We all have our favourite starship, be it the original Enterprise, the bloody A, B, C, D or E, maybe the Reliant or the Defiant. Whatever the ships name, or it’s class, there are a bunch of Starfleet vessels that always gets over looked. The auxiliary craft. I’m talking about the Shuttle Pod, the Work Bee, the Air Tram and the Shuttle Craft.
For this part I’m going to look at all the above aside from the shuttle craft, they will be looked at in part 2, so where do I begin?
The Air Tram.
Aside from the Klingon Battle Cruisers seen at the start of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the very first new Federation vessel seen since the Original Series was the Air Tram. One of these craft, Tram number 3, delivered Admiral Kirk to Starfleet Command for his meeting with Admiral Nogura. The Trams operated between Tram Stations that are located around the planet.
Air Tram 3: In the original edit of the The Motion Picture, this air tram approached the city from the north, alongside the bay side of the Golden Gate Bridge. This flight path was changed for the director’s edition DVD release of the film. In this cut, the air tram approached the city from the north-west, flew over the bridge and through the two towers, and headed south towards the station.
Air Tram 14: This air tram was the closest to air tram 3 after it had landed. In the director’s edition DVD release of the movie, air tram 14 was changed in appearance, and the hull number was no longer visible.
The powerhouse of the Federation, these little two person craft, more commonly known as CMU’s or Cargo Management Units, were first seen in The Motion Picture around the orbital office complex and working around the refitted U.S.S. Enterprise while at the San Francisco Fleet Yards. These yellow or grey coloured craft were used to tow cargo to and from Earth, orbital facilities and between ships.
The Cargo Management Unit was never identified by name in dialog; the name was only seen, on a display in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Coming of Age”. During the absence of a name, the moniker “Work Bee” was adopted by many publications, official and unofficial, including the reference work Star Trek: The Motion Picture Blueprints, co-created by Andrew Probert and David A. Kimble.
The CMU was designed by Probert for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He later remarked, “The work bee turned out just fine.” The studio model of the CMU was filmed in the summer of 1978, on one of Douglas Trumbull’s stages at Future General Corporation.
Despite being proud of the CMU’s design, Probert also felt that, in The Motion Picture, not enough articulation was shown in the craft. For instance, he believed that “it would have been fun” to see the CMUs enter a garage area that was included in the film’s drydock. “There were supposed to have been numerous Bees, doing whatever tasks with their manipulator arms, or towing things, or whatever, and they didn’t show enough of that,” Probert commented. “And… I would have liked to have seen them drifting, or moving, or gliding/crabbing sideways through space, or rotating. They do have one that kind of rolls… but there should have been a lot more of that.” An unused design for the Enterprise cargo/shuttlebay showed several docking ports where CMUs could attach to the ship, which were described in Mr. Scott’s Guide to the Enterprise.
The CMU was additionally seen in footage recycled in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and during the Enterprise-B launch in Star Trek Generations. The craft was physically brought to the 24th century when it was included in a montage of different scenes during the main titles of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, beginning with that series’ fourth season. These scenes were also used for external shots of the station in various episodes. A computer-generated model was also created, and seen at Utopia Planitia during the flashbacks to the USS Voyager’s launch during “Relativity”.
Probert designed a follow-up craft to the CMU, dubbed the Sphinx Workpod, during the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although it was never built as a miniature or explicitly seen, it may have been included in the matte painting of Starbase 74 in “11001001”. The new workpod was also featured in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual and Star Trek: Starship Creator.
Another new piece of Starfleet hardware, again first seen in The Motion Picture is the Travel Pod. A travel pod was a small Federation shuttlepod predominately used during the 23rd century by facilities like the San Francisco Fleet Yards to transfer personnel to drydocks or starships without having to use transporters. These vessels had a flight crew that could include one pilot and up to seven passengers.
Travel Pod 5, piloted by Scotty, took Admiral Kirk on a fly around of the band new U.S.S. Enterprise, before finally docking on the port engineering section airlock.
These vessels had a flight crew that could include one pilot and up to seven passengers. The Travel Pod seen in The Motion Picture had the number 5 painted on it’s hull, and was seen again in The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home.
The Federation orbital shuttle was a type of shuttlecraft utilized in and around Earth and Earth Spacedock. Shuttles of this design remained in service on Earth and in orbital facilities even past the mid-24th century.
Numerous Orbital Shuttles were seen on screen, beginning in The Search for Spock, where shuttle number 6 was seen flying past a docking U.S.S. Enterprise inside Earth Spacedock, number 5 undergoing maintenance in San Francisco in The Voyage Home, and number 7, which also flew past the Enterprise in The Search for Spock and was again seen escorting Shuttle Pod 5 inside Spacedock in The Voyage Home. It was seen again flying towards the Excelsior in The Final Frontier.
More info here
Another shuttle that was attached to Spacedock was the SD-103 (Spacedock-103). This shuttle ferried the command crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-A which was docked within Spacedock before departing for its rendezvous with the Klingon Battle Cruiser Kronos 1 in The Undiscovered Country.
The registry number of the shuttle has never been legible in the movie, but was derived from a behind-the-scenes picture of the model that was later published in the reference book, Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Continuing Mission.
The model was designed and built by Bill George and John Goodson at ILM and was later modified and reused as the USS Jenolen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation sixth season episode “Relics” in 1992.
Studio model info here