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Old March 5 2013, 06:02 PM   #190
Fleet Captain
Shawnster's Avatar
Location: Clinton, OH
Re: The Constellation's registry number

From Memory Alpha:

Captain R.M. Merik was the commanding officer of the Federation Merchant Marines survey vessel SS Beagle.
In his youth he attended Starfleet Academy at the same time as James T. Kirk, but was dropped in his fifth year because he failed a psycho-simulator test. After this he joined the Merchant Marines.
As Starfleet Academy usually only takes four years, it appears that either Merik had to repeat one total year or that he took a program that necessitated a fifth (or more) year. In 2262, the Beagle became disabled near the 892 system, when it suffered damage from a meteor storm. Merik and a landing party beamed down to the fourth planet of the system to look for iridium ore for repairs.
So, perhaps Spaceship doesn't refer to the SIZE of the ship, but, rather, what type of personnel operate the ship/whose command the ship falls under.

STARSHIP = Starfleet
SPACESHIP = Civilian/Merchant Marine
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