The Upside-down Piggieback Maneuver (TOUPM)

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Vol. 324, No. 2, Stardate 239404

The Upside-down Piggieback Maneuver (TOUPM)

T'Lea, Oddas Aria


On Stardate 239401.03 the USS Thunder-A (NCC 70605-A, Akira Class) was disabled and in enemy space. Running on minimal power and with no time to re-power its warp engines, a plan had to be found to tow it back to Federation space through a Quantum Slipstream.

The much larger USS Discovery-C (NCC 31929-C, Sovereign Class) was nearby and tasked to assist in the maneuver. USS Thunder Chief Science Officer Lieutenant Commander T’Lea and USS Thunder Chief Engineer Lieutenant Oddas Aria designed the maneuver described below to quickly bring the ship home and avoid a conflict over the disabled ship with unknown enemies.

The maneuver to bring both ships home was deemed the ‘T’Lea/Oddas Upside-Down Piggieback Maneuver’, or TOUPM for short.

Maneuver Details

Vehicle Placement

In the field, the smaller ship, the Thunder, was maneuvered, inverted, to a negative Z position relative to the larger ship, the Discovery. The distance needed between the ships for the maneuver to work was no more than 10 meters in the Z axis and no more than 5 meters from the center in X axis. The Thunder was centered along a calculated rear transversal of the Discovery’s mass on the remaining direction calculated by the deflector frequency in use at the time (see attached data logs and appendixes for equations and specifications).

TOUPM Configuration
Figure 1 TOUPM Configuration

Tractor Beams

Once placement of the smaller vessel is confirmed each vessel’s tractor beams were engaged on the other’s vessel, anchoring them to each other. Exact placement, according to both field testing and extensive simulations indicate an approach of using the smaller vessel’s tractor beams to anchor its primary hull to the secondary hull of the larger vessel and vice versa.

During the fielding of the TOUPM care was taken to ensure the tractor beams of both vessels matched exactly through a computer link controlling both placement and frequency parameters. Simulations later showed without this precaution the tractor beams would have become destabilized during the tow and shearing would have cause at least one total vehicle loss.


Since the typical quantum slipstream is not designed to encompass more than one vehicle, due to the size constraints of the deflector field, a procedure had to be designed in order to expand the field to encompass the Thunder. With some modification the Thunder’s deflector array emitted a chronoton pulse at the inverse frequency of the Discovery’s deflector field. The inverse frequency worked to mush the quantum slipstream around the increased geometry of both vehicles and gained enough of a slip stream efficiency to allow both ships to travel in the stream generated by one ship (see figure 1).

Maneuver Operation

To begin the maneuver the larger of the two vehicles, once tractor beams are engaged, ships are in position, and the smaller ship’s deflector array is programmed, engages its Quantum Slipstream Drive. The smaller ship, at the same moment, engages its deflector and emits the chronoton pulse. The larger ship will go into QSS and the smaller ship will be towed along with it until the QSSD is disengaged.


The TOUPM was successful in the field, in the tradition of many engineering feats of Starfleet are when they are required. When looking at simulation data however (see attached data) it seems the field work was an example of the odds being in the crew’s favor.

Simulations show the maneuver has a probable failure rate of 75.23%. The failure rate increases the larger the mass differential between the two vessels, the actual failure probability as the maneuver was first attempted was 87%.

It is the recommendation of the authors the TOUPM not be attempted unless specialized equipment can be designed and installed to lessen the failure rates.