In the Star Trek: Voyager pilot, The Caretaker, the Voyager gets stuck in the Delta Quadrant because they had to destroy the Caretaker's array, which was their only way back home. The explanation was that if they use it to go home, the Kazon would take it over in their absence and use its power to dominate the quadrant.

So why didn't Tuvok program the tri-cobalt device with a time delay circuit to blow the array after they go through? Federation warheads are highly programmable.

P.S. Obviously, I'm expecting a possible in-universe answer, not "because that'll be the end of the series".

  • 1
    Perhaps I am mis-remembering the sequence of events, but didn't they destroy the array in an attempt to get the Kazon to leave them alone? They could hardly spend their time investigating how to use the array to send themselves home while under attack.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 13:15
  • 4
    Because it was a Voyager conspiracy!
    – Jared
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 0:40

4 Answers 4


A few reasons:

  • With a time-delay, they can't be sure it went off as planned.
  • Related to the first reason, what if the Kazon were able to interfere with it or remove the charge before it exploded?
  • They can't be sure just how long the trip back will take. They don't have enough information to know if things like blackholes and wormholes and supernovae could change the timing of the trip home and the Voyager could be torn to pieces if the array blew up before they reached Federation space.
  • Related to all the others, it'd be quite tricky to set the timing to be long enough to ensure they made it home, but short enough that the Kazon can't disarm it.
  • What if activating the array disturbed time and space enough to mess with a timing device?

Put yourself in Janeway's captain's chair: If you set the tri-cobalt device to detonate after you get home, how long do you set it for? And can you be 100% sure that once you've departed, you'll have a smooth trip and it'll go off after you make it back and that nothing will go wrong once you're gone? And can you be sure that the Kazon, whom you've been fighting, won't manage to sabotage the tri-cobalt device?

The only sure way is to blow it up immediately, while you're there and can be sure it's gone.

Another point is that even a highly trained starship captain may not see every option open to them at every moment, especially in times of stress or battle. Their focus is survival and getting the job done, so other options may not have occurred to her at the time (but I don't consider this a likely explanation).

  • Bullet 3 seems like it had a bris Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 8:13
  • Set it for 3 seconds and run the wormhole at warp speed. The collapse won't catch up to you.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 3:29

Time pressure. Tuvok said he could access the program to send Voyager back to Federation space but it would take several hours to initiate. And that was before the Kazon ship hit the array and screwed things up further. With Kazon reinforcements coming, Janeway couldn't bet on holding the array long enough for Tuvok to get them home. If they couldn't hold the array, they might as well blow it to Kingdom Come and save the Ocampa.

  • When they were inside the array, didn't Tuvok say that the program was ready?
    – HNL
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 8:14
  • 2
    Tuvok said "Captain, I can access the system to send us back to Federation space, but it will take several hours to activate." Janeway then begged the Caretaker for help to speed up the process, but he declined, and then died.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 8:22
  • 1
    It seems you are correct. But it raises another question: Why didn't they leave the tri-cobalt device on board with a remote dead-man switch or a booby trap and fight the Kazon as long as possible? If their position were to become indefensible, they could have fled, leaving the array to blow on its own. This way, they could have at least had a chance at returning home.
    – HNL
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 10:40
  • 4
    Too many times the warp system has gone offline in the middle of a fight. If you wait until running is your only option, running might no longer be an option. Also, can you imagine goody two shoes Janeway laying a booby trap? Maybe by season seven, but not at the beginning of the series.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 15:35

As it has been said, it would have taken several hours to activate the program and get them home. Later after Janeway and Tuvok returned to Voyager, they were informed that more Kazon ships were approaching. They could not risk waiting for the program to be ready and end up with Kazon all over them before the program could send them back. They literally had no alternative, they barely took out one of the bigger Kazon ships and it required Chakotay to ram his ship into it. Voyager was also still damaged from its trip from the Alpha Quadrant to the Delta Quadrant, so either way you slice it, if they had waited, its very likely that they would have been surrounded before the program was ready.


Clearly Voyager (the name itself means deep space mission) was purposely sent to the Delta Quadrant, only Tuvok and Janeway know this. The mission is explore Delta Quadrant, establish relations with potential Federation candidates and if possible capture a borg or two.

  • 3
    Evidently you haven't viewed the series; their mission was not to explore the Delta Quadrant! Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 8:06
  • 4
    This was one of Seven's delusional fantasies in the episode The Voyager Conspiracy
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 8:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.