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The airponics bay was a cargo bay on the USS Voyager which had been converted for use as a practical airponics garden. In the vernacular of the crew of Voyager, the space was sometimes simply called "airponics", muddying the lines between the bay itself and the scientific discipline. According to visual evidence, not all plants in the room were grown airponically, suggesting that the term hydroponic bay may have been equally applicable.
While presumably many Federation vessels had alternative cultivation facilities on board, Voyager had not been so equipped at launch, and therefore had to retrofit an existing space for the purpose. (VOY: "Parallax")
It was created and maintained primarily by Kes. Her main goal in its creation was to provide edible vegetation that might alleviate the drain on energy resources caused by replicating food. She became so attached to the space that, when pressed by the Ocampan Tanis to take him to "the place that is special to you," she chose to introduce him to the airponics bay. (VOY: "Cold Fire") Kes' departure, however, did not force the closure of the bay. At least one other crewman, Doug Bronowski, also pulled duty shifts there, after Kes left. (VOY: "Someone to Watch Over Me")
The exact location of the bay was somewhat unclear, but it was most likely in what was, at the launch of Voyager, known as cargo bay 2.
Background information Edit
The location of the airponics bay is suggested by VOY: "Parallax". In the episode, Kes tells Captain Janeway that she believes energy reserves could be stretched by the creation of a hydroponics bay. Harry Kim notes that "cargo bay 2" could easily be converted to that purpose, because of its specialized environmental control. Although the term "hydroponic" is rarely used afterwards, some of the plants seen in the "airponic bay" do appear to be growing non-airponically. As seen in the picture at top right, the plants on the lower level of each unit seem to have their roots growing in what appears to be a thin layer of soil – a marked contrast to how the plants are growing on the first two tiers. Given that Kes requested nitrogenated soil to start her "hydroponics bay" in "Parallax", it is reasonable to assume that the "hydroponics bay" of "Parallax" and the "airponics bay" of much of the remainder of the series are the same area.
"Cargo bay 2" is an area referred to in the series in widely differing ways. "Parallax", as discussed above, suggests that it is the home of the hydroponic/airponic bay. However, VOY: "Maneuvers" places it as the site of a deliberate Kazon shuttle crash. In this episode, we learn that "cargo bay 2" is on deck 4, close to a transporter room. This "cargo bay 2" is probably not the same one in which Kes gardens, as there is no sign of the plants that were seen in airponics in just the previous episode. (VOY: "Cold Fire") Later in the series, we learn that the Borg assimilate "cargo bay 2", and that it eventually becomes the site of Seven of Nine's alcove. (VOY: "Scorpion, Part II") The "Equinox" two-parter places that alcove firmly on deck 8. Thus, if Kes did take Harry Kim's suggestion and build her garden in "cargo bay 2", other, conflicting uses of the term have made it difficult to establish exactly where her "cargo bay 2" is.
It is unclear whether similar areas on other starships were actually called "airponic (or hydroponic) bays", as the name was first suggested by Kes in a way that implied the combination of the term "cargo bay" with the space's new purpose. However, the crew's ready acceptance of the term may counter-suggest that it was a perfectly acceptable "Starfleet name" in wide use.
- The units in the airponics bay were reused from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, in which they appear as crew bunks. (text commentary, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Special Edition) DVD)