Error, error, faulty. Great post, Dale. I always thought the ion pod was some huge part of the ship, like jettisoning the nacelles from the saucer or something.
At any rate, I think it's hokey as hell whenever they say they have to solve some problem before "the orbit starts to decay". Any competent space buff knows it takes months or even years for an orbit to decay sufficiently for an object to fall into the atmosphere. This was a problem for me in "Galileo Seven" and "The Naked Time".
~ Mr Atoz, the genuine replica