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Travel pod

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Travel pod

Travel pod 05 leaving the orbital office complex

Travel pod interior

Travel pod interior

A travel pod was a small Federation shuttlepod predominately used during the 23rd century by facilities like the San Francisco Fleet Yards to transfer personnel to drydocks or spaceships without having to use transporters. These vessels had a flight crew that could include one pilot and up to seven passengers.

In 2272, Admiral Kirk traveled aboard travel pod 05 from the orbital office complex to the refitted USS Enterprise. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

In 2285, Sulu piloted such a vessel, carrying Kirk, Uhura and McCoy to the Enterprise for an inspection tour. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

The following year, the former crew of the Enterprise was transported to their new ship, the USS Enterprise-A, aboard a travel pod while the Enterprise was still docked in Earth Spacedock. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)



Background information

At least two travel pods that were numbered differently from those seen in the film have appeared in Paramount-licensed works. In early concept paintings that production illustrator Michael Minor created for The Motion Picture, a travel pod numbered "4" can be seen. (The Art of Star Trek, pp. 15-153, 168-169) The first edition of the Star Trek Encyclopedia had a diagram of a travel pod labeled 06.

In the book Ships of the Line (pp. 74-75), the travel pod was classified as a Mark II-B pod.

Studio model

The design of the travel pod evolved out of the requirement of Gene Roddenberry to have the orbital office complex designed as a cluster of many offices. "Part of his reasoning for that was to provide a cinematic surprise when one of the smaller offices broke away from the others, becoming a small space ship called, in the script, a "Travel Pod". This was the small engineer's inspection vehicle that Scotty would use to ferry Kirk over to the USS Enterprise for his (and our) close inspection of the new ship. My early "pod" concepts were very close to the office shapes, as required, but when Roddenberry introduced "further requirements"–i.e., made changes–it evolved to what was eventually shown on screen.", designer Andrew Probert explained. (Starlog photo guidebook Special Effects, vol. 5, p. 90) On his thoughts behind his design he later reminisced:

"My original concepts had a docking hatch at the rear and a docking ring off-set (like the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon) to the right. Gene wanted the ring moved to the back as a single entry/exit with auto-docking taking the worry out of backing into a docking cavity. When I opened a discussion about the doors, he said that receiving structures would have mechanisms to pull the doors open… connecting to those three recesses in the (lighter) gray doors. Prior to that, after the pod backs in, over twenty latches rotate to an attitude perpendicular to the ring, protruding into a receiving groove. They all move forward, pulling the pod into a hard docking against it’s black sealing-ring. As for the single ‘belly-band’ light,… that was my original concept, having the entire area around the pod illuminated. Being, basically, an Engineers’ inspection car, I thought a lot of light was appropriate. Douglas Trumbull wanted to break that space up and have little dividing panels on them so “they would flash, like the saucer lights in Close Encounters, as it went past camera”. As for the tiny signage, after looking at real military aircraft, I realized a lot of their surfaces were covered with various instructions, labels, and warnings. I went out and bought a bunch of models decal sheets and we all covered that model with what felt right. I knew most of them wouldn’t be ‘seen’… but they would be ‘felt’, helping to make it a bit more realistic." [1]
While the design worked out eventually, Probert was ultimately not entirely satisfied with the craft's appearance. "I was sort of forced into that design solution," he explained. "I would have preferred something a little more 'Probertesque.'" [2]

Travel pod studio model worked upon by Chriss Ross

Ross working upon the travel pod studio model

USS Enterprise spacedock closeup

The miniature model of the travel pod (upper right)

The actual studio model was eventually constructed at Magicam, Inc., where it was worked upon by among others model maker Chris Ross. Apart from the full scale studio model, a very small miniature was constructed to go with the drydock model, where it was seen parked inside the structure. As far as the main model was concerned, Chief Modeler Jim Dow has stated that the scale was 2"=1' (Starlog, issue 27, p. 30). The travel pods of The Motion Picture were filmed on one of Trumbull's stages at Future General Corporation. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 206) Preparing the travel pod studio model for filming involved Hoyt Yeatman and Alan Harding. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, interior color photographs)

For its appearance in Star Trek IV, the travel pod model was refurbished and reused. (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 122) Model Shop Supervisor Jeff Mann stated, "We added a back half to [it]." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 68)

In its refurbished form, the model has escaped the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection and It's A Wrap! sale and auctions, and has been retained by Paramount Pictures as a tour exhibit display piece, having been on tours such as Star Trek World Tour, Star Trek: The Adventure and Star Trek The Exhibition as late as 2011. [3]

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