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Technology Data
Name Transporter
Type Transporter
Introduced 2121
Affiliation All
TechStatus Star Trek Canon
Contributor Czarr Rom

The transporter is a device capable of almost instantaneously moving an object from one location to another. Transporters are able to dematerialize, transmit and reassemble an object. The act of transporting is often referred to as "beaming."


File:Transporter on Enterprise NX-01.jpg
A 22nd century transporter platform from Earth Starfleet
File:NX transporter.jpg
The upgraded transporter platform later installed aboard the Enterprise (NX-01) (2154)
Emory Erickson, the inventor of the transporter, with daughter, Danica Erickson

Transporters have been used by many civilizations throughout history, but the first Human-made transporter was invented by Emory Erickson sometime prior to 2121, with the first operable transporter being developed before 2139.

The Enterprise NX-01 was one of the first Starfleet starships to be equipped with a transporter authorized for transporting biological objects, though it was rarely utilized due to the newness of the technology. Its use became common during Enterprise's search of the Delphic Expanse, mainly due to its usefulness in this dangerous sector of space.

Early transporters were not very reliable, and even after Enterprise's mission, most were authorized for non-biological transports only. Even when transporter use became commonplace, most Humans and other species at a similar stage of technological development preferred traditional methods of travel. With the advent of safer transporters, biological transport became increasingly common, which led to the appearance of the first transporter-related diseases. The best known disease was Transporter psychosis which was diagnosed in 2209.

As Starfleet, continued their exploration of space, dependence on transporters grew significantly. Transporters could simplify away missions considerably by eliminating the need for a shuttlecraft. In case of emergencies, medical or otherwise, the time saved could mean the difference between life or death. The advent of safer transporters gave Starfleet the ability to respond more quickly to emergencies and made away missions much easier.

Transporters became the most reliable form of short-range transport by the 24th century. Innovations in transporter technology around this time included safer site-to-site transport, which allowed for transport between two locations without first returning to a transporter room. The basic principles behind Federation transporters didn't differ from those of other species, although they had a distinctive blue color

By the 29th century, Starfleet had developed temporal transporter technology that allowed travel through time in a very similar manner to standard transporters of earlier centuries.


File:Transporter matter beam.jpg
View from within a transporter's matter stream

By the 24th century, most space faring civilization of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants employed transporter technology for short-range transport of personnel and equipment. There were many advantages to utilizing transporters. On a planetary scale, small vehicles and spacecraft were no longer required to travel between locations. Traveling by transporter was essentially instantaneous and an individual’s sense of time while transporting was effectively non-existent.

In general, a Transporter Chief was responsible for the operational readiness, maintenance and repair of a ship or station's transporter systems. By the 24th century, transporter systems could also be operated from computer terminals other than those in transporter rooms. Furthermore, emergency transporter armbands, transponders and combadges could programmed to remotely activate a transporter. Normally, remote transporter activation was limited to emergencies or when the crew of a vessel was not on board.

A typical transport sequence began with a coordinate lock, during which the destination was verified and programmed, via the targeting scanners. Next, the life form or object to be beamed was scanned on the quantum level using a molecular imaging scanner. At this point, Heisenberg compensators take into account the position and direction of all subatomic particles composing the object or individual and create a map of the physical structure being disassembled. Simultaneously, the object is converted into transmittable information, also called the matter stream. The person being beamed is now converted into billions of kiloquads of data; one atom out of place and he or she is never to return.

The matter stream is then transmitted between locations through the system. As with any type of transmission of energy or radiation, scattering and degradation of the signal must be monitored closely. As such, an annular confinement beam (ACB) acts to maintain the integrity of the information contained in the beam. The matter stream is briefly stored in a pattern buffer while the system compensates for Doppler shift to the destination and then transmitted through an emitter pad. Finally, the initial process is reversed and the object or individual is reassembled at the destination.

A person being transported could freely move around, although it was advisable not to move too much while in transport.

Safety protocols and components

As with other Starfleet technology, the transporter had its own set of safety protocols and procedures. In an emergency, many of these safety systems could be modified or circumvented.

Biofilters were uniformly used on all Federation transporters by the 24th century. These filters functioned to decontaminate transported objects and prevent harmful substances, pathogens, and even certain forms of radiation (including theta radiation), from contaminating the rest of the ship.

Though biofilters performed a general contaminate removal with each transport, some novel contaminate removal required specific calibration in order for the filters to be effective. As such, biofilters were incapable of filtering out certain types of substances and pathogens, most notably psychic energy. Biofilters were also unable to detect and filter certain types of phased reality life forms without prior calibration. Biofilters also functioned to detect and disable weapons and explosives (remat detonators).

Additionally pattern buffers were used to compensate for relative motion during transport, ensuring that transported matter materialized in the correct location.

Except in cases of extreme emergency, protocols prohibited transporting objects while traveling at warp speed.

Diagnostic and maintenance tools

System components

Transporter types

Transporters types varied among the different species of the galaxy. 24th century Federation transporters emit a distinct blue "sparkle" when used, while Klingon transporters show a red/orange sparkle and Romulan transporters a green sparkle. Another difference was the speed by which a transporter operates. Compared to transporters used by the Hunters, a Gamma Quadrant species, in 2369, the Federation transporter was slow. Ferengi transporters were even slower because they used capacitors to build up their beam energy.

Furthermore, each type of transporter beam had a distinctive sound pattern associated with its employment. The sound pattern varied among types of transporter used by a given race and between types used by different races. Along with differences in "tone," the volume of the sound also varied. Klingon transporters in the 2260s, for example, were completely silent.

Almost all Starfleet facilities and starships were equipped with at least one transporter device. The number of transporter devices differ; for example, certain types of shuttlecraft had one transporter while Galaxy class starships had at least four. When cargo bays were present, these would often contain cargo transporters.

Production of Mark V transporters was halted in 2356. By 2371, Mark VI transporters were considered outdated. Mark VII transporters were able to transport biomatter, as long as the phase transition inhibitor was adjusted.


The most commonly used type of transporter was the personnel transporter, designed primarily for personnel.

Personnel transporter rooms usually consisted of a transporter console, a transporter platform] with an overhead molecular imaging scanner, primary energizing coils, and phase transition coils. A pattern buffer with a biofilter is located on the deck below the room. The outer hull of a starship incorporated a number of emitter pads for the transporter beam. Personnel transporters work on the quantum level and employ Heisenberg compensators to enable secure transport of lifeforms. Biofilters built into the transporter systems prevent dangerous microorganisms from boarding the ship.

The personnel transporter was a reliable but sometimes fragile piece of equipment. The phase coils in particular were vulnerable to feedback patterns and could be severely damaged as result of power surges or low-level phaser fire.


File:Galaxy cargobay.jpg
A cargo transporter aboard a Galaxy-class starship

Cargo transporters were larger scale versions of personnel transporters and were optimized for the transport of inanimate objects. In case of an emergency, cargo transporters could be reset to quantum-level mode, making lifeform transport possible. These transporters were adapted to handle massive quantities of material.

Cargo transporters were also specialized for transporting hazardous material and were mostly found inside the cargo bay of a starship or space station.


File:E transport unit picard.jpg
An emergency transport unit

Emergency transporters are a special form that can only beam someone from a ship or space station, not the other way around. Emergency transporters have a low power requirement; in case of a shipwide power failure, the crew could use these transporters for emergency evacuation.

By the late 24th century, emergency transport was further improved through development of a single-person, single-use, one-way emergency transport unit. The device was small enough to be hand-held and could transport to specified coordinates with a single touch. Because of its extreme limitations, this device was not widely deployed and was still considered a prototype in 2379.

Non-"beam" transporters

File:Spatial trajector.jpg
The spatial trajector, an example of a non-beam transporter

Certain Races and cultures|species have experimented with transporters that differ in technology and theory than those used by most species encountered by the Federation.

The Sikarians were known to use a folded-space transporter, relying on dimensional shifting rather than matter-to-energy conversion. Similarly, the Iconians perfected their own form of transport known as gateways which were capable of near instantaneous transport over vast distances.

Other transporters



Although beaming is quick, it has its limits. A person cannot stay within the matter stream too long. If this happens, his or her molecular pattern would degrade and the transporter signal would be lost. This signal must stay above fifty percent to be able to re-materialize the person. A time-frame of around 90 seconds was about the maximum before that fifty percent signal loss was reached.

The USS Voyager was able to extend this time by using pattern enhancers. In an effort to transport refugee Telepaths to another world, Captain Kathryn Janeway was able to hide many telepaths, in addition to a few of her crew, in the transporter buffers. This process is referred to as transporter suspension. However, this process produced serious complications. Because Voyager's guests and crew had to hide from Devorian authorities repeatedly over the course of several weeks, acute cellular degradation was found in many of the refugees and in Tuvok. Although the Doctor was able to treat them, the degradation is cumulative. If the process is continued, the person may not survive the transport.

Captain Montgomery Scott was also able to survive for a period of 75 years while suspended in a transporter buffer. However, these cases of prolonged suspension are quite rare and extremely dangerous.


In general, transporters could not be used while the deflector shield of a ship was active, or a deflector shield was in place over the destination. However, it was possible to take advantage of EM "windows" that were created by the normal rotation of shield frequencies. During these periods, a hole opened in which a transporter beam could punch through. To use this window, timing needed to be absolute and usually required substantial computer assistance. This technique was theorized and first practiced in 2367 by USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D transporter chief

Magnetic shields could also be used to prevent beaming. Rura Penthe was protected by such a shield to prevent prisoners from escaping.

There was a type of shielding that allowed transport, although it had the limitation of not allowing phasers to be fired through it.

The limitation of transporters versus shields was not universal, however. The Aldeans were able to pass through their own shielding using transporters, though the shielding was impenetrable to other forms of technology and weapons. Similarly, both the Borg and Dominion used transporter technology that was able to penetrate standard Federation shielding. Some adaptations, including rotating shield frequencies, could inhibit this ability but not eliminate it altogether.

Warp speed

Transporters were not allowed to be used while a ship was at warp speed because of the severe spatial distortions caused by its warp field. Transport at warp was highly dangerous and had been attempted safely only a handful of times. There were, however, ways to circumvent this limitation.

  • If both ships maintained exact velocity (i.e. the warp field on both vessels must have the same integral value/factor) transport at warp speed was possible. Failure to maintain the same velocities would result in severe loss of the ACB and pattern integrity.
  • If the ship was traveling at warp speed and the object to be beamed was stationary, transport was possible by synchronizing the ACB with the warp core frequency. The most difficult part was to get a good pattern lock. The Maquis used this method before.

Near-warp transport was also possible, but required extensive adjustments to the transport procedure. Persons who had experienced this form of transport remarked that there was a sensation of being merged with an inanimate object briefly before the transporter beam reassembled them.


The 24th century transporter maximum range was about 40,000, though a special type of transport, called subspace transport could beam over several light years. Many 24th century starships were equipped with an emergency transporter system, but these only had a range of at best ten kilometers.

Although having a maximum range of about 40,000 km, some conditions adversely affect the effective range. In at least one instance - possibly due to damage but not explicitly stated as such - the starship Voyager had to be within 500 km of a planet's surface to use transporters on Kathryn Janeway and the hologram character Leonardo da Vinci.

For context, 500 km above the surface of Earth would place the ship inside the ionosphere.

The maximum range of a transporter differs per species, depending on what kind of technologies they've used to build it. The transporter with the longest known range is that of the Sikarians, with a range of about 40,000 light years; however this was due to their planet's large quartz mantle which amplifies their transporter signal. Because of this, Sikarian transporter technology works only on Sikaris.

Dominion transporter technology, enhanced with a homing transponder, was said to have a range of at least three light years.

Radiation and substances

Some forms of radiation and substances, usually minerals such as kelbonite, prevented transporters from working. In most instances the interference was caused by scattering of the annular confinement beam or sensor interference preventing a transporter lock. Interference could be natural or artificial and usually occured during surface-to-starship transport but might also occur between vessels. Examples of other radiation and substance limitations are:


Over the centuries numerous devices have been designed to overcome some limitations of transporters, and still others to intentionally interfere with transporters.

File:Transporter crystal.jpg
A transporter tag given to Kira Nerys

By the 24th century, usage of pattern enhancers was common aboard most Starfleet vessels, most often deployed to a planet's surface during emergency situations where transport was critical.

Devices that were specifically designed to block transporter signals or to interfere with them were usually deployed under hostile conditions, thus making use of a transporter impossible or very dangerous and hampering maneuverability of personnel or material. Some of these devices were:

In 2375, Vedek Fala, gave a small crystal to Colonel Kira Nerys as a gift. The device, of unknown origin and design, was actually a transporter tag, which instantly transported her to Empok Nor several light years distant.

Also, in 2293, Spock used a Viridium patch to locate and lock on to Captain James T. Kirk and Dr. Leonard McCoy on Rura Penthe. While not a transporter device, it was used to locate the subject with the transporter.


Although someone with minor injuries could be transported, this was not possible when the injuries were extensive. When the brain stem was damaged and autonomic functions were failing, transport was only possible if a volunteer controlled the persons autonomic functions. This was done by placing a neural pad at the base of the skull of both individuals and then connect both persons via a medical tricorder. This way autonomic functions could be stabilized for a short period of time and made transport possible.

Special operations

Disabling active weapons

By the 24th century, the transporter had the capability to disable any active weapon during transport. This could be accomplished by removing the discharged energy from the transporter signal, or by "deactivating" the weapon itself.

Connecting two transporters

When necessary transporters could be bridged, Federation vessels could activate other Federation vessels' transporters remotely. This meant that two transporters could be connected to each other in the event beaming was not possible due to Ion storm or some other type of interference. The transport duration was twice as long and the sequence differed from a normal transport. First a remote link to the other transporter had to be established, then the system interlock needed to be engaged and the pattern buffers of both transporters were synchronized. When the phase transition coils were in stand-by mode energizing could commence. A side-effect of this form of transport might be that the person who was beamed might feel a slight tingling due to static.

"Site-To-Site" transport

The earliest example of site-to-site transport was in 2286. A HMS Bounty stolen by the crew of the late starship Enterprise had site to site transporter capabilities.

By 2364, limitations in pattern buffer and targeting scanner technology had been sufficiently overcome that it was now possible to transport from one location directly to another without the need to re-materialize the subject in between. This operation was enabled and controlled by the site-to-site transport interlocks. Site-to-site transport holds the matter stream in the pattern buffer while the ACB was re-targeted. Afterwards, the matter stream was redirected to the new location and normal re-materialzation was carried out.

This procedure was particularly useful in emergency medical situations where time is of the essence. Subjects could be beamed directly to sickbay where treatment could be carried out quickly. Using this technique, any computer terminal with access to the main transporter sub-systems, or any applicable sub-routine, could be used to control transporter operations, including bridge terminals. This technique could only be utilized when sufficient energy was available to the transporters; all normal transporter limitations would still apply. Even given this technique, the transporter rooms were still an important staging and reception area with the greatest amount of override and emergency operations available. Transporter rooms were maintained and manned during all normal duty cycles.

Transporter trace

A transporter trace was a stored copy of a subject's molecular pattern as scanned during a normal transporter cycle. While it is usually stored for security purposes, in extreme situations the transporter could be modified to use an older trace pattern in place of the latest scan for the purpose of re-configuring the matter stream during molecular conversion, effectively replacing a subject with a younger version of itself during matter re-construction. This technique was devised by Chief Miles O'Brien and Lieutenant Geordi La Forge during a mission to the Darwin Genetic Research Station in 2365. The transporter trace itself would be stored for the duration of the person's tour of duty; when that person was reassigned, his or her trace would be deleted.

Deflecting the transporter beam

A transporter beam could be deflected to different coordinates by a tractor beam so that the objects being transported would rematerialize at a point other than the intended target coordinates. Such action could only be detected by examining the transporter log. An unusual amount of antigraviton particles would be present in the emitter coil, as those particles do not occur naturally but are used by tractor beams. Locating the coordinates at which rematerialization took place was not possible; however, it was possible to calculate the point of origin of the tractor beam itself.

Single person transport

A transporter could be programmed to only allow one particular person to be transported to and from the transporter pad. Thus programmed, no other persons could use the transporter. If the use of the transporter was further prohibited, by use of an unknown access code, using the transporter was almost impossible. The only way to circumvent this lock-out was to use the transporter trace from the person who re-programmed the transporter and to input this into the transporter while it was in its testing mode. When in testing mode, a transporter would accept simulated inputs. When the main computer could not be used, several tricorders could be networked together to control the transporter. To circumvent the lock-out, access codes from a few bridge officers were necessary to force it in a recall loop. So, everyone who would beam down would be seen by the transporter as the person who re-programmed it in the first place.

Faking a transporter accident

A transporter accident could be faked in such a way that a transporter chief would think a person died during transport. For example, this could be done by adjusting the carrier wave of a second transporter to the carrier wave of the first. The person would then beam off the first transporter while the second transporter beamed in a small amount of genetically identical material.

Only a doctor could determine if this material was really the person in question. The transporter trace could be used to compare the logged DNA pattern "trace" to the "dead" person. Single-bit errors might be detected if the "dead" material was replicated

Only transporters that operate on the same subspace frequency as the spoofed transporter can be used for this type of ruse. For example, some Romulan transporters were capable of this.

Another indicator or such a ruse would be a temporary increase of the matter to energy ratio while transport was in progress. However, this increase could fall withing the nominal operational parameters of the transporter in question. Investigation of the transporter logs would be necessary to find evidence of a second transporter signal.

Other operations

Transporter accidents

Though transporters were a quite safe way to get from one point to another there were still cases of transporter accidents:

In 2151, Ensign Ethan Novakovich was beamed back from the face of a planet later known as Archer IV by the still-experimental transporter system aboard the Enterprise (NX-01). Upon arrival, he was unconsious and had rocks, leaves and other debris from the planet's surface embedded in his skin. Phlox was able to remove the debris and repair the rather extensive damage, and Novakovich was expected to fully recover.

On stardate 1672.1, in 2266, a strange ore had altered the function of the transporter, causing the most bizarre transporter accident on record in which Captain Kirk was split into two: One embodied all of Kirk's so-called positive qualities and the other part that was evil. It was some time before the mishap was discovered, and the malignant version of Kirk roamed the ship, stealing liquor, assaulting crewmen, and even attempting to rape Yeoman Janice Rand]]. When he was cornered, and finally captured in the engine room, his errant phaser shot damaged the transporter further. Scotty and Spock isolated and repaired all the damage.

Their repairs were confirmed when a test animal, previously split, was sent through the transporter in an attempt to reintegrate the two creatures. Upon reintegrating, it rematerialized dead. Crippled with indecision, Kirk was able, barely, to make the trip, and his two halves were reintegrated once again.

In 2267, an ion storm caused a transporter accident. After failing to persuade the Halkan Council to allow the Federation to mine dilithium in on their planet, a USS Enterprise NCC-1701 landing party, expecting to beam back on to their ship, were beamed aboard the unfamiliar ISS Enterprise (NCC-1701) in the Mirror Universe. Upon beaming aboard, they discovered that the peace-loving United Federation of Planets had been replaced with a brutal Terran Empire, and that they had their own "mirror" counterparts.

File:Sonak dead.jpg
The death of Commander Sonak] in 2272

In 2272, two Enterprise crewmen, including Commander Sonak, were killed in a transporter malfunction when beaming up to the ship while the Enterprise transporter was down for repairs.

In 2361, on Nervala IV, the USS Potemkin was conducting an evacuation of the science outpost on the planet. Lieutenant William T. Riker was part of the away team at the time. An unusual distortion field meant the Potemkin had difficulty beaming up Riker. A second confinement beam was initiated to overcome these difficulties, with the intent of reintegrating the two beams in the transporter buffer.

This was unnecessary as only one beam was successful at transporting Riker, the modulation of the distortion caused the second beam to be reflected back down to the surface, materializing two Rikers, one on the ship, and Thomas Riker on the planet's surface. The Potemkin left orbit, unknowingly abandoning the duplicate Riker. After eight years, this accident was discovered by the Enterprise-D who revisisted the planet, found Lieutenant Riker and brought him back to the ship.

In 2371, Benjamin Sisko, Julian Bashir and Jadzia Dax were accidently transported to the year 2024, by an explosion in a microscopic singularity while passing through the solar system at the time of the beam-out. Fortunately, Miles O'Brien was able to devise a way to send Kira Nerys and himself to different periods of Earth's history to try and find out where the away team was sent, and then bring them back home. However, while in the 21st century, Sisko accidentally caused the death of Gabriel Bell, forcing him to assume the identity of this historical figure. As a result, Sisko is actually in all the historical photos of Bell.

In 2372, the patterns of Sisko, Kira, Worf, Dax, and Miles O'Brien were temporarily stored in the computer core of Deep Space 9 to prevent their patterns from degrading because of an explosion on their runabout at the time of beam-out. They were integrated into a holoprogram run by Julian Bashir, and each took on one of the holographic roles in the program. Eventually, Michael Eddington was able to restore the crewmembers back to normal.

Lysosomal enzymes of an alien orchid were the cause of another accident in that same year. Tuvok and Neelix were temporarily merged into one being during transport with the orchid. Tuvix, as he named himself (or themselves), was a complete mixture of the talents of both crewmembers. After discovering how to separate the two patterns and retrieve both Tuvok and Neelix, Tuvix protested but the procedure was undertaken anyway.

In early 2375, Weyoun 5 was killed in a transporter accident. Damar was to have been with him but "had been called away".

OOC Information: Taken and modified from Memory Alpha