- "Transporting really is the safest way to travel."
- - Geordi La Forge (TNG|Realm of Fear)
|A Galaxy-class transporter pad, circa 2369|
The transporter is a subspace device capable of almost instantaneously moving an object from one location to another. Transporters are able to dematerialize, transmit and reassemble an object. The act of transporting is often referred to as "beaming."
Transporters have been used by many civilizations throughout history but the first Human-made transporter was invented by Emory Erickson sometime prior to 2121, with the first operable transporter being developed before 2139. When the transporter was in its infancy there was much controversy surrounding its safety and reliability within United Earth. The debates ranged from health issues and even to metaphysical debates over whether or not the person transported was the same person or a clone, replacing the original.
A fact commonly perceived as a continuity error is that, in TNG|The Masterpiece Society, the Human colonists on Moab IV appeared to be stunned by transporter technology, despite the fact that their colony was founded "200 years ago". Taking this rather vague statement exactly, it would mean that the inhabitants of Moab IV did not know of the technology in 2168, 30 years after standard-transporters must have been invented and 15 years after they were frequently used on the Enterprise (NX-01). However, it is absolutely reasonable to assume that the 200-years statement was an approximation, meaning the colony could have easily been founded 210 or 215 years ago. In addition to that, it is possible that the founders of the colony left Earth another 10 or 15 years earlier, at a time the Human public was still not aware of this brand new technology.
- Furthermore, in TAS|The Terratin Incident, the colonists who settled Terra 10 had knowledge of transporter mechanisms a full two centuries before the year 2269. They probably didn't have a working transporter back in 2069, but developed it independently later on. It would otherwise be inconsistent with what is established in ENT|Daedalus.
The Enterprise (NX-01) was one of the first Starfleet starships to be equipped with a transporter authorized for transporting biological objects, though it was rarely utilized due to the newness of the technology. Its use became common during Enterprise's search of theDelphic Expanse, mainly due to its usefulness in this dangerous sector of space.
These early transporters were not very reliable and even after Enterprise's mission, most were authorized for non-biological transports only. Even when transporter use became commonplace, most Humans and other species at a similar stage of technological development preferred traditional methods of travel.
With the advent of safer transporters, biological transport became increasingly common, which led to the appearance of the first transporter-related diseases. The best known disease was Transporter psychosis which was diagnosed in 2209. (TNG|Realm of Fear)
As Starfleet and its successor, the Federation Starfleet, continued their exploration of space, dependence on transporters grew significantly. Transporters could simplify away missions considerably by eliminating the need for a shuttlecraft. In case of emergencies, medical or otherwise, the time saved could mean the difference between life or death. (ENT|Strange New World)
Transporters became the most reliable form of short-range transport by the 24th century. Innovations in transporter technology around this time included safer site-to-site transport, which allowed for transport between two locations without first returning to a transporter room. By the 29th century, Starfleet had developed temporal transporter technology that allowed travel through time in a very similar manner to standard transporters of earlier centuries. (ENT|Shockwave) Another example of this is where the Federation Timeship Relitivity has to go back in time to stop a sabeteur from destroying USS Voyager. (VOY|Relitivity)
The basic principles behind Federation transporters didn't differ from those of other species although they had a distinctive blue color.
By the 24th century, most space faring civilizations of the Alpha Quadrant|Alpha and Beta Quadrants employed transporter technology for short-range transport of personnel and equipment. There were many advantages to utilizing transporters.
On a planetary scale, small vehicles and spacecraft were no longer required to travel between locations. Traveling by transporter was essentially instantaneous and an individual's sense of time while transporting was effectively non-existent. Benjamin Sisko and Harry Kim, while training at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, frequently transported to New Orleans and South Carolina, respectively, to see their parents. (DS9|Explorers; VOY|Non Sequitur)
In general, a transporter chief was responsible for the operational readiness, maintenance and repair of a ship or station's transporter systems. By the 24th century, transporter systems could also be operated from computer terminals other than those in transporter rooms.
Furthermore, emergency transporter armbands, transponders and combadges could be programmed to remotely activate a transporter. Normally, remote transporter activation was limited to emergencies or when the crew of a vessel was not on board. (TNG|The Best of Both Worlds|Realm of Fear; DS9|The Jem'Hadar)
A typical transport sequence began with a coordinate lock, during which the destination was verified and programmed, via the targeting scanners. Next, the lifeform or object to be beamed was scanned on the quantum level using a molecular imaging scanner.
At this point, Heisenberg compensators take into account the position and direction of all subatomic particles composing the object or individual and create a map of the physical structure being disassembled amounting to billions of kiloquads of data.
Simultaneously, the object is converted into subatomic particles, also called the matter stream. The matter stream is briefly stored in a pattern buffer while the system compensates for Doppler shift to the destination.
The matter stream is then transmitted to its destination via a subspace frequency. As with any type of transmission of energy or radiation, scattering and degradation of the signal must be monitored closely. The annular confinement beam (ACB) acts to maintain the integrity of the information contained in the beam. Finally, the initial process is reversed and the object or individual is reassembled at the destination.
From its earliest incarnations, and continuing until some time between the early 2270s and mid 2280s, transporters generally immobilized the subject being beamed during dematerialization and rematerialization. Advances in transporter technology after that point allowed a person being transported to move during the process in a limited fashion.
- With perhaps one or two exceptions, every instance of transporter use shown in ENT, TOS, and TAS showed a "suspended subject". This held true for Star Trek: the Motion Picture as well. Beginning with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, transport subjects were shown being able to engage in limited movements, and even conversation while in transport.
Safety features, protocols and components
As with other Starfleet technology, the transporter had its own set of safety features, protocols and procedures. In an emergency, many of these safety systems could be modified or circumvented.
One safety feature protected the transport subject to a certain degree from external influences once the dematerialization process had begun. This protection extended to both high energy discharges (such as energy weapons fire) and physical incursions (such as projectile weapons fire). (ENT|Broken Bow; TOS|Bread and Circuses; film|6; TNG|A Matter of Perspective|The Most Toys)
Such protection was not infallible, however, particularly in the earlier models of transporter. "Foreign matter" could get caught up in the transport process and become embedded or integrated into the subject. (ENT|Strange New World).
Biofilters were uniformly used on all Federation transporters by the 24th century. These filters functioned to decontaminate transported objects and prevent harmful substances, pathogens, and even certain forms of radiation (including theta radiation), from contaminating the rest of the ship. (VOY|Macrocosm|Night)
Though biofilters performed a general contaminate removal with each transport, some novel contaminate removal required specific calibration in order for the filters to be effective. As such, biofilters were incapable of filtering out certain types of substances and pathogens, most notably psychic energy. (TNG|Lonely Among Us|Power Play)
Biofilters were also unable to detect and filter certain types of phased reality lifeforms without prior calibration. Biofilters also functioned to detect and disable weapons and explosives (remat detonators). (TNG|Realm of Fear|The Schizoid Man)
Additionally pattern buffers were used to compensate for relative motion during transport, ensuring that transported matter materialized in the correct location.
Except in cases of extreme emergency, protocols prohibited transporting objects while traveling at warp speed. (TNG|The Schizoid Man)
Diagnostic and maintenance tools
- Magneton scanner
- Parametric scanner
- Synchronic meter
- Test cylinder
- Annular confinement beam
- Heisenberg compensator
- Molecular imaging scanner
- Pattern buffer
- Phase transition coil
- Primary energizing coils
- Site-to-site transport interlock
- Targeting scanner
- Transporter console
Almost all Starfleet facilities and starships were equipped with at least one transporter device. The number of transporter devices differed; for example, most shuttlecraft had one transporter while ShipClass|Galaxy starships had twenty. (TNG|11001001)
When cargo bays were present, these often contained cargo transporters.
The visual effects of transporter beams varied among the types used by different species of the galaxy, and the different models of transporter.
23rd century Federation transporters during the 2260s showed a shower of golden "sparkles" during materialization and dematerialization. Klingon units during the same time emitted a solid golden "haze" effect.
By the 2280s, both races utilized transporters that appeared to utilize a "wave" effect. The Federation's being blue and the Klingons with golden yellow.
24th century Federation transporters emit a distinct blue/white "sparkle" when used. Klingon transporters show a red/orange sparkle and Romulan transporters a green sparkle. Cardassian and Ferengi showed red/orange "swirls" of energy. Borg showed green "swirls" of energy.
Another difference was the speed by which a transporter operates. Compared to transporters used by the Hunters, a Gamma Quadrant species, in 2369, the Federation transporter was slow. (DS9|Captive Pursuit) Ferengi transporters were even slower because they used capacitors to build up their beam energy. (TNG|The Battle)
Furthermore, each type of transporter beam had a distinctive sound pattern associated with it. Along with differences in "tone," the volume of the sound also varied. Klingon transporters in the 2260s, for example, were completely silent.
Production of Mark V transporters was halted in 2356. By 2371, Mark VI transporters were considered outdated. Mark VII transporters were able to transport biomatter, as long as the phase transition inhibitor was adjusted. (DS9|Family Business)
The most commonly used type of transporter was the personnel transporter, designed primarily for personnel.
Personnel transporter rooms usually consisted of a transporter console, a transporter platform with an overhead molecular imaging scanner, primary energizing coils, and phase transition coils.
A pattern buffer with a biofilter is located on the deck below the room. The outer hull of a starship incorporated a number of emitter pads for the transporter beam.
Personnel transporters work on the quantum level and employ Heisenberg compensators to enable secure transport of lifeforms. Biofilters built into the transporter systems prevent dangerous microorganisms from boarding the ship.
Transporter platforms had a variable number of pads, arranged in various layouts (by model and by manufacturing race):
The transporters installed on Earth's NX-class starships featured one large circular pad that took up the entire platform. It was large enough to transport 2-3 people provided they stood close together.
By the 23rd century, Federation transporter platforms featured multiple independent pads, typically six in a hexagonal configuration. One- and two-pad platforms were also available.
This would become something of a standard layout for Federation transporters well into the next century. As an example, the platforms used on board Galaxy starships had the familiar six individual pads with an oversized pad in the center of the platform that could handle small cargo.
The model of transporter installed on board Defiant starships featured a circle platform and three personnel pads in a triangular formation.
Some 23rd century Klingon platforms featured 6 hexagonal pads in a straight line. Others, such as those on Birds of Prey, featured a small number of platforms in a tight group. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Cardassian transporter pads in the 24th century featured three to five triangular pads placed close together, such as those installed on Deep Space 9.
The personnel transporter was a reliable but sometimes fragile piece of equipment. The phase coils in particular were vulnerable to feedback patterns and could be severely damaged as result of power surges or low-level phaser fire.
Cargo transporters were larger scale versions of personnel transporters and were optimized for the transport of inanimate objects.
In case of an emergency, cargo transporters could be reset to quantum-level mode, making lifeform transport possible. These transporters were adapted to handle massive quantities of material. (TNG|Up The Long Ladder)
Cargo transporters were also specialized for transporting hazardous material and were mostly found inside the cargo bay of a starship or space station. (TNG|Evolution)
Dedicated cargo transporter platforms used by Starfleet in the 24th century typically featured one large circular or oblong pad. Some had additional standard-size "personal" pads as well.
Emergency transporters are a special type that can only beam someone from a ship or space station, not the other way around. Emergency transporters have a low power requirement; in case of a shipwide power failure, the crew could use these transporters for emergency evacuation. (TNG Technical Manual)
- In older technical manuals and other non-canon background materials, these are sometimes referred to as "evacuation" transporters or "combat" transporters. Typically, they are said to be platforms with a dozen or more pads each. In addition to emergency evacuation, they are used in any high-volume movement of personnel, such as in troop deployment.
By the late 24th century, emergency transport was further improved through development of a single-person, single-use, one-way emergency transport unit. The device was small enough to be hand-held and could transport to specified coordinates with a single touch.
Because of its extreme limitations, this device was not widely deployed and was still considered a prototype in 2379. (Star Trek: Nemesis)
Certain species have experimented with transporters that differ in technology and theory than those used by most species encountered by the Federation.
The Sikarians were known to use a folded-space transporter, relying on dimensional shifting rather than matter-to-energy conversion. Similarly, the Iconians perfected their own form of transport known as Iconian gateways which were capable of near instantaneous transport over vast distances. (VOY|Prime Factors; TNG|Contagion)
- Folded-space transporter
- Multidimensional transporter device
- Sub-quantum teleportation
- Temporal transporter
Although beaming is quick, it has its limits. A person cannot stay within the matter stream too long. If this happens, his or her molecular pattern would degrade and the transporter signal would be lost.
This signal must stay above fifty percent to be able to re-materialize the person. A time-frame of around 90 seconds was about the maximum before that fifty percent signal loss was reached. (TNG|Realm of Fear)
The crew of USS Voyager was able to extend this time by using pattern enhancers. In an effort to transport refugee telepaths to another world, Captain Kathryn Janeway was able to hide many telepaths, in addition to a few of her crew, in the pattern buffer|transporter buffers. This process is referred to as transporter suspension.
However, this process produced serious complications. Because Voyager's guests and crew had to hide from Devorian authorities repeatedly over the course of several weeks, acute cellular degradation was found in many of the refugees and in Tuvok.
Although The Doctor was able to treat them, the degradation is cumulative. If the process is continued, the person may not survive the transport. (VOY|Counterpoint)
The longest recorded instance of a person remaining in transporter suspension was that of Captain Montgomery Scott, who was also able to survive for a period of 75 years while suspended in an extensively modified transporter buffer. (TNG|Relics)
In general, transporters could not be used while the deflector shield of a ship was active, or a deflector shield was in place over the destination. However, it was possible to take advantage of EM "windows" that were created by the normal rotation of shield frequencies. During these periods, a hole opened through which a transporter beam could pass. To use this window, timing needed to be absolute and usually required substantial computer assistance. This technique was theorized and first practiced in 2367 by USS Enterprise-D transporter chief Miles O'Brien. (TNG|The Wounded)
Magnetic shields could also be used to prevent beaming. Rura Penthe was protected by such a shield to prevent prisoners from escaping. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
There was a type of shielding that allowed transport, although it had the limitation of not allowing phasers to be fired through it. (TOS|The Return of the Archons)
The limitation of transporters versus shields was not universal, however. The Aldeans were able to pass through their own shielding using transporters, though the shielding was impenetrable to other forms of technology and weapons. Similarly, both the Borg and Dominion used transporter technology that was able to penetrate standard Federation shielding. Some adaptations, including rotating shield frequencies, could inhibit this ability but not eliminate it altogether. (TNG|Q Who; DS9|The Jem'Hadar)
Transporters were not allowed to be used while a ship was at warp speed because of the severe spatial distortions caused by its warp field. (TNG|The Schizoid Man) Transport at warp was highly dangerous and had been attempted safely only a handful of times. (TNG|The Best of Both Worlds|The Emissary) There were, however, ways to circumvent this limitation.
- If both ships maintained exact velocity (i.e. the warp field on both vessels must have the same integral value/factor) transport at warp speed was possible. Failure to maintain the same velocities would result in severe loss of the annular confinement beam (ACB) and pattern integrity.
- If the ship was traveling at warp speed and the object to be beamed was stationary, transport was possible by synchronizing the ACB with the warp core frequency. This would cause difficulties in obtaining a good pattern lock. The Maquis were known to have used this method. (VOY|Maneuvers)
"Near-warp" transport was also possible, but required extensive adjustments to the transport procedure. It involved the transporting ship energizing its transporters at the same time as it dropped out of warp for just long enough for the matter stream to be transmitted. The ship would then immediately jump back into warp.
Persons who had experienced this form of transport remarked that there was a sensation of being merged with an inanimate object briefly before the transporter beam reassembled them. (TNG|The Schizoid Man)
- Near-warp transport has also been referred to as "touch-and-go downwarping".
In 2374, Voyager personnel successfully used Intrepid transporters to beam stranded crewmembers from the USS Dauntless while both ships were traveling within a quantum slipstream. Voyager accelerated on a pursuit course during the transport, bypassing the velocity limitations imposed by warp field dynamics. (VOY|Hope and Fear)
- Based on Voyager's launch date, presumably an unmodified Mark VII transporter was used for transport at quantum slipstream velocities.
During the 22nd century, standard Earth transporter systems had a range of 10,000 kilometers; however, by the 24th century, standard transporter systems maximum range was about 40,000 kilometers, though a special type of transport, called subspace transporter|subspace transport could beam over several light years. (ENT|Rajiin; TNG|A Matter Of Honor|Bloodlines) Many 24th century starships were equipped with an emergency transporter system, but these only had a range of at best ten kilometers. (VOY|Future's End)
Although having a maximum range of about 40,000 kilometers, some conditions adversely affect the effective range. In at least one instance – due to missing components of Voyagers primary computer systems, – the starship Voyager had to be within 500 kilometers of a planet's surface to use transporters on Kathryn Janeway and the hologram character Leonardo da Vinci. (VOY|Concerning Flight)
- For context, 500 kilometers above the surface of Earth would place the ship inside the ionosphere.
The maximum range of a transporter differs per species, depending on what kind of technologies they've used to build it. The transporter with the longest known range is that of the Sikarians, with a range of about 40,000 light years; however this was due to their planet's large quartz mantle which amplifies their transporter signal. Because of this, Sikarian transporter technology works only on Sikaris|their planet. (VOY|Prime Factors)
Gary Seven's mysterious sponsors possessed transporter technology with a range of at least a thousand light-years according to Spock. Scotty later noted that Seven's beam was so powerful it fused all of recording circuits, and therefore he could not say exactly how far it transported Seven, or even whether it transported him through time. Exactly how they achieved this effect remains unknown, since there has been no subsequent contact with them, and they hide their entire homeworld in some fashion. There were, however, other indications that their technology was considerably advanced beyond what that of the 23rd century Federation. (TOS|Assignment: Earth)
Dominion transporter technology, enhanced with a homing transponder, was said to have a range of at least three light years. (DS9|Covenant)
Radiation and substances
Some forms of radiation and substances, usually minerals such as kelbonite, prevented transporters from working. In most instances the interference was caused by scattering of the annular confinement beam or sensor interference preventing a transporter lock. Interference could be natural or artificial and usually occurred during surface-to-starship transport but might also occur between vessels. Examples of other radiation and substance limitations are:
- Thoron radiation
- Dampening field
- Ion storm|Ionic interference
- Hyperonic radiation
- Electromagnetic storm
Over the centuries numerous devices have been designed to overcome some limitations of transporters, and still others to intentionally interfere with transporters.
By the 24th century, usage of pattern enhancers was common aboard most Starfleet vessels, most often deployed to a planet's surface during emergency situations where transport was critical.
Devices that were specifically designed to block transporter signals or to interfere with them were usually deployed under hostile conditions, thus making use of a transporter impossible or very dangerous and hampering maneuverability of personnel or material. Some of these devices were:
- Transporter scrambler
- Transport inhibitor
- Remat detonator
- Scattering field
In 2375, Vedek Fala, gave a small crystal to Colonel Kira Nerys as a gift. The device, of unknown origin and design, was actually a homing transporter tag, which instantly transported her to Empok Nor several light years distant. (DS9|Covenant)
Also, in 2293, Spock used a viridium patch to locate and lock on to Captain James T. Kirk and Dr. Leonard McCoy on Rura Penthe. While not a transporter device, it was used to locate the subject with the transporter. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Although someone with minor injuries could be transported, this was not possible when the injuries were extensive. When the brain stem was damaged and autonomic functions were failing, transport was only possible if a volunteer controlled the person's autonomic functions. This was done by placing a neural pad at the base of the skull of both individuals and then connect both people via a medical tricorder. This way autonomic functions could be stabilized for a short period of time and made transport possible. (TNG|Transfigurations)
Disabling active weapons
By the 24th century, the transporter had the capability to disable any active weapon during transport. This could be accomplished by removing the discharged energy from the transporter signal (TNG|Datalore); by deactivating the weapon (TNG|The Most Toys); or by removing the weapon from the matter stream entirely so its holder rematerialized without it, which could be accomplished by implementing Transporter protocol 5 (DS9|To the Death).
Connecting two transporters
When necessary transporters could be bridged, Federation vessels could activate other Federation vessels' transporters remotely. This meant that two transporters could be connected to each other in the event beaming was not possible due to ionic or some other type of interference.
The transport duration was twice as long and the sequence differed from a normal transport. First a remote link to the other transporter had to be established, then the system interlock needed to be engaged and the pattern buffers of both transporters were synchronized. When the phase transition coils were in stand-by mode energizing could commence.
A side-effect of this form of transport might be that the person who was beamed might feel a slight tingling due to static. (TNG|Realm of Fear)
In the mid 2260s, beaming from a transporter pad to a location within the same vessel was a very risky proposition. The limitations of the technology at that time made it highly probable that any error would result in the subject rematerializing within a bulkhead, deck, or other structure. (TOS|Day of the Dove) Oddly, this procedure was used without incident a century earlier. (ENT|Chosen Realm) Commander Riker and Tasha Yar used this operation during a rescue. (TNG|Symbiosis) When cargo instead of passengers was beamed aboard, Riker tells Yar to beam the cargo to the hold without a second thought.
- Why this would be the case is not known. A technology capable of transporting a subject over thousands of kilometers without error should be able to do so over a few dozen meters easily, though one could speculate that the emitters are focused away from the ship, as shown in the technical manuals.
- From the writing standpoint of the episode itself, though, if such capability did exist, then it would have been an easy matter to free the trapped crewmen in the lower decks.
The earliest example of site-to-site transport carried out by Federation personnel occurred in 2286. A HMS Bounty|Klingon vessel stolen by the crew of the late starship Enterprise had site-to-site transporter capabilities. (Star Trek: Insurrection)
By 2364, limitations in pattern buffer and targeting scanner technology had been sufficiently overcome that it was now possible to transport from one location directly to another without the need to re-materialize the subject in between. This operation was enabled and controlled by the site-to-site transport interlocks. (TNG|Brothers)
Site-to-site transport holds the matter stream in the pattern buffer while the ACB was re-targeted. Afterwards, the matter stream was redirected to the new location and normal re-materialization was carried out.
Using this technique, any computer terminal with access to the main transporter sub-systems, or any applicable subroutine, could be used to control transporter operations, including bridge terminals. This technique could only be utilized when sufficient energy was available to the transporters; all normal transporter limitations would still apply. (Star Trek: Nemesis)
This procedure was particularly useful in emergency medical situations where time is of the essence. Subjects could be beamed directly to sickbay where treatment could be carried out quickly. (Star Trek: Insurrection)
Ensign Wesley Crusher used this method in an attempt to outrun those (especially Riker and Worf) who were taken over by the Risa/Ktarian Mind Game. (TNG|The Game)
By the 24th century, it was common practice to store a "transporter trace" (a stored copy of a subject's molecular pattern as scanned during a normal transporter cycle). While it is usually kept for security purposes, in extreme situations the transporter could be modified to use an older trace pattern in place of the latest scan for the purpose of re-configuring the matter stream during molecular conversion, effectively replacing a subject with a younger version of itself during matter re-construction. This technique was first used to restore Captain Jean-Luc Picard after an unsuccessful attempt by an alien energy being to merge with him. (TNG|Lonely Among Us)
When necessary, a person's DNA could be used to create a transporter trace. This technique was utilized by Chief Miles O'Brien and Lieutenant Geordi La Forge during a mission to the Darwin Genetic Research Station in 2365.
The transporter trace itself would be stored for the duration of the person's tour of duty; when that person was reassigned, his or her trace would be deleted.(TNG|Unnatural Selection)
When comparing the transporter ID traces of Deanna Troi, Data and Miles O'Brien before and after they were taken over by Ux-Mal criminals, Doctor Crusher was able to detect that their nervous systems were generating high levels of synapse|synaptic and anionic energy. (TNG|Power Play)
Deflecting the transporter beam
A transporter beam could be deflected to different coordinates by a tractor beam so that the objects being transported would rematerialize at a point other than the intended target coordinates. Such action could only be detected by examining the transporter log. An unusual amount of antigraviton particles would be present in the emitter coil, as those particles do not occur naturally but are used by tractor beams. Locating the coordinates at which rematerialization took place was not possible; however, it was possible to calculate the point of origin of the tractor beam itself. (TNG|Attached)
Single person transport
A transporter could be programmed to only allow one particular person to be transported to and from the transporter pad. Thus programmed, no other persons could use the transporter. If the use of the transporter was further prohibited, by use of an unknown access code, using the transporter was almost impossible.
The only way to circumvent this lock-out was to use the transporter trace from the person who re-programmed the transporter and to input this into the transporter while it was in its testing mode. When in testing mode, a transporter would accept simulated inputs.
When the main computer could not be used, several tricorders could be networked together to control the transporter. To circumvent the lock-out, access codes from a few bridge officers were necessary to force it in a recall loop. So, everyone who would beam down would be seen by the transporter as the person who re-programmed it in the first place. (TNG|Brothers)
Faking a transporter accident
A transporter accident could be faked in such a way that a transporter chief would think a person died during transport. For example, this could be done by adjusting the carrier wave of a second transporter to the carrier wave of the first. The person would then beam off the first transporter while the second transporter beamed in a small amount of genetically identical material.
Only a doctor could determine if this material was really the person in question. The transporter trace could be used to compare the logged DNA pattern "trace" to the "dead" person. Single-bit errors might be detected if the "dead" material was replicator|replicated.
Only transporters that operate on the same subspace frequency as the spoofed transporter can be used for this type of ruse. For example, some Romulan transporters were capable of this.
Another indicator of such a ruse would be a temporary increase of the matter to energy ratio while transport was in progress. However, this increase could fall with in the nominal operational parameters of the transporter in question. Investigation of the transporter logs would be necessary to find evidence of a second transporter signal. (TNG|Data's Day)
Emergency mass beaming
Some transporters can transport large numbers of people, and either rematerialize them simultaneously, or in groups. However, this is not often done due to safety reasons. In 2268, the crew of the USSEnterprise NCC-1701 used their transporters in this manner to capture members of the crew of a Klingon ship. In 2377, the USS Voyager transported over two hundred Klingons off a battle cruiser by expanding the transporter's buffer capacity. (TOS|Day of the Dove; VOY|Prophecy)
Though transporters were a quite safe way to get from one point to another there were still cases of transporter accidents:
Rocks embedded in skin
In 2151, Ensign Ethan Novakovich was beamed back from the face of a planet later known as Archer IV by the still-experimental transporter system aboard the Enterprise (NX-01)|Enterprise NX-01. The emergency transport was attempted during a fierce windstorm. Upon arrival, he was unconscious and had rocks, leaves and other debris from the planet's surface embedded in his skin.
Phlox was able to remove the debris and repair the rather extensive damage, and Novakovich was expected to fully recover. (ENT|Strange New World)
Split one entity into good and evil entities
In 2266, a strange ore had altered the function of the transporter, causing one of the most bizarre transporter accidents on record, in which Captain James T. Kirk was split into two separate entities.
One man embodied all of Kirk's so-called positive qualities and the other embodied all of his "evil" qualities. It was some time before the mishap was discovered, and the malignant version of Kirk roamed the ship, stealing liquor, assaulting crewmen, and even attempting to rape Yeoman Janice Rand.
When he was cornered, and finally captured in the engine room, his errant phaser shot damaged the transporter further. Scotty and Spock isolated and repaired the damage.
Their repairs were confirmed when a test animal, which had previously been split in a similar manner to Kirk, was sent through the transporter in an attempt to reintegrate the two creatures. Upon reintegrating, it rematerialized dead.
Crippled with indecision, Kirk was able, barely, to make the trip, and his two halves were reintegrated once again. (TOS|The Enemy Within)
- In the 1960s, the writers were encouraged to be vague about just exactly HOW Federation technology worked, so there were no detailed "rules" about what could and could not be done with it. However, those established for the writers of "The Next Generation" made it clear that, like "Splitting one individual into two identical ones" below, this accident should not have happened. This did not prevent them from having it happen anyway in TNG|Second Chances
Transport to the mirror universe In 2267, an ion storm caused a transporter accident. After failing to persuade the Halkan Council to allow the Federation to mine dilithium in on their planet, a USS Enterprise landing party, expecting to beam back on to their ship, were beamed aboard the unfamiliar ISS Enterprise NCC-1701 in the Mirror Universe.
Upon beaming aboard, they discovered that the peace-loving United Federation of Planets had been replaced with a brutal Terran Empire, and that they had their own "mirror" counterparts. (TOS|Mirror, Mirror)
In 2272, two Enterprise crewmen, including Commander Sonak, were killed in a transporter malfunction when beaming up to the ship while the Enterprise transporter was down for repairs. The teleportation was aborted, sending the deforming bodies of the crewmembers back to Earth; the transport chief reported back, shaken, "Enterprise, what we got back didn't live long... fortunately." (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
In early 2375, Weyoun 5 was killed in a transporter accident. Damar was to have been with him but "had been called away", casting suspicion on him for possibly "arranging" the incident. (DS9|Treachery, Faith and the Great River)
Split one entity into two identical entities
In 2361, on Nervala IV, the USS Potemkin NCC-18253 was conducting an evacuation of the science outpost on the planet. Lieutenant William T. Riker|Riker was part of the away team at the time.
An unusual distortion field meant the Potemkin had difficulty beaming up Riker. A second confinement beam was initiated to overcome these difficulties, with the intent of reintegrating the two beams in the transporter buffer.
This was unnecessary as only one beam was successful at transporting Riker, the modulation of the distortion caused the second beam to be reflected back down to the surface, materializing two Rikers, one on the ship, and one on the planet's surface. Unlike the two Kirks created in 2266, both Rikers were functionally identical to the original man.
The Potemkin left orbit, unknowingly abandoning the duplicate Riker. After eight years, this accident was discovered by the Enterprise-D which revisited the planet, found the second Thomas Riker|Riker and brought him back to the ship. (TNG|Second Chances)
Rematerialization without clothes
During Chakotay's Starfleet career, he was involved in a transporter malfunction. His uniform ended up in the pattern buffer and he materialized wearing only his combadge. (VOY|In the Flesh)
In 2371, Benjamin Sisko, Julian Bashir and Jadzia Dax were accidentally transported to the year 2024, by an explosion in a microscopic singularity while passing through the solar system at the time of the beam-out.
Fortunately, Miles O'Brien was able to devise a way to send Kira Nerys and himself to different periods of Earth's history to try and find out where the away team was sent, and then bring them back home.
However, while in the 21st century, Sisko accidentally caused the death of Gabriel Bell, forcing him to assume the identity of this historical figure. As a result, Sisko is actually in all the historical photos of Bell. (DS9|Past Tense, Part I)
Being turned into holograms
In 2372, the patterns of Sisko, Kira, Worf, Dax, and Miles O'Brien were temporarily stored in the computer core of Deep Space 9 to prevent their patterns from degrading because of an explosion on their runabout at the time of beam-out.
They were integrated into a holoprogram run by Julian Bashir, and each took on one of the hologram|holographic roles in the program. Eventually, Michael Eddington was able to restore the crewmembers back to normal. (DS9|Our Man Bashir)
Two entities merged into one
Lysosomal enzymes of an alien orchid were the cause of another accident in that same year. Tuvok and Neelix were temporarily merged into one being during transport with the orchid. Tuvix, as he named himself (or themselves), was a complete mixture of the talents of both crewmembers.
After discovering how to separate the two patterns and retrieve both Tuvok and Neelix, Tuvix protested that such a procedure would be equivalent to murdering him, but the procedure was undertaken anyway, and Tuvok and Neelix were restored. (VOY|Tuvix)
Other transporter accidents
- The Tholian Web
- The Next Phase
- Vanishing Point
Because of these accidents, some people suffer from transporter phobia or experience transporter shock.
It should be noted that by the mid-24th century, there were only an average of two or three transporter accidents a year across the Federation, yet millions of people were transported every day. (TNG|Realm of Fear)