without killing them, like when Tuvok and Neelix got fused together in Tuvix (VOY S02E24), split someone's personality and create two copies of the same person then reintegrates them together, like what happened to Kirk in The Enemy Within (TOS S01E04), and get a baby out of it's mother's womb (VOY S02E21 Deadlock).

Thus, manipulating one's body during transport seems to be quite trivial most of the time.

We can only assume that the fact that people retain the same position before and after transport has more to do with a psychological thing, as it would be quite confusing to materialize standing up if you were sitting right before, for example, than any technical limit.

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