21

In "Course: Oblivion", the duplicate of Chakotay indicates that Voyager has not been traveling in a straight line. The most logical conclusion would be that they were traveling along one of the galactic arms in a kind of S pattern toward, and eventually away from, the galactic core. Alternatively, they could be traveling down an arm until they were close enough to Federation space to "make a run" across one of the "null" regions between two arms/spurs.

Either would make sense since they would need to stop for supplies, fuel, repairs, maintenance etc. and the best places to do that would be in areas where there were stars, planets and, hopefully, advanced civilizations.

In "The Gift", Kes throws Voyager "about 10 years" (9,500 LY) further along on their journey and safely past Borg space. In "Night", they find a wormhole that takes them to the other side of a 2,500 LY "void" in space (don't get me started) which should equate to at least another 2 years. In "Timeless", they use the slipstream drive and take another 10 years off their trip (somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 LY based on previous statements). Finally, in "Dark Frontier", they use a Borg transwarp coil to go another 20,000 LY, which Janeway oddly estimates to be 15 years (odd since up to now 1,000 LY = roughly 1 year).

Based on statements made on screen they should be about 42,000 LY further along by the middle of season 5 not including their normal progress which should, in itself, account for between 3,000 and 4,000 LY (since they like to stop and poke at stuff). That accounts for a great deal more than half of their trip by the middle of the 5th season.

Assumptions:

  • According to Memory Alpha, the Milky Way is 100,000 LY wide.
  • The Delta Quadrant borders the Beta Quadrant and the Gamma Quadrant but Voyager set a course for Earth, not the Idran system (Gamma Quadrant side of the Bajoran wormhole) which implied that would be a shorter trip.
  • The Beta Quadrant was mentioned a handful of times in the series, the Gamma Quadrant was (almost) never mentioned which implied they were going through the Beta Quadrant.
  • The would have to go from one border of the Beta Quadrant to the other.
  • Earth/The Sol System lies on the boundary between the Beta and Alpha Quadrant
  • The Caretaker array was closer to the Beta/Delta Quadrant boundary than the Delta/Gamma Quadrant boundary.

All of that said, shouldn't Voyager have crossed the boundary into the Beta Quadrant while they were using their stolen transwarp coil in "Dark Frontier" at the latest?

  • 14
    Because bad writing. – Valorum Jan 21 '15 at 23:03
  • 1
    I never did understand why they didn't head for the Gamma Quadrant wormhole, since Gamma was much closer than Alpha. – Remy Lebeau Apr 3 '15 at 2:15
  • 3
    @RemyLebeau You can find some Star Trek charts online showing where everything is in the galaxy. They are not all consistent, but the wormhole is usually shown on the far side of the Gamma quadrant and not much closer than Federation Space. And there is no guarantee it will still be there once you get there. – Dennis_E Sep 4 '15 at 11:43
  • 2
    @RemyLebeau Not to forget the still not too-well-known Dominion probably being considered more of a thread for passage than the Romulans, who might probably just have pressed for some bargain. – Zommuter Oct 3 '16 at 11:26
  • 3
    I always figured the Void in Night was exactly what you proposed as a reasonable path - hopping galactic arms – Izkata Dec 23 '16 at 6:12
29

The short answer is that they shouldn't have still been in the Delta Quadrant, but that would have dramatically conflicted with the average viewer's understanding of their situation.

In an interview with Ex-Astris-Scientia, Rick Sternbach (Star Trek Senior Illustrator and Technical Advisor) dealt with this specific question in a Q+A;

I can only guess that the writers simply wanted to keep only the Delta Quadrant in people's minds, without having to deal with anything new. They didn't deal with what I call "situational tech" like Voyager's location/trajectory terribly well, even with adequate explanations and diagrams.

Most trek nerds agree that since Janeway confirmed (in VOY: Renaissance Man) that the R'Kaal control "thousands of parsecs from here to the edge of the Beta Quadrant" and that since Voyager effectively jumped them (in VOY: Dark Frontier), that Voyager actually entered the Beta Quadrant at the end of season 5...

Janeway (V/O) : Captain's Log, Stardate 52619.2 : We got another 20,000 light-years out of the transwarp coil before it gave out.

... which places the entire 6th and 7th season in the Beta Quadrant.

  • 9
    Ah, the good old fashioned "people aren't smart enough" to figure out that a starship traveling faster than light will eventually be in a different place argument... – geewhiz Jan 21 '15 at 23:15
  • 7
    @geewhiz - That was the basis for the entire Kazon plotline. Eventually they decided that they'd simply left Kazon space and ditched the species entirely. – Valorum Jan 21 '15 at 23:24
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    To be honest, I was surprised that the Borg were such a major power in the Delta Quadrant. I always got the idea from TNG that the Enterprise was running into them either in Federation space or in the far reaches of the Beta Quadrant. – geewhiz Jan 22 '15 at 3:53
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    There are times that Voyager goes backwards... Interestingly though, we know that Voyager never enters Beta Quadrant because there is a major hostile civ on that border that is mentioned in the episode when the ship is fractured into multiple timelines. – Durakken Oct 3 '16 at 16:14
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    @Durakken - Indeed. And the implication is that they leapfrogged them when they used the Borg warp-coil. – Valorum Oct 3 '16 at 16:41
15

According to Star Trek canon the entirety of the Voyager trip was in the Delta Quadrant. See this scan from my copy of 'Star Trek Star Charts'.

USS Voyager

There are detailed maps for each of the seven seasons showing the route taken by Voyager. (I'm not going to scan those because of copyright reasons.) The route shown is very close to the straight line that runs between the Caretaker and Earth. Only S4 shows a significant veering away from that straight line.

The years correspond to the seasons: 2371 is S1, 2377 is S7. The final season takes place on the edge of de Beta Quadrant and (spoiler)

the final Borg Transwarp jump (in the alternate reality created by Old Janeway) skips all of the Beta Quadrant right to Earth.

kly = kilolightyear = 1,000 light years

Also, the locations of the Caretaker (~44 kly north and ~23 kly east of galactic centre), the Gamma Quadrant wormhole (~24 kly north, ~43 kly west) and Federation space (~26 kly south, 0 kly west) shows why a course for the Gamma Quadrant was not set. Distance to the wormhole is around 69 kly while distance to the Federation is around 74 kly. Those coordinates are from the maps, of course. Canon says the trip was 75 kly. A less than 10% detour seems not unreasonable for the psychological benefit of getting closer to home.

Having said that, it was known that the Delta Quadrant was the origin of the Borg. But Janeway also said she counted on getting new technology to shorten the trip's time. Could have been she planned on stealing that technology from the Borg.

(Which, in the end, she did.)

  • 3
    Notably, the "Star Trek: Star Charts" are not part of the accepted Star Trek canon. They're highly respected, but not considered to be on the same level as the TV shows, films, Technical Manuals and Encyclopedia. – Valorum Jun 18 '16 at 23:12
-1

Since you mention "Course: Oblivion" in your very first sentence, let me re-quote from another post:

Some of the episodes that we saw earlier in the season, was it that crew? Or was it the real crew? Ken Biller - Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 50

It makes sense that at least one of the two potential jumps actually happened to the clone Voyager ("The Gift" happened before "Demon", "Dark Frontier" apparently after "Course: Oblivion"), which might easily cancel 10,000 ly of claimed travel, or if the clones did the "Dark Frontier" jump, even 20,000 ly, which means (inferring from Valorum's answer) that indeed as Hans states Voyager might indeed just have reached the edge of the Beta Quadrant at the end...

  • Except that the writers were reasonably clear that none of the shows that we watched involved the cloned crew. They left it sorta open in a "The End?" kinda way, but not seriously. – Valorum Oct 3 '16 at 14:36
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    @Valorum At least to me, those quotes are not reasonably clear. And the almost-meeting of the clones with Voyager at the end requires the clones to (also) have jumped at some point. – Zommuter Oct 3 '16 at 14:40
  • Indeed. And what a fascinating voyage they must have had. But that doesn't mean we (the viewer) saw any part of it, aside from the end. – Valorum Oct 3 '16 at 14:47
  • @Valorum That I can agree with :D But neither does it mean we did not see any other part of it. Yes, officially there was no confirmation (nor denial) about this, especially no retcon, so your downvote is somehow understandable. – Zommuter Oct 3 '16 at 18:19
  • Given the lack of any evidence supporting the idea that it could have been the clones in any of those episodes, we have to assume it wasn't. AS far as the two ships almost meeting, the clone ship had an "enhanced" warp core that would cut dozens of years off their journey. This core, presumably allowed them to cross the Delta Quadrant very quickly and find the real Voyager in a few days but years behind – geewhiz Dec 24 '16 at 1:49
-4

The expansion of space itself moves quicker than light (in real life). This would most likely be the reason Voyager is not further along in their journey assuming of course that warp speed is slower than the expansion rate of space.

protected by Community Jul 17 at 21:05

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