Crazy Eddie wrote:
The Stig wrote:
"These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Her mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before."
Sounds to me like the primary mission of the Enterprise and by extension, Starfleet, is one of galactic exploration. Scotty's complaint, and it was a proper one, was that the Enterprise was being dispatched on a covert mission of aggression.
Isn't that quite a leap though? Because they send one ship on a mission of exploration, it is the primary mission of the whole organization?
We honestly don't know what the mission of those other Constitution-class vessels were. Plus, how many of those missions of the Enterprise
were pure exploration with no other concerns? We see them go on offensive missions, defensive missions, missions of pure espionage, missions of support for Earth/Federation colonies, diplomatic courier and emergency courier.
And yet, about the only thing that has ever been consistent in every Star Trek series is that every starship, no matter what its current assignment, will default to exploration as soon as all their government-mandated chores are done. Probably the most blatant example of this is in "Caretaker", where Janeway quotes a broad "directive" to "seek out new worlds and explore space," this despite the fact that they originally got into this predicament in the first place during a convoluted counter-terrorism assignment.
Basically, exploration is their DEFAULT assignment. Combat, patrol and police missions are relegated to a strictly "as needed" basis.
Except that, without actually sitting down and doing the math, "as needed" seems to be a large chunk of the time. Heck, every other episode in the third season of TOS seems to have the Enterprise in the middle of delivering vital medical supplies to an imperiled colony somewhere or ferrying a diplomat to a vital conference or some such errand. Just looking at TOS, I'm not sure that the majority of the eps actually have the Enterprise just toodling through space, exploring, and not dealing with some sort of crisis . . ..
EDIT: Okay, just for fun, I looked at the first season of TOS, which can be presumed to set the tone for the rest of the franchise. By my count, only 9 out of 29 episodes had the ship engaged in pure exploration. The rest of the time they were responding to distress signals, checking on remote colonies, investigating lost colonists and ships, dealing with diplomatic and/or military crises, transporting VIPs from place to place, assisting endangered mining operations, and so on.
In other words, the "default" to exploration can be seen in only about one-third of the episodes . . . .