How could Voyager navigate inside the starless void? Especially since it was very large. Taking one year to cross. Some sort of inertial navigation maybe?

3 Answers 3


Voyager's navigational computer was able to calculate it's relative distance from Earth from the very first moment it was in the Delta Quadrant (70 thousand light-years). Not only that, but the amount of times Janeway told Paris to 're-set a course for home' (after having made a detour or three), makes it seem that such a distance could be plotted fairly quickly.

Their trip home was originally estimated at around 75 years. This was based on both the ship's speed, and the distance from home. Knowing this, one year's worth of 'Starless void' would seem like nothing for the navigational computer to plot a course through. All they would have to do is pick a point or two on the other side of the void, and constantly measure distance and heading from those points, to make sure they kept on a steady track.

  • They just had to hope they didn't need to switch it off and on again!
    – Liath
    Aug 19, 2013 at 16:29

This is largely explained in the episode. In addition to the ship's sensors (which Tom states are capable of detecting that the ship is at traveling at warp speed), Seven has completed an astrometric survey of the region and has noted a considerable number of features, including pockets of radiation. Even if the void was actually a 'void' you could navigate by those alone.

SEVEN: Then I must disobey. I have no good news to report. I've completed an astrometric scan of the entire region. There are no star systems within twenty five hundred light years.


CHAKOTAY: Anything new on sensors?

TUVOK: I've detected a sudden increase in theta radiation in the vicinity.

On top of that, we can ascertain from other episodes (notably TNG: Where Silence has Lease) that starships routinely use an "Inertial Guidance System" which evidently works extremely well, even in an environment where other sensors show no usable readings. It seems vanishingly unlikely that the crew of Voyager wouldn't be able to cobble one of those together, even if Voyager doesn't already come equipped with it.

PICARD: We should be seeing stars by now, Data. How far have we come?

DATA: Inertial guidance shows seven parsecs traveled, Captain.


Space navigation is a awkward concept, but the technology they use is no different that what we actually use. The "Inertial Navigation System" operates by use motion and rotation gyroscopes and sensors thus it can determines position, orientation, and speed of the vehicle without using the stars, Sun, Moon, planets or some outside visual reference. This was used by Apollo program to create a computer controlled navigation system enter image description here

Another method is use of X-ray/Gamma pulsars which permeate across the galaxy, the hyper bright burst of quasars. These objects remain fairly static and their pulse frequency is an ideal method to compare various distances.

Starfleet/Federation also makes use of Automated and manned Subspace relay units, these units will act as continuation carriers for communication of subspace signals beyond 20+ lightyear threshold capable for typical high resolution communication. "The Cell towers of the galaxy." enter image description here enter image description here

A starfleet vessel drops one stationary automated unit every few lightyears in open space until either permanent manned units and bases are erected or until improvements in long distance communications render them redundant.

Voyager could easily have dropped 2 units at LaGrange points of a star before entering the Void. enter image description here and in turn act as the 2 points along with Voyager to triangulate it's position based on the speed of propagation signal. Along with temporary unit til they crossed.

  • 2
    Is there any indication that this is what they used in the show, or just your own guess about how you would do it.
    – Valorum
    Dec 30, 2023 at 12:38
  • The question asks "COULD" implying hypothetical questions, not "HOW DID THEY" Voyager was able find it's relative position in galaxy without aid of starcharts or navigation beacons they didn't have access to. When the "Voyager" probes were launched in 1970s they had a map of imprinted binary coded confering 14 stable pulsars in reference to Earth that was 20th century technology.
    – LazyReader
    16 hours ago
  • That is not what "could" means in this context. It could be a trail of string. It means how is it done in the canon of the movie or tv show being discussed - ideally addressed in the episode, or the in the series, or on star-trek as a whole and so on. Just saying how navigcation can work is not a good answer on this site. -1
    – iandotkelly
    4 hours ago

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