Project Genesis was the code name for a scientific research project whose goal was to develop a process whereby uninhabitable planets could be made suitable for humanoid life. The Genesis effect involved reducing the target space body to subatomic particles, then reassembling them, according to the pre-programmed Genesis matrix.
The project, led by Dr. Carol Marcus, had advanced to "stage two", successfully tested inside a cavern on the Regula I planetoid. The madman Khan Noonien Singh initiated a full-scale Genesis effect on stardate 8130 when he stole the Genesis Device and detonated it inside the Mutara Nebula, forming the Genesis Planet. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
Despite the fact that initial tests had shown the promise of the Genesis process, the planet created by Khan's actions proved to be unstable. This was shown to be a function of the highly volatile protomatter that had been incorporated by the project scientists into the Genesis process. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
Starfleet involvement Edit
Dr. Carol Marcus presented a proposal and demonstration of Project Genesis to the United Federation of Planets on stardate 7130.4. The Federation had provided substantial funding, and ancillary support from Starfleet, in the form of the USS Reliant, toward its development. Due to the project's potential destructiveness in the event it were used on an already-inhabited world, the project's existence had been classified as secret.
The starship Reliant was assigned to find a target planet, devoid of life, which would be suitable for the project. The Reliant, captained by Clark Terrell, had conducted several unsuccessful searches before arriving at the Ceti Alpha system. Terrell and first officer Pavel Chekov transported to the surface of Ceti Alpha V to investigate life signs, but they were captured by Khan and implanted with mind-controlling Ceti eels. The rest of the Reliant crew were abandoned on Ceti Alpha V while Khan used Chekov and Terrell to claim that Starfleet, under orders from Admiral James T. Kirk, wanted to take custody of the Genesis data and potentially "militarize" the project, also disrupting communications links between the project and Starfleet to prevent Marcus learning that Kirk had no intention of taking Genesis.
Following the loss of communication, Starfleet ordered the USS Enterprise to investigate. Kirk briefed Captain Spock and Dr. Leonard McCoy about the project, screening a recorded classified briefing featuring Carol Marcus and computer-generated simulation imagery of the Genesis effect.
Enterprise confronted the hijacked Reliant (whose crew had been marooned on Ceti Alpha V by Khan) and was severely damaged in its attempt to stop Khan from fully exploiting the device and the project. However, despite Khan's intellect, his lack of experience allowed the Enterprise crew to lure him into a trap in the Mutara Nebula, where they exploited his two-dimensional thinking – used to fighting in sea-ships or on land rather than in space – to sneak up on him from below and severely damage Reliant. Khan attempted to detonate the stolen Genesis torpedo to destroy Enterprise but the ship was able to repair its warp engines and escape the nebula before the detonation could complete. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
After the detonation of the Genesis device, the Federation Council ordered Starfleet to squelch information regarding the project. Starfleet Admiral Harry Morrow ordered the Enterprise crew to secrecy and had the crew monitored by Starfleet Intelligence and Federation Security. The Mutara sector was declared off-limits, and Starfleet sent the USS Grissom to investigate the newly-formed planet.
Meanwhile, the Klingon spy Valkris had managed to obtain Kirk's classified briefing of the Genesis project and transmitted it to Commander Kruge. Kruge destroyed Valkris's transport vessel, the freighter Merchantman, after she admitted to Kruge having seen the contents of the briefing.
Understanding Genesis' destructive potential as well as its power to create life from lifelessness, Kruge went to the Genesis planet, where one of his officers accidentally destroyed the Grissom with all aboard in their attempt to disable the vessel. An away team from Grissom, consisting of Lieutenant Saavik and Doctor David Marcus, remained on the surface. Kruge had Marcus killed, and Saavik was left as the sole survivor from the Grissom team. The USS Enterprise, having been pirated by Kirk, returned to the planet to find and recover Spock, whose body had been restored to life by the Genesis effect. Kirk and crew prevented Kruge from accessing the Genesis project files, destroying the Enterprise in the process, while appropriating Kruge's Bird-of-Prey for themselves. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
Because Khan detonated the Genesis torpedo on a starship instead of into the nebula itself, it caused a deadly chain reaction. Protomatter in the matrix mixed with antimatter leaking from Reliant's warp core, causing it to turn into red matter, destabilizing the planet's core because a black hole formed and consumed it from within. This planet was not perfect; instead of life, it caused death and destruction. Animals were mutated, weather was bizarre, and earthquakes, fires, volcanic eruptions, and windstorms, along with the unstable core, tore the planet apart, blocked out the sun, and caused the planet to age rapidly. This along with Reliant's location in an unstable nebula caused the core to break down to the point Genesis exploded, although exposure to the Genesis energies did have the unexpected side-effect of restoring the body of the deceased Spock and then accelerating his aging so that he was the same age he had been when he died. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
After the Genesis planet destabilized, the Klingon ambassador used Kirk's briefing as to Project Genesis, along with images of the destruction of Enterprise, when he spoke before a session of the Federation Council. The ambassador demanded Kirk's extradition by the Federation to the Klingon Empire, to be punished by the Klingons for the Klingon deaths caused when he ordered the self-destruct of Enterprise. He vilified Project Genesis, characterizing it as a weapon created by the Federation in order to bring about the annihilation of the Klingon people. However, Ambassador Sarek, in a rebuttal also before the Federation Council, added that the Klingon ship had destroyed the Grissom and killed Kirk's son, David, in an illegal attempt to possess the secret of Genesis. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
Background information Edit
The Genesis Project music was created by Craig Huxley and was released on CD (it is not on the original Star Trek II soundtrack release, but on the Film Score Monthly re-release.).
The Genesis simulation graphics sequence was created for Star Trek II by Lucasfilm's Graphics Group. The footage was later reused in Star Trek III and Star Trek IV.
The Project Genesis simulation or demonstration graphics sequence, has been invariably referred to ever since as the "Genesis Demo" by production staff and reference authors alike. (American Cinematographer, October 1982, pp. 1038)
The (non-canon) Star Trek III novelization further suggests that the planet and system may have been unstable due not only to the inclusion of protomatter in the matrix, but also to being formed entirely from the matter of the Mutara Nebula rather than having been detonated on a pre-existing world, as originally intended. The Genesis Wave series of novels (set in the 24th century and featuring the crew of the USS Enterprise-E) expand upon this premise, noting that the Genesis Cave continued to exist inside the Regula One planetoid (which contradicts the movie novel, which shows that the plants inside the cave had mutated into something completely different than what they had started out as), and features some insight as to what happened after the events of The Wrath of Khan, including the revelation that Carol Marcus survived into the twenty-fourth century, although kept in secret due to the danger of her knowledge of the Genesis Project.
According to the novel The Sorrows of Empire, the first two stages of Project Genesis were carried out in a similar manner in the mirror universe. However, funding for further research was denied by Emperor Spock in 2284, effectively ending the project.