At the start of Star Trek: First Contact, the Enterprise follows a Borg sphere into the past to stop them from changing history - preventing first contact with the Vulcans and assimilating Earth. It is made clear that the Enterprise itself does not possess the technology to travel through time and with this in mind it is unlikely that the people of Earth from a time pre-dating the Federation had time travel capabilities either.

At the end of the movie, once first contact has been made, how did the Enterprise return to their own timeline?

  • 2
    We never actually see the Enterprise return to its time. I like to imagine that there's a deleted scene (or an entire deleted movie) that shows their time travel attempts failing--Picard grows angry, LaForge becomes embarrassed, Data invents ever stranger physics--until they finally find their way back.
    – FredH
    Jun 25, 2013 at 21:12

2 Answers 2


The Borg sphere's approach to time travel is described in two lines of the movie:

DATA: Sensors show chronometric particles emanating from the sphere.

PICARD: They're creating a temporal vortex.

The troublesome question of how the Enterprise returns is dealt with just as abruptly at the end of the film:

LAFORGE: Captain. I've reconfigured our warp field to match the chronometric readings of the Borg sphere.

PICARD: Re-create the vortex, commander.

So the Federation may not have the knowledge to make their own custom time vortex, but they can at least copy what the Borg have done. A case of "monkey see, monkey do".

  • 3
    Is it just me that wonders, if the vortex takes someone back 200 years in time why didn't they end up in 1863!?
    – Liath
    Sep 27, 2013 at 11:36

The Enterprise recreates the temporal vortex that the Borg created and get back to their own timeline. From Memory Alpha:

Scanning Earth, the Enterprise crew found that, in the new timeline, humanity had been assimilated, and realized that they had to follow the sphere through the rift in order to correct the damage done to history. Later, after having successfully restored the timeline, Commander Geordi La Forge was able to reconfigure the Enterprise's warp field to match the chronometric readings of the sphere, thereby recreating the vortex and allowing the ship to return to its own time.

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