The Kobayashi Maru is a Star Trek Starfleet training exercise designed to test the character of cadets in the command track at Starfleet Academy. The primary goal of the exercise is to rescue the civilian vessel, Kobayashi Maru, in a simulated battle with the Klingons. The disabled ship is located in the Klingon Neutral Zone, and any Starfleet ship entering the zone would cause an interstellar incident. The approaching cadet crew must decide whether to attempt rescue of the Kobayashi Maru crew – endangering their own ship and lives – or leave the Kobayashi Maru to certain destruction. If the cadet chooses to attempt rescue, the simulation is designed to guarantee that the ship is destroyed with the loss of all crew members.

James T. Kirk took the test three times while at Starfleet Academy. Before his third attempt, Kirk surreptitiously reprogrammed the simulator so that it was possible to rescue the freighter. This fact is revealed in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, as Kirk, Saavik and others are marooned. Saavik accuses Kirk of never having faced the no-win scenario. Kirk replies that he doesn’t believe in such a thing. Kirk was awarded a commendation for “original thinking”.

The test’s name is used to describe a no-win scenario, or a solution that involves redefining the problem and testing one’s character.
— Wikipedia

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