I was watching one of TOS’ reruns yesterday, and heard the ubiquitous destination of “Starbase .” This got me to thinking about the environmental/material reconstitution systems on board the Enterprise(s).
At least by 1701-D, there were food replicators, and waste recycling systems on board, with Bussard ramscoops to collect particulate matter. I don’t think the ramscoops were installed on Enterprise “A”, but I’m almost certain food replicators and waste recycling systems were onboard. If they could dematerialize humans for transportation, they could dematerialize last week’s leftovers into new meals.
Notwithstanding consumable weapons (photon torpedoes specifically, but I reckon could be replicated in a pinch), and notwithstanding crew replacement (Redshirts are apparently non-replaceable consumables), couldn’t the NCC-1701 realistically be ‘out there’ indefinitely, without the need to visit a Starbase?
- Water and breathable atmospheres can be recycled, or ‘topped off’ at any M-Class planet, or harvested from nebulae.
- Raw materials (iron, nickel, gold, etc.) can also be found in asteroids.
- At least on the “D,” you have holodecks for recreation. No need to swing by Risa or Wrigley’s pleasure planet every three weeks. . .
- Last night’s sewage? Beep boop beep + replicator = Tomorrow night’s surf ‘n’ turf in the Officer’s Lounge.
- Voyager didn’t have access to Starbases, and IIRC, they turned out alright. . . I haven’t watched the full series yet, so I could be mistaken. No spoilers here!
So, besides generating plot points for story arcs, what was the point of the Enterprise seemingly needing to swing by Starbases?
I could see replenishment of Romulan Ale being a possibility.