Star Trek 101, StarTrek.com's newest regular column, serves two functions: succinctly introduce Star Trek newcomers to the basic foundations and elements of the franchise and refresh the memories of longtime Trek fans. We're pulling our entries from the book Star Trek 101: A Practical Guide to Who, What, Where, And Why, written by Terry J. Erdmann & Paula M. Block and published in 2008 by Pocket Books. An invaluable resource, it encompasses The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, as well as the first 10 Trek feature films. Today, we learn about the "life support belt" as seen on Star Trek: The Animated Series.
One the live-action Star Trek that preceded the animated series -- and every other version of Star Trek that followed -- Starfleet crews had to dress up in big, cumbersome space suits to survive in the vacuum of space. But on this show, when one of them wants to take a walk outside the ship, he simply throws on a "life support belt" and pushes a little button.
Presto! A glowing force field appears around him and he can traipse through that chilly oxygen-free vacuum of space as if it were a sunny day at the beach. Not only that, but he can have a conversation with the belted crewman standing next to him, despite the absence of atmosphere to conduct the sound waves.
Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann are coauthors of numerous books about the entertainment industry, including Star Trek 101; Star Trek Costumes: Fifty Years of Fashion from the Final Frontier; Star Trek: The Original Series 365; and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion. They currently are writing the latest in their series of Ferengi novellas, which (so far) includes Lust’s Latinum Lost (and Found); and Rules of Accusation. Their most recent non-Star Trek book is Labyrinth: The Ultimate Visual History.