Instead of using shuttles and other small craft to travel to and from their ships, Starfleet personnel can take advantage of one of the most miraculous of the Federations technological achievements; the transporter. Transporters dematerialize a subject or object, transforming it from matter into energy, use a narrow-focus subspace carrier wave to transport the energy back into matter, which was dematerialized. Thus, a person can transport carrying her/his equipment without worrying about having a phaser’s atoms mixed in with his, or his hair coming out blonde instead of black, or his tricorders failing to work.
Whenever any person or object is transported the carrier wave includes a transporter ID trace—a computer record of the entire transport process. In the event of an accident, personnel can review the trace to try to find out what happened and, if possible, correct the situation. The Transport process takes about five seconds (1 full round/post) when using Federation equipment; other species transporters may work a little slower or faster. Problems such as interference or equipment malfunctions may slow the process considerably, or pose a risk to the subject. Operating a transporter is often a delicate and complex task, and even the lightest interference can render a transport dangerous. Problems can easily result in ‘losing’ a persons pattern forever or an improper materialization (almost always fatal) or sometimes even more bizarre fates—individuals duplicated or divided into two separate beings, two persons melded into one, or temporal or dimensional rifts (which cause a subject to end up in a different time or dimension than he transported from), just to name a few horrific examples. Fortunately, such accidents are extraordinarily rare—multiple redundancies and safety procedures ensure that the vast majority of transports are absolutely safe, routine, and uneventful. A transporter will not work through a shield or through a cloak. However, there are sometimes ways to avoid these restrictions.
There are three types of transporters. The first, the personnel transporter, is primarily designed to transport humanoids and has a normal range of up to 40,000 kilometers. The second, the emergency transporter, is used to beam personnel away from the ship in evacuation situations; it cannot beam people into a ship unless specifically modified, and usually only has a range of 15,000 kilometers. Both of these transporters can also be used to transport objects, provided they fit on the transporter pads.
The third is the cargo transporter, which is mainly used for cargo and other bulky objects; it has a standard range of up to 40,000 kilometers. Cargo transporters only work at the molecular level, and so cannot safely transport living beings (or they would die). Though, a cargo transporter can be modified for quantum-level operations of normal personnel and emergency transporters. This is usually applied to evacuation situations, either to or from a ship, or for massive boarding operations, where vast amounts of troops or similar personnel are transported to a vessel to seize it in some fashion. This tactic was originally instituted by the Klingons in the 23rd century, and later adapted to Federation technologies, including the multi-phase tractor beam ACB emitter options.
Ships may have the following non-standard types of transporters, provided they’re available for Starfleet use.
Based upon several different technologies, acquired from Borg, Dominion, and advances in subspace transporter technology provided by both aforementioned sources, transparamic transporters can transport a person and/or objects up to three light-years in range, as well as retrieve personnel as well. Borg and Dominion Transporters also have the ability to effortlessly penetrate shields far easier than standard transporters of species of a similar or less advanced technological level than the Federation. The Dominion was able to do this until 2373 until Starfleet was able to counter the effects of their transporters and adapt them to their own. This was further assisted upon direct examination of Borg technologies. They’re only able to penetrate shields when they’re in a state of flux or disruptions from attack, and are also calibrated for ‘narrow-beam’ transport; where the Annular Confinement Beam (ACB) is restricted to a one-way modulated energy wave to allow transport through shields (but, not to return the transported people/objects back to the ship while the shields are raised). This advantage is often used by Starfleet vessels so equipped with transparamic transporters by their commanders to transport explosives, decoys, and mines around or in the path of attacking vessels.
The transparamic transporter works by putting a matter stream into a state of quantum-dynamic flux and transporting it through subspace instead of normal space. The benefit of this is that it allows a much greater range of transport; up to three light-years. Previously, subspace transporters were considered an unreliable source of technology because the quantum flux stream was unstable, which would cause problems for persons or objects transported. Dominion and Borg technologies solved these technological gaps in 2375, allowing for transparamic transporters to become a reliable new technology to be installed on Starfleet vessels.
Transparamic transporters also allow for Multidimensional/Quantum reality transport use, as was displayed in 2267 involving some of the crew of the original USS Enterprise revealed the existence of a ‘mirror universe’. Later, it was discovered that this alternate reality was one out of an infinite number of quantum realities in existence itself, corresponding on a parallel plane of reality as our own. The UEP invasion of the early 2370’s showed Starfleet that these other dimensions would not remain dormant as Starfleet and some others might, and steps were needed to access and/or counteract these ‘invaders’ from other realms. The transporter can be properly calibrated to transport between dimensions if so needed, and the exact quantum signature of the destination reality is input into the transporter system.
Based upon the so-called Elway Theorem, this type of transporter folds space to transport persons or objects across great distances. However, each use of a folded space transporter causes irreversible damage to the organic subject; but not inorganic matter to the same extent. Starfleet has banned the use of Folded Space Transport on Organic beings, but, has equipped some of its most advanced starships with FST emitters for tactical purposes, such as was used during a Borg incursion of Sector 001 in 2378 where the USS Camarilla transported cobalt-thorium devices directly into the heart of a massive Borg Tactical Fusion Cube. That tactical advantage has not been ignored by Starfleet command.
Temporal transporters, a highly advanced for of technology, transport persons or objects backwards or forwards through time, rather than across distances. All societies heavily restrict their use and keep their existence secret.
To transport a subject temporally, a temporal beacon—a small, triangular badge—must be used. Any given person can only be safely transported a number of times equal to her/his fitness and health within a 24-hour period. If temporally transported more than that, she/he will suffer the effects of temporal narcosis.
If a subject is sent to one of his foreseeable futures, a responsible temporal transporter operator will resequence the subjects memory engrams to prevent her/him from returning to her/his normal time-frame with knowledge of the future; if not, she/he is simply given a stern warning about the Temporal Prime Directive (or like regulation) before being returned to her/his proper time-frame.