|Bottom view, docked|
|Owner:||United Federation of Planets|
An aeroshuttle was a runabout-like spacecraft embedded in the saucer underside of Intrepid-class starships. In 2376, Dala and Zar, posing as Captain Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay, showed Varn a schematic of the USS Voyager which identified its aeroshuttle. (VOY: "Live Fast and Prosper") A graphic of an aeroshuttle also appeared in Daniels' database while it was being viewed by Captain Archer and T'Pol in 2152. (ENT: "Future Tense")
The aeroshuttle was initially not represented on Voyager's master systems display as devised by Doug Drexler, seen in the early episodes, but showed up in the graphic from "Phage" onward. Dexler clarified, "I drew the original MSD for the back of the bridge. After that, Wendy cut and pasted it to suit episode specific situations." wbm to which designer Rick Sternbach half jokingly added, "The screenshots that do show the AeroShuttle (outline or filled) seem to be of the early shape that I can only describe as looking like George Jetson's flying car. I don't believe the true elevation was ever inserted into the cutaway art." wbm
Sternbach's original design for the Aeroshuttle of March 1994, listed the following specifications: wbm
- Starfleet styling
- Evolved runabout-type structural elements
- Integrated impulse and warp reactors
- In-wing imbedded warp nacelles
- Side and aft entry hatches
- Shuttle underside contiguous with Voyager hull bottom
- Wingtip lift engines
- Forward microtorpedo launcher
- Standard Starfleet features; phasers, maneuvering thrusters, sensor strips, windows, and hull markings
The official name of this spacecraft was changed from AeroWing because of an existing Mighty Ducks trademark.  According to the VOY writers' guidebook, Star Trek: Voyager Technical Manual, when detached, its aeroshuttle was capable of atmospheric flight as well as interstellar travel at speeds up to warp 3. The cockpit was designed for a crew of four. Despite this description, the writers never used Voyager's aeroshuttle, prompting Rick Sternbach to develop the following explanation for his Star Trek: The Magazine article "Intrepid-Class Lineage":
"The Aeroshuttle was the only upgraded component to the Intrepid-class that remained in the development cycle long after the other major systems had been frozen and released for fabrication and assembly.
"Based on the existing Starfleet runabout platform, the Aeroshuttle was given a 450 percent increase in atmospheric flight and hover endurance over standard shuttlecraft. This was accomplished through the use of hybrid microfusion and EM driven airflow coil engines.
"Although the Aeroshuttle spaceframe and basic systems were completed by Stardate 46875.3, final outfitting of mission-specific hardware was delayed until simulations and flight testing with the USS Intrepid could be completed."
- Mission requirements: Independent warp flight operations, defense of home vessel, extended planetary landing and reconnaissance tasks and crew evacuation
- Design based on the Danube-class runabout hull, without the modular approach
- Construction started in 2369 with an initial procurement order of 2 prototypes and 15 production vehicles of which 7 were slated to be integrated into the Intrepid-class starships, while the remaining 8 others would be assigned to other starships (as shuttles), miscellaneous Starfleet installations or as independent flyers.
- Unlike the Danube-class, aeroshuttles were not to be designated unique vessel class status and thus did not receive registry numbers
- Status report on the units whose missions are not classified as per stardate 56734.21:
|Hull #||Attached to||Remarks|
|AS-503||USS Voyager||Operational; overhaul in progress|
|AS-506||Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards||Operational; warp research|
|AS-509||Jupiter Station||Operational;experiment transport|
|AS-514||Starfleet HQ||Operational; Courier|
|AS-515||Starfleet HQ||Operational; research; Testing upgrades|
The aeroshuttle originated as a design by Rick Sternbach who conceived it as early March 1994 as part of the design process of the USS Voyager, labeling his design "Manta Shuttle". wbm As to the function of the wings, he stated, "Wings aren't so much wings in the 24th century when we have EM field effect lift and impulse thrust and mass-reduction technology. The AeroShuttle appendages are more pylons for the warp nacelles and landing gear and RCS gear. They look cool, but they aren't designed to be aerodynamic." wbm Sternbach purposefully endowed his design with a Danube-class cockpit so that use could be made of the existing interior cockpit sets of that class, "The original proposal drawing of the "Manta" shuttle was included in the ton of other Voyager drawings for the producers, and the idea for using at least the Runabout cockpit was part of that. Foundation requested the Manta art as a starting point for the Aerowing (more properly called the AeroShuttle due to a toy licensing conflict), so that was provided, along with the ventral outline from the 5' Voyager blueprints. It's really too bad that we couldn't have used the AeroShuttle somewhere, but we can chalk that up to weird decisions about captain's yachts, money, and segregation of the different series' assets." wbm
Sternbach shortly revisited his design, as the aeroshuttle was tapped to make an appearance, not in the show, but in the licensed book, Star Trek: Starship Spotter, "Basically, I did the original "Manta" sketch and the bottom view (more for the Voyager miniature than anything else at the time). I think I pretty much just eliminated the protrusions in the front and bobbed the tail; sometimes something just looks better or fits the originating culture more consistently. Foundation extrapolated the full AeroShuttle from both bits of art, with the bottom view driving some minor shape changes like the nacelle fronts. I didn't do any revising after that and there was no real feedback related to the original art bits." wbm Rob Bonchune, who eventually created a full rendering of Voyager's aeroshuttle, added, "In a nutshell, back at Foundation, we got into our heads that it would be cool to see the "captain's yacht" of the Voyager, that being the AeroShuttle. Rick Sternbach gratuitously did a prelim design and I used part of that and designed the ship you see here. Mojo and I did a whole launch sequence, on spec, meaning "free" and then had it shown to Rick Berman. The response: Mr. Berman thought it was nice, but didn't want to trump the captain's yacht launch sequence from the upcoming film Star Trek: Insurrection. As you remember that was a VERY dramatic, epic and cool launch sequence." 
With regards to the design, Bonchune stated, "Well, I remember Rick Sternbach saying that the four protruding rectangles represent landing pads. Seems silly as in scale they are way oversized. But, for the big Voyager miniature, I guess it was added detail."  As for what happened to the initial project, Bonchune said that "if we had aired the ship, I was going to refine the wings to be a little less "blunt trauma" to the aerodynamics. But when we got nixed, we moved on... so, it stands as is."  Rob Bonchune's website features a video of an aeroshuttle launch, likely from the original proposal.
The CGI model was first presented to the general public in 2001, in the Star Trek: Starship Spotter to which co-author Alex Rosenzweig commented, "When I worked on aeroshuttle text for Starship Spotter, I had a whole paragraph that I wrote, talking about how the Voyager's aeroshuttle hadn't been ready when the ship went on its mission into the Badlands, and how the completed shuttle was finally fitted to the refitted Voyager with great ceremony and circumstance after the ship's return from the Delta Quadrant. Alas, the rule from Licensing was that we weren't allowed to invent stuff like that, which hadn't been established on the show, so nothing came of said idea. But it was very much based on my agreement with you that a vehicle like the aeroshuttle would have made the Delta Flyer utterly unnecessary. Oh, well..." wbm Rosenzweig's notion was partially followed by Sternbach in his later Starfleet Technical Database article.
Orthographic views of the model were published in 2003, in the Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 12, pages 83-85. Bonchune's render of Voyager's aeroshuttle was featured in the April spread of the Star Trek: Ships of the Line (2007) calendar, entitled "Deployed".