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Old March 23 2009, 06:10 AM   #1
Praetor
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Location: The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
Excelsior Technical Manual - Revived!

So various talk 'round these parts has made me decide to start working on my Excelsior Technical Manual again after, what, two years? Some of you may remember it, some may not. I couldn't even find the original thread. I was tempted to place this new thread in fan fiction but since it is really more of a technical nature I thought this more appopriate, especially since I want reactions from my esteemed Treknical brothers and sisters.

It is tentatively titled 'Excelsior: Infinite Velocity.' It basically consists of two main parts:
  1. A history of the class's development and career written from the perspective of 2385 looking backwards that I am using to introduce my own take on various Trek tech and history subjects, some of which may be controversial and others not.
  2. An in-universe 'familiarization manual' written to describe the Excelsior as deployed in 2290, replete with cross-sections and deck plans, as well as appendices describing variants and sister/tangent classes.
So far, I have about 75% or so written and am going through revising it with various ideas. I have deck plans drawn by hand which I must redo in Illustrator, and of course my good ole Excelsior cross section which I am redoing in MSD/LCARS style. Needless to say, the graphics part of it is the hardest and most time consuming part. I know it will never be published, but I'd ultimately like to make it available in a PDF form.

Here's that ole cutaway I mentioned. Some things on it may change as I redo it to fit the LCARS style, but probably not the basic configuration/placements.


What I'd like to do is post chapter by chapter and get everyone's reactions to the various ideas in it. Since the history part is essentially done, I'll start posting there, then hang back for a few days to let everyone comment and react to those comments, and then post another chapter for reactions. I'd like everyone to be as forthright in their opinions as possible. I don't really consider anything set too deeply in stone and am very open to other opinions. Hopefully by the time we're through this I'll have part two's draft done, and also some graphics.

I'm posting this with the caveat that this text is copyright me and I trust you folks not to reproduce my text in any way, at least without asking my permission. (You might be surprised.) If you see an idea you like, run with it, but just don't plagiarize, okay? Good.

Here we go:
Chapter One - Background

On the morning of 17 April, 2270, at 1105 hours Earth time, the Sol System was alive with activity. Every ship in the sector had gathered for a very special event. Starfleet scouts flew honor formation as the U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701, returned home from her latest and most historic five-year mission, under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. Brass and civilians alike applauded as Enterprise came in under shutug power to dock in Berth Two of the old, now-decommissioned Spacedock. “Lucky Little Enterprise” (as the Federation press had dubbed her because of her comparably shining safety record) had become the most famous member of the Constitution class and as the proclaimed flagship of the fleet, she and her crew had risen to the status of living legend. After arrival, a special commemorative ceremony was held in Enterprise’s main recreation room. The senior staff was decorated, and numerous promotions were handed out.

Behind the celebration, tucked neatly somewhere between the multi-spectrum antimatter fireworks and the Vulcan children’s choir, Starfleet was in real danger of falling behind the times. Starfleet had relied on the Constitution class as its backbone and workhorse since the ships were first commissioned in 2245, before the latest generation of officer to serve on them had even been born. The twenty-third century was a time of unprecedented change in the Alpha Quadrant. Even as the Federation celebrated its Centennial in 2261, it would experience increased threats from its neighbors, ranging from the increasingly antagonistic Tholians to an uneasy but nonetheless threatening alliance between the Klingons and re-emerged Romulans, all of whom, by all intelligence indications, were developing technologically faster than the Constitution class could keep up with.

Indeed, it had become quite apparent that most of Starfleet was in danger of being rendered obsolete much more quickly than anticipated. Missions such as that of Kirk, while monumental successes, highlighted the flaws in Starlfeet’s aging designs. Historic innovations, such as the doctrinal shift toward the split primary/secondary hull configuration first introduced in the late twenty-second century and the introduction of standardized components such as warp nacelles and bridge modules that had rendered the Constitution class an efficient, well-balanced design were no longer revolutionary. Further, the class’s once-impressive defenses seemed inadequate to meet the increasingly powerful fleets maintained by the Klingons and Romulans. Even after the introduction of ship-mounted phaser weapons and photon torpedoes to the Constitution class, it was obvious that the ships’ defenses were somewhat below par compared to the warships being produced by the Federation's enemies.

Since the conclusion of the Romulan War, two polarized elements of Starfleet had long fought over the existence of Starfleet warships. Starfleet had been initially founded under the auspices of peaceful exploration and defense, but proponents of a more militaristic Starfleet argued that the narrow victory of the Romulan war had proven the need for dedicated battleships. Opponents countered that such ships would only truly be useful in the event of another full-scale war, and that multi-purpose starships could be well-equipped to maintain the peace. Initially, Starfleet operated battleships that were a part of its leftover Romulan War fleet, but gradually the costs of keeping these in operation outweighed their apparent need, and newer multi-puprose ships easily replaced their tactical roles. Militaristic proponents continued to press the need for more dedicated warships, and opponents continued to dispute them. This argument would rage for decades, with neither side truly gaining any leverage until the 2250s. By that time, the Klingon danger loomed heavily, and many of Starfleet’s most prominent officers began to speak publicly about the need for a new Dreadnought class to meet any potential Threat attacks. Politically motivated budget cuts initially impaired any such major development projects, but eventually the movement gained enough momentum that serious fears began to emerge amongst the general populace about the safety of the Federation.

A special exploratory commission was finally convened to submit a proposal for a new Dreadnought design to the Command Council for review. The proposal was handed to the Council in 2252, and permission was granted to have Starfleet's Advanced Design Bureau begin design work for the ship. The ASDB worked for five years and submitted several possible designs, the most promising being a three-nacelle variant of the basic Constitution design. The first member of the so-called Federation class dreadnoughts was launched in 2260. While well-armed and technologically impressive, the vessels were also somewhat awkward and ungainly. Constitution class ships were still considered more prestigious posts than the twelve members of the Federation class. The class successfully fulfilled its limited roles of border patrol and sector defense, but had little else to do without the outbreak of actual war. It did serve to assuage public safety fears, which bought Starfleet more time to come up with a real solution: a true replacement for the Constitution class that could hold its own against the Federation class in terms of defense. Some cynics on both side of the argument said that the role of warship and exploratory ship could not be successfully merged, and remained skeptical.

For numerous reasons, the Starfleet General Staff did not entirely abandon the Constitution class. The Constitution was a proven deisgn, as all but two of the original 2240s production line were still in service, and during their careers had increased the area of known space by thousands of square parsecs. At the ceremony held aboard the Enterprise at her return, Fleet Admiral Heihachiro Nogura, Starfleet’s Chief in Command, announced the implementation of a massive fleet-wide modernization and refit program, beginning with the two and a half year upgrade of Enterprise herself. However, Nogura and his colleagues at the General Staff were confident that this would only extend the design life of the Constitutions by three to four decades at most. Starfleet had already begun designing a replacement for the Constitution that could satisfactorily explore and defend the ever-growing Federation. While the very concept of a true multi-mission explorer-type starship, such as the Ambassador and Galaxy classes, was still nearly eighty years away, the seeds that would ultimately lead to its genesis were about to be sown.

In 2266, the Federation had granted permission for the ASDB to begin preliminary work on a Constitution replacement, even as the first members of the Federation class and the final group of Constitutions left the docks. The general design brief issued (labeled SV-20) called for a ship capable of fulfilling the duties of the Constitution class: provide a mobile research platform for Starfleet exploration projects, border patrol, and defense, starbase resupply and defense of regional interests, and full execution of Federation policy in outlying frontier territories. The design team was convened under the supervision of Doctor Akito Tokogawa of the ASDB, an accomplished engineer and assistant on both the original Constitution class project and the new modernization project. The team convened by Tokogawa included an impressive range of the best of the old and young that the ASDB had to offer, fully confident of their ability to meet Starfleet’s challenge. In 2271, another design requirement would be added: incorporate advances of the new prototypical propulsion form called transwarp drive.
And let it fly. Don't worry, I've thick skin.
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