Atmospheric reentry/exit in the Star Trek canon?
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Join Date: Dec 2007
03-18-2012, 10:18 PM
I think the crash in Generations was very much a matter of power. Generations wasn't the Enterprise D's only atmospheric entry. In The Arsenal of Freedom it was able to enter and then leave an atmosphere while the ship wasn't separated, i.e. it still had its warp core. Without the warp core connected, the saucer can't really do much. It can limp around at impulse, but generally it's stuck siting around and waiting for the stardrive or a tow to come pick it up.
One of the reasons that ships need the crazy power levels the warp core puts out is that half of the stuff they do is explained by bending space and altering fundamental laws of motion around them. The Bird of Prey in ST IV created less of a thrust wash than a small helicopter does when it took off, so it appears their ability to disregard physics still works in an atmosphere. In Aresenal, the Enterprise had its full capabilities and was able to exit the atmosphere again. In Generations it didn't, so it was doomed as soon as the explosion pushed them into an orbit that intersected the planet (assuming they didn't disconnect already in a doomed orbit).