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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old February 8 2010, 04:25 PM   #31
Timo
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

I'd actually think that a stern launch would be more logical. That way, the pod doesn't stand in the way of the mothership after launch, but rather allows her to hit the pedal and get out of the storm without doing any fancy maneuvers.

If the pod were something ejected at high relative speed, then perhaps bow launch would be good. But I'm fond of T'Girl's idea of something that looks essentially like a travel pod, only with sensors in place of the window, and with a narrower docking collar - and is not as much launched as it is jettisoned (the term also used in the TOS episode), at low relative speed and without significant propulsive capacity of its own.

The bonus of this sort of thinking is that it agrees with TOS-R and makes use of all the pseudo-logic already associated with that. Such as the proximity of the shuttle maintenance facilities, the clear path for Finney to escape to Main Engineering, the idea that Finney would take quite some time to get to the location from his quarters or whatever, and so forth...

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Old February 8 2010, 04:38 PM   #32
Jeri
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

There's not a reason given why someone must set the ion pod up at the time of a storm -- why it shouldn't be ready to go at any time, like other probes.

And I'm not ready to dismiss the non-canon written reason of the pod being a danger to the ship; that's pretty good evidence.
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Old February 8 2010, 06:16 PM   #33
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

There's also some dialogue on the tape extract playback that Lt. Shaw plays as evidence for the court:

Uhura: Call from the pod, sir.

Kirk: Tie in.

Finney: Finney here, Captain. Ion readings in progress.

Kirk: Make it fast, Ben-- I may have to go to Red Alert.

Finney: Affirmative.


So evidently, the pod wasn't simply being readied to take readings; ion readings were actually in progress.
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Old February 9 2010, 04:42 AM   #34
Captain Robert April
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

I suppose I can accept the pod being docked back by the hangar deck (I'm still rather fond of my idea of pods extended on an umbilical from the B/C superstructure, but oh well....).

What I'm still not in favor of is the light being the ion pod. Not nearly big enough.
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Old February 9 2010, 09:56 AM   #35
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Especially on a 947' ship, Finney could barely squeeze his head into it!

There's also the issue of reloading the pod after use (without having to go outside the ship). Rather than have a section of the ships who's sole purpose is to prep and jettison ion pods (a rare need) it makes much more sense to have a multi-role system.

Timo - I agree that if it's merely being jettisoned (rather than launched, as I alluded to) then perhaps a "kick it out the back" setup might be preferable.
In which case, there are any number of hatches along the bottom of the secondary hull that could house the neccessary machinery.
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Old February 9 2010, 10:38 AM   #36
Timo
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

There's not a reason given why someone must set the ion pod up at the time of a storm -- why it shouldn't be ready to go at any time, like other probes.
We don't have any evidence that other probes would be "ready to go", either. Even Picard often has to call for a probe to be prepared, rather than simply launched.

It all makes good sense if we view it as a parallel to today's tornado hunting. You never know when your elusive subject or study will appear, so you can't stay in constant readiness. Your instrument has a limited lifetime, so you only fire it up just before hitting the phenomenon. And your driver is at least as important to the results as your instrument operator - it's up to him or her to drive the truck right onto the path of the tornado at the exact right time, using his or her best judgement, and to be in command of the deployment sequence, a finger figuratively (or sometimes literally) on the trigger button.

And I'm not ready to dismiss the non-canon written reason of the pod being a danger to the ship; that's pretty good evidence.
I'd dismiss it outright. If the pod is a grave danger to the ship, Kirk would simply refuse to use it.

We've never heard of shields being disrupted by a geometry change in the ship's outline (say, when sections are blown off in battle), so that's automatically out. Keeping the shields down so that they don't disrupt the instruments... Kirk wouldn't do that in a situation amounting to a yellow alert, and in any case it would not offer any rationale for the need to jettison the pod. If the instruments don't like shields, screw them - if need be, fry them when the shields must be raised. Or just shut them down.

So evidently, the pod wasn't simply being readied to take readings; ion readings were actually in progress.
Sure. But that's what would happen if the pod were being readied, too. The officer rushes to the pod, starts firing up the experiments; some of them start whirring and beeping; the officer informs the CO that he's achieved a milestone but isn't ready yet; and the CO tells him to make it fast and give the final A-OK so that the thing can finally be launched.

What I'm still not in favor of is the light being the ion pod. Not nearly big enough.
I'd argue here that the pod would be inserted deep within the hull, with only a sensor head (or possible porthole) showing. In fact, several such coffin-sized devices might be housed there, beneath the hangar deck and ready to deploy sidewise. These would indeed perform a variety of functions - but none would be big enough to be multifunctional by itself. Instead, there'd be a spectrum of the things.

For example, the operator would crawl into the thin cylinder, kick free of the ship, and deploy multiple arms from this heavy duty spacesuit, in order to begin repairs on the exterior... An eminently logical tool for starships, and quite familiar from 1930s-50s scifi comics. One wouldn't enter it vertically, because climbing into a thin cylinder from the top or bottom is awfully clumsy. Sliding into it horizontally from the bottom would be much easier.

The ion pod would simply be a variant of this repair pod, packed with instrumentation that can be operated on both attached and deployed mode. And like T'Girl says, it would be modern instrumentation, stuff that hasn't yet been integrated to the old mothership, and thus e.g. requires an expert to activate. Modern instrumentation in a modular plug-in package - what could be more logical?

There's also the issue of reloading the pod after use (without having to go outside the ship). Rather than have a section of the ships who's sole purpose is to prep and jettison ion pods (a rare need) it makes much more sense to have a multi-role system.
The repair pods would fly themselves back without need for outside help. The ion pod would be a throwaway item if used on detached mode. (It probably also typically gets destroyed soon after deployment, since no attempt was made to locate the pod in the hopes of finding Finney inside...) Reloading might not be an issue simply because a starship won't be able to afford multiple pods. It's not as if submarines today carry spare ICBMs, either.

And it would make more sense to provide dedicated berths for the repair pods than to launch them from the shuttlebay. Deploying a single-man pod doesn't require any of the facilities of the shuttlebay, and it would be awfully wasteful to pump all that air and open those heavy doors for no good reason. OTOH, placing the array of repair pod berths right next to the shuttlebay (or, rather, the hangar deck below) would also place the pods ideally next to auxiliary craft repair facilities, spacewalk gear stowage, etc.

I believe aridas sofia introduced repair pods in this very location in his TOS ship blueprints, although he used variants based on Jeffries doodles, rather than the simple narrow cylinder that would best fit the supposed ion pod berth.

Finally, here's the supposed reloading of the ion pod in the TOS-R episode:

http://tos.trekcore.com/hd/albums/1x...rtialhd049.jpg

Replace the simple dome with a cylinder capped by said dome, and you have a perfectly practical small spacecraft to be used as a repair pod... I'd like to postulate that the corresponding (and unseen) portside location features two pod berths, rather than a berth and a porthole, and routinely carries two repair pods.

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Old February 9 2010, 10:08 PM   #37
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Oh, I don't know. At no time in the episode do they talk about "launching" the pod. But they do say "jettison" ten times--and the button on Kirk's chair reads "Jettison Pod." From a semantic standpoint, I'm pretty familiar with what "jettison" means versus what "launch" means--and I think Kirk was being accused of jettisoning the pod prematurely, not launching it prematurely. I think the writer was probably familiar with the meanings of these two different words, too, and used the one he actually meant. What a simple matter it would have been to use the word "launch"--if that had actually been the functionality that the writer intended to convey. Or, for that matter, he would have called it a probe instead of a "pod."
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Old February 10 2010, 09:44 AM   #38
Timo
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

I'd completely ignore writer intent here, considering that the McGuffin was never really given any "treknological" thought and thus gives the story unintentional complications if not further rationalized...

Also, Kirk was indeed accused of premature deployment, whatever the exact word on the nature of that deployment. Nobody seemed to suggest that deployment wouldn't have been the ultimate goal. If something has been built to be deliberately deployed (be it to its assignment, or to its doom) without any intent of later recovery, I'm more or less happy with using "jettison" as the word for that action.

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Old February 10 2010, 02:26 PM   #39
johcomp
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

I've got an I-Pod if that helps??
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Old February 10 2010, 09:22 PM   #40
ahkyahnan
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

T'Girl and Timo,

T'Girls idea is intriguing and I can generally buy into it as a valid possibility, but there's still a few things nagging at me.

For example, how do you tie this into the significance the episode placed on whether or not Kirk had gone from Yellow Alert to Red Alert before jettisoning the pod? I'm not nearly the best at recalling dialogue from memory, but the central issue in Court Martial seemed to be Kirk's claim that he had gone to Red Alert before jettisoning, while the computer log showed they were still only at Yellow Alert.

Why would that be essential if jettisoning the pod was part of the standard process? I mean if the pod's ready to launch and the ship's in a suitable position, why would it matter what alert status you're at? Why would that change in status be the primary factor that his court martial charges seemed to rest on?

The implication to me seemed to be that if he had in fact gone to Red Alert before jettisoning the pod, then he would've been deemed justified in doing so, even if Finney was still in there. I don't recall him being charged with some sort of negligence for launching a pod with a crew member still in it, but for doing so prematurely...when the ship was still only at Yellow Alert. In fact the Commodore seems satisfied that Kirk followed proper procedures and a court martial isn't even convened until a review of the computer logs contradicts Kirk's statement that the ship was at Red Alert...not because of any contradiction to being certain Finney was out of the pod or not.

Now I could buy that going to Red Alert might've been some final indication to Finney to get out now and that launch was imminent, but if launch was a standard procedure and Finney was still in there for some reason, then jettisoning would've still been an offense at any Alert level. You'd just scrub the launch and get out of the storm. The only reason to me that Kirk actions would've been initially deemed appropriate would be if the pod itself represented some sort of danger to the ship and had to be jettisoned whether or not Finney got out, which brings us back to the question of why would the pod represent a danger.

To sum it up, I recall the hinge factor in Kirk's trial as being the timing of going from Yellow to Red alert, not the fact that a crewmember was still in it. Like I said though, I'm not good at recalling dialogue sometimes, so correct me if I'm misremembering.

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Last edited by ahkyahnan; February 10 2010 at 11:14 PM.
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Old February 10 2010, 11:57 PM   #41
Bruno
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

^
Not to interrupt, but I understood the "red alert" to be Finney's last warning that the pod was about to be jettisoned. As long as they were at Yellow, he would think he still had time.
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Old February 11 2010, 08:43 AM   #42
Timo
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

I mean if the pod's ready to launch and the ship's in a suitable position, why would it matter what alert status you're at?
My starting point here is that the pod was not ready to launch. In fact, ion pods virtually never are, because ion storms are such fickle beasts; one has to hunt for them, but carefully, because this places the ship at risk, and one has to launch the pod when one has the chance. But ship's safety is always paramount, and the Captain is the one to decide on that.

Thus, if the ship is only mildly endangered (yellow alert), pod preparations can proceed. If the skipper feels it's time to go, there's only a second or two to respond, so the skipper is expected to hit red alert, at which point dozens of crewmen snap to action: the pod specialist withdraws and the pod is launched as is (so that the whole risky thing hasn't been done for nothing), the helmsman wrestles the ship out of the storm, and no doubt other people do other things to protect the ship.

If the procedure at hitting red alert in an ion storm merely consisted of securing the ship, then the pod would go unlaunched and the mission would be a failure of sorts. So pod launch would be integrated to the procedure, with all the control of every aspect of the procedure on the skipper's fingertips.

Note that in TOS, yellow and red alert do not automatically correspond to things like "shields up" or "weapons hot". Those are separate commands, and situation-dependent. Probably in red alert, the crew must be ready to raise the shields immediately; in yellow alert, they need not be that prepared; etc.

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Old February 11 2010, 09:37 AM   #43
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

johcomp wrote: View Post
I've got an I-Pod if that helps??
My wife jettisoned our son's i-pod for failing two classes this past quarter.
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Old February 11 2010, 12:24 PM   #44
Timo
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

The implication to me seemed to be that if he had in fact gone to Red Alert before jettisoning the pod, then he would've been deemed justified in doing so, even if Finney was still in there.
Forgot to comment on this one...

I don't think Kirk ever thought he would be launching Finney into space (and certain death there) - not even during or after jettisoning the pod. I don't think anybody thought that this would be admissible under any circumstances, either. Kirk said he gave Finney every second he would have needed for getting out of the pod - and after the incident, he initiated a shipwide, shipboard search for Finney, not a search for the pod, clearly with the implication that he thought Finney would have gotten out.

Kirk might have been negligient in not verifying that Finney really got out. But he did give Finney that very command, before which he had heard Finney making all sorts of A-okay comments, and after which things got busy and Kirk had to use his trigger finger for doing multiple things, including commanding red alert and then completing the mission by launching the pod. Cogley might have based his defense on Finney not obeying orders and thus causing his own death, but of course he didn't want to go that route.

Kirk would have been worried about the safety of his ship, but not at the expense of safety of Finney. It wouldn't be a case of "Red alert -> pod must go or else ship suffers", but of "Ship is suffering -> red alert -> now-or-never for pod launch -> pod launch and retreat to safety".

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Old February 11 2010, 06:58 PM   #45
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Timo,

I agree with the timeline you lay out above, and also that Kirk initially believed that Finney had gotten out of the pod. And that he'd given Finney every opportunity to get out before jettisoning. The problem I have is that 'giving him every opportunity' isn't enough for an operation that's optional and can be aborted if necessary. Essential steps in such a process would be positive verification that the crewman was out before jettisoning, not hitting that launch button until you had such verification, and simply aborting the mission if that verification never came before it was necessary for Enterprise to depart. To my recollection there's no discussion of anything like that. Finney had plenty of time, but an accident or mishap could've occurred that would prevent him from getting out, and I'd think they'd have procedures in place to prevent the pod from launching with a crewman still inside.

Now it's possible those things occurred off-camera and Finney altered those records as well, but the problem I still have is that after all is said and done and it's discovered that Finney didn't escape, the investigation and court martial doesn't focus on "how & why did you launch the pod with a crewman still aboard when your (altered) computer records clearly show he was still inside" or "why did a needless death occur in a situation that was preventable and why weren't there sufficient safeguards to prevent something like this from happening?" Rather the entire investigation & proceedings for the remainder of the episode focus on "were you or were you not at Red Alert when you jettisoned the pod?"

It's this sole focus by the Commodore and the court on the Yellow Alert vs Red Alert condition that bothers me. If Finney's death was needless and fully preventable, then Kirk should've been facing an investigation & court martial as soon as he arrived at Starbase. Instead he doesn't get into trouble at all until the Commodore suddenly realizes the ships records don't show they were yet in a Red Alert situation, and it's that specific focus point that suddenly shifts the direction of the entire episode. Implying that something that was previously considered justifiable and simply unfortunate when at Red Alert, is suddenly unacceptable at only Yellow Alert. It should never have been acceptable under any Alert condition for a crewman to end up dead in an abortable operation, and Kirk should've been in hot water as soon as Finney was presumed dead.

To me, if the makers of the episode viewed the pod jettison as a standard part of the operation, then they would've written in at least a little something about Finney's death being unnecessary under any circumstances, and had Kirk question himself as to whether he could've done more to make sure Finney was indeed out beforehand, rather than focusing solely on when in the sequence of events did the death occur.

I'll admit I haven't watched the ep in awhile though, and will try to review tonight to see if I'm misremembering. Are episode transcripts available online anywhere? Just curious.

Mark
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