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Life support belt

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Life support belt
The life support belt in action
Engineering computer core and hatch
A life support belt protects Scotty

The life support belt is a personal force field that supplies the wearer with the appropriate atmosphere and protects them from the elements. Life support belts were used by Starfleet personnel in the late 2260s and the early 2270s aboard the USS Enterprise. (Star Trek: The Animated Series)

Environmental suits were again used for the same purpose from Star Trek: The Motion Picture onward.

Appearances

Background

Although used exclusively in TAS, the life-support belt was invented during the run of Star Trek: The Original Series. Judy Burns, co-writer of "The Tholian Web", thought of using battery-powered "force field belts" in that episode, but the series' producers decided to feature EV suits instead. "They felt strongly that if they started something like a force field belt," explained Burns, "it might have ramifications down the line on other stories. I was a novice in those days, but today I probably would have countered that it was a prototype model that had been given to us this one time. In 25 years, we would get it back again." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, 3rd ed., p. 72)

In the script for "Beyond the Farthest Star", life support belts are introduced with the description, "The belts are wide, utility-type belts that glow with a pale, lime-yellow aura when turned on. This aura surrounds the wearer, like an envelope of air surrounds the Earth; it supplies air, and being a force-field, prevents harm to the person inside it, as it is almost totally impenetrable."

"Life support system belts" were additionally referred to in the first-draft script of "In Thy Image", the story that gradually developed into Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In that script, Scott told Kirk – upon the captain's arrival in a transporter room with Xon and the Ilia probe – that they wouldn't require such belts for transport to Ve-jur, as a gravitational field and an oxygen atmosphere envelope were forming inside the craft. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 204)

While the Starfleet life support belt was never seen again, there were a few other examples of personal force fields in later spin-offs.

Apocrypha

In the novelization of TAS: "The Survivor" (as published in Star Trek Log 2), a Vendorian disguised as Carter Winston is said to have a life-support belt that he deactivates moments after being beamed aboard the Enterprise.

In the novelization of TAS: "The Lorelei Signal" (also published in Star Trek Log 2), life-support belts are considered for use when, just before beaming down to the unfamiliar surface of Taurus II, Kirk asks Spock about them. Under the influence of an hallucination-evoking signal from the planet, however, Spock casually deems use of the belts unnecessary on that occasion.

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