|Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards|
The name Nova class was coined for a new Starfleet design in the 2360s. At the time of its inception, it was being modeled as the next evolution of the explorer design dynamic of the Galaxy class. At least four designs were conceptualized for the new class; with a variety of innovative new arrangements, propulsion systems and modular designs proposed. One radical design featured a nacelles-forward central hull that would trail mission modules behind it. Another design maintained a more typical Starfleet arrangement, but distorted to make use of anticipated advances in warp technology to allow greater z-axis warp field compression. A third design also maintained a recognizable silhouette, but proposed variable geometry warp nacelles and a primary hull that was composed of interchangeable modules. The fourth design had entered service by 2370 like the Nova-class, of another design which had gone into production by 2368, this design featured an angular, almost triangular, primary hull, and was used as a small explorer and research vessel.
At this time, in the mid-2360s, Starfleet was looking for a successor for the long-lived Oberth class which had been in constant operation for almost a century. After noting how well the Defiant pathfinder spaceframe had performed in early warp field simulations, the Advanced Starship Design Bureau selected the design as a suitable basis for the Oberth-class replacement. The original design underwent a series of modifications as it was re-purposed from being a warship to a science vessel, with the most notable change being the removal of some of the forward torpedo launchers and their replacement with powerful sensor arrays.
Appropriately for their mission profile, the Nova-class were essentially flying sensor platforms, with the most finely tuned and integrated large sensor arrays, which was unparalleled in its application on Starfleet vessels at the time. With the ships' main purpose being research and analysis, they weren't typically suitable for combat operations.
The class was also not designed with long term missions in mind; its compact design limited the amount of consumables able to be carried and also put restraints on the number of facilities more common on larger designs - the first of the Nova-class did not have any holodeck facilities, nor did it carry the components to assemble a reserve warp core. With these considerations the typical maximum mission duration recommended for the class was two years.
The Nova design was designed to operate at a maximum speed of warp 8, but maintain a suitable cruising speed of warp 6, which was provided through an LF-47 Advanced Linear Warp Drive system.
The Nova-class was also one of a few Federation starship classes to be equipped with the ability to enter a planet's atmosphere and land on the surface, thanks to breakthroughs in gravity control and vessel structural integrity. Landing was achieved on four landing pads which extended from ports on the underside of the engineering hull. Although not a routine maneuver, this capability extended the uses of the ship, making it possible for a Nova-class vessel's crew to utilize the ship as a planetary research base.
Arrangement and Layout
The design of the Nova-class was considered a compact form of its much larger contemporary, the Sovereign class, and was also similar to the Intrepid class, although the Nova was only half its size with a length of 165 meters. The layout of the ship included a primary hull with a curved triangular shape, with the secondary hull directly attached to the primary hull and the ship's twin warp nacelles protruding to either side of the rear of the engineering section.
In keeping with traditional Starfleet design the bridge was located on deck one, although atypically it was surrounded by a built up area of the hull, making the bridge slightly less vulnerable to attack (in a similar concept to the Akira class and a hangover from the original warship design used as the basis for the class). The ships' impulse engines occupied the rear of deck two, while decks three and four featured a large cargo bay. The front of deck three housed the auxiliary deflector dish, and below it on deck four was a large array of sensor pallets, with additional sensors located on the underside of the saucer on deck four as well. To the rear of deck four was the ship's shuttlebay, as well as sickbay and the primary laboratory facilities. The remaining decks were largely occupied by engineering facilities, with the warp core extending through decks five to eight, and the primary deflector taking up most of the front of the engineering hull.
Like many other Starfleet vessels, Nova-class vessels were equipped with a navigational deflector at the bow of the secondary hull, which was designed to prevent space debris and objects colliding with the vessel and damaging her. If the main deflector was damaged or disabled, then a secondary deflector located on the primary hull could substitute.
The Nova-class was also equipped with a FSQ primary force field and deflector control system, located along the secondary hull, which provided shielding for defensive purposes. These shields could be fully recharged after charging the shield emitters for 45 seconds, however, this would require the shields to be dropped.
Although the Nova-class wasn't designed for combat operations, they were still equipped with an assortment of weaponry which allowed them to safely defend themselves. They were equipped with eleven Type X collimated phaser arrays: eight located on the saucer section and three on the secondary hull. The Novas were also armed with two forward-facing mk-95 photon torpedo tubes at the bow of the saucer opposite of the secondary deflector, and one aft-facing launcher. The ships were typically equipped with twenty photon torpedoes, although they could also fire quantum torpedoes if so equipped.
Nova-class vessels typically had a compliment of two shuttlecraft, stowed in their shuttlebays, and two work bees, typically held in their cargo bays. Additionally they were also equipped with a Waverider atmospheric operations shuttlecraft, which was mounted in a specially designed port on the underside of the primary hull similar to the captain's yachts on the Galaxy class and Sovereign class. The Waverider was able to reach one-half impulse and was Starfleet's most advanced atmospheric craft at the time.
- Ship illustrations by Tim Davies. Used with permission.
- Ship illustrations by Tim Davies. Used with permission.
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