I saw the question about the landing gear on the Enterprise from TOS (Did the Original Enterprise Have Landing Gear?) and it made me wonder: are all (or any) of the Constitution/Galaxy class starships capable of landing? For example, if they have lost all of their shuttles and the magnetic field around the planet won't allow transportation.

I mean some standard procedure, not a crash landing like we saw in Star Trek: Generations.

  • 1
    The landing structures in both are to help with crash-landing, not landing
    – Valorum
    Apr 27, 2014 at 7:56

4 Answers 4


No, neither the Constitution Class starship, nor the Galaxy Class starship are designed to land, except in extreme circumstances where a landing would be characterised as a catastrophic crash-landing.

Constitution Class Emergency procedures;

The best semi-canon "emergency landing procedures" for the Constitution-class Starship are detailed in "Mr Scott's Guide to the Enterprise".

Much of G Deck, in a wide area encircling the level. does not attain full ceiling height. This is due to the underside concave structure of the primary hull. This area houses cargo, the food synthesis system, the saucer's life support, air conditioning, and battery systems, pump machinery, port and starboard fresh water tanks, and the ship's sanitary wastes recovery unit.

It is also this area in which the Enterprise's four massive emergency landing legs are mounted. These units are stewed retracted, filling a bay which carries up to F Deck. Extension of the landing legs allows the primary hull to safely make planetfall following hull separation.

The implication is that the secondary hull parts (including main engineering, the warp engine and the stardrive elements and nacelles, etc) are explosively ejected. The ship then extends "Emergency Landing Legs" that will be used stabilise the primary hull (the saucer section) on landing. The saucer would either be abandoned, destroyed or taken back into space by another Federation vessel depending on the potential for violating the Prime Directive.

The semi-canon book, the USS Enterprise Officer's Manual (written by Geoffrey Mandel, senior Production Artist for various trek films and TV shows) offers this description of the emergency landing procedures for the Constitution-class saucer section:

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Galaxy Class Emergency Procedures;

These can be found in the canon sourcebook; "The TNG Technical Manual";

Emergency Landing TNG

Again, the secondary hull would be separated (in this case using the "Saucer Separation sequence") and the saucer would then use a mixture of shields and structural fields to prevent its occupants from suffering severe injuries on impact.

This sequence, originally planned for the TV series but shelved due to the extreme cost was ultimately seen in the film 'Generations';

Other sources;

In the non-canon Trek book "Rogue Saucer", the Enterprise is outfitted with new (experimental) saucer section that can supposedly survive a landing;

“I’m glad to hear you say that, Captain.” Admiral Nechayev leaned across the table and stared at him with cold, hazel eyes. “You wanted a chance to redeem yourself? Starfleet is not pleased by the fact that emergency-landing a saucer section badly damages it in every scenario we’ve tested. So we’ve built a prototype saucer section with improved forcefields and dampening fields, in the hope that it can survive atmospheric reentry, land, and be relaunched.

“The prototype has special thrusters that can lift it into the atmosphere, where a tractor beam from an orbiting ship can pull it into orbit. Theoretically, the hull section could resurrect its own saucer section from the planet’s surface. If this proves successful, we won’t risk leaving all that valuable technology behind for indigenous people to dig up.”

Suffice to say, it's unsuccessful.

  • 5
    Those inertia dampeners will never seize to surprise me in their selectiveness. A ship can accelerate to full impulse (maybe some 200000 km/s) without anyone feeling anything. It hits a rock, slowing it down by maybe 20 kph and all of the crew is tossed around like dominos. Fascinating!
    – Einer
    Apr 27, 2014 at 10:41
  • 4
    @Einer - I'd guess it's a matter of predictability. When the ship is accelerating, the control systems could easily feed into the inertial dampeners to give them warning of what's about to happen. But a rapid/unexpected change (as in an impact or an emergency maneuver at the limits of capability of the ship) would make it harder for them to react quickly enough.
    – Jules
    Apr 27, 2014 at 13:06
  • @Jules: I always imagined that it was impact/energy damage that caused the inertial dampers and gravity plating to momentarily malfunction. The ship is protected from massive accelerations, but if it slams into rock or gets hit with phasers, it's still going to take damage in those areas, which could manifest symptoms in any of the computerized systems, including intertial dampers. Apr 27, 2014 at 15:01
  • Twice you use nacelles (the sticky-uppy parts) when you appear to mean the entire engineering/drive section of the ship. Nov 25, 2017 at 22:19
  • @Xavon_Wrentaile - better?
    – Valorum
    Nov 25, 2017 at 22:26

Not that I've ever heard. Voyager was one of the few if not the only one that had the capability to land.

I've never read that any others could land as they were generally too big and simply never designed to land on a planet. That is why they had the transporters, shuttles, etc.

The Constitution class ships could separate the saucer section from the warp drive as Kirk even mentioned in a original episode. In theory it's possible that the saucer section could possibly land on a planet.. but not while it's in it's normal, all together configuration.


If I recall correctly, the original Constitution Class Enterprise was originally going to have the capability to land on a planet. Gene Roddenberry felt that it might cost too much to land the ship every week and this is why transporter technology was invented. But knowing this, it is possible that the original Enterprise and any other class ship would have this capability, although we never actually get to see a ship other than Voyager actually land on a planet surface.

We did see in the 2009 movie that the Enterprise was being constructed on land rather then in space, this also points to the possibility that Federation ships had the capability to land on the surface.

  • 1
    Also in the TNG technical manual referenced above there's also talk about the rational of the transporter in TOS was to allow a quick transition to the story. So think of the similar timeframe Thunderbirds which spent a good few minutes showing essentially the same launch sequences every episode. Aug 11, 2016 at 2:30
  • 2
    You may want to note that the Enterprise is actually landed in the second film in the Abramsverse, albeit landed in water.
    – Valorum
    Aug 11, 2016 at 11:41
  • This points to that the NEW enterprise probably is capable of landing (at least atmospheric flight is explicitely possible as shown multiple times. Landing could or could not as water is different than a hard gorund). But no explicite proof.
    – Thomas
    Aug 11, 2016 at 14:40

The saucer sections of the Constitution and Galaxy class ships could land, but not the main body. There are a couple of books (one was Enterprise, can't recall the other) where the saucer section of the Enterprise (1701) was detached and landed on the Earth for the purposes of a refit. The reason was described that workers could work much faster in a full gravity environment.

The Galaxy class ships were listed as having the saucer section capable of landing in one of the technical manuals.

  • 1
    Land or crash land? I don't recall ever seeing landing struts/gear on the saucer section of either class. Apr 27, 2014 at 6:26

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