Developed as one of the first six of Starfleet’s Galaxy class starships beginning in the late 2340s, the Astraeus was fraught with bad luck and problems from her first years in construction.
Used as a test bed for additional new technologies planned to be implemented on the Galaxy, Yamato, and Enterprise, some upgraded systems were installed, ran into at-the-time irrepairable incompatibilities, personnel or supply issues, or just straight up misfortune. Because of these problems, the Astraeus, named for the Greek Titan of the dusk, was launched a full two years after her sister ships, in 2365. Her first commander, Captain Andrei Nabatov, assumed command on 4 November, 2365. Her shakedown cruise lasted for fourteen months, and with the bugs from her construction shaken out, the Astraeus was assigned her first long range mission.
First Exploration Missions
Deployed on a five year exploration mission under Captain Nabatov’s command, the Astraeus moved to the Federation’s galactic-southern borders and began to explore uncharted territory. Despite the area’s relative lack of density compared to areas closer to the Milky Way’s core, the Astraeus made first contact with seven races during this time, most successful and peaceful, along with charting thousands of stellar objects and new star systems. Too far away to assist directly when the Borg attacked Wolf 359, Captain Nabatov pushed his ship to the limit to reach communications range with Klingon space, where his requests for aid helped to convince the Klingons to send help.
This first exploration mission, along with the journeys of her sister ships, solidified the Galaxy class as Starfleet’s most versatile deep-space vehicle, capable of sustaining her substantial crew in comfort for long periods of time out of close contact with the rest of the Federation. Eventually returning to Starbase 214 in 2370 for extensive maintenance and and resupply, the Astraeus was once again deployed to the outer reaches of Federation space on a second five year mission - until she was abruptly recalled to Earth in 2373 with the outbreak of hostilities with the Dominion.
As open conflict began between allied Alpha quadrant forces and the Dominion, the Astraeus, as one of Starfleet’s most powerful vessels, participated in several skirmishes with smaller Dominion forces, as well as the battle of Torros III. Entering the conflict after the initial destruction of the Odyssey and once Starfleet had adapted their technology to allow energy shielding to be effective against Dominion weaponry, she maintained a high success to failure ratio.
At Torros III, acting as a tempting diversion, Captain Nabatov ordered his engineering teams to simulate battle damage severe enough to draw away the Dominion shipyard’s defenders. While the Astraeus broke off the ruse and fought off her attackers while taking significant damage in the process, other allied forces were able to destroy the Dominion shipyards at Torros III, hampering early Dominion efforts to spread further into the quadrant.
In 2375, the Astraeus was crippled during the battle of Ricktor Prime. The Bridge was heavily damaged, and Captain Nabatov was killed. His first officer, a female Grazerite named Charta-Von, took command. With cover from other ships involved in the battle, the Astraeus was towed away, and spent the rest of the war in drydock, under repairs. Upon completion of her refit, during which time, several systems were upgraded, Charta-Von was granted permanent command of the starship, which spent the next three years patrolling Federation space, during which time Starfleet and the other Alpha quadrant races rebuilt their fleets.
Exploration Missions during the late 2370s to 2390s
Under the command of Charta-Von, the Astraeus finally embarked on its next series of exploration missions. To the galactic west of the Federation and the Ferengi Alliance, they made first contact and developed relations with dozens of different cultures.
As the nature of long range exploration missions dictated, Charta-Von was often out of touch with Starfleet Command, and made decisions according to her own nature. During this time, the Astraeus strictly adhered to the Prime Directive, and largely avoided any sort of armed conflict. In 2383, Charta-Von elected to resign from Starfleet, and took up Grazerite’s position on the Federation Council. Astraeus returned to Earth, and command was assigned to Captain S’Tannix, a female Kasheeta.
Rather than assign her to another long range exploration mission, the Astraeus embarked on missions of scientific research and diplomacy inside Federation space. With her scientific facilities still highly advanced and more extensive than anything outside of a specialized science ship, she spent the next decade aiding Federation member races in furthering their understanding of their own histories through the study of their archaeology, as well as brokering trade agreements and putting out diplomatic brush fires where they arose.
One notable incident in 2389 involved several old Jem-Hadar ships, their crews having been in suspended animation after an accident, attacking a Federation planet where the Astraeus was the only vessel close enough to respond. Using a combination of ingenuity and bravery, Captain S’Tannix was able to fight off their attackers while taking minimal damage in the process.
Now twenty eight years old, the Astraeus’ age was beginning to show in diminished effectiveness in tactical and scientific missions, and her first major overhaul was scheduled to begin in 2394. S’tannix was promoted to Rear Admiral, and moved to a position as the commander of Starbase 819, and the Astraeus moved into a long term drydock at Starbase 74 for her first major refit.
The first major refit that would result in a markedly different looking vessel than what was originally launched in 2365, the primary purpose of the Astraeus’ first major overhaul was in modernizing systems that were lagging behind the most modern Starfleet vessels - primarily, her tactical and computer systems, and warp drive functionality. Specifics are listed [here.]
After the conclusion of her refit in late 2395, the Astraeus was assigned to Commander Victor Yeager for her shakedown cruise. Aside from the usual minor to moderate severity bugs that need to be worked out during a refit, things were proceeding normally - until Commander Yeager decided to attempt to show off the capabilities of his new ship by attempting to break the mass limit of The Shoals. This attempt was a failure, and the Astraeus ended up stranded and unable to form a warp field. The USS Veritas came to her rescue, stopping pirates from taking her over. This came at the cost of several Starfleet lives, and severe damage to the Astraeus. In the aftermath, Commander Yeager was court-martialed and stripped of his rank, and the Astraeus put back into spacedock around Cait for repairs, and to have a skin of ablative armor installed at the insistence of Commander Mei'konda.
Around stardate 239606, Admiral Joseph Washington gave command to now-Captain Mei'konda Delano.