Star Trek: The Frontier
Constitution Class Starship
From 2237 to 2240 design and construction of the spaceframes of USS Constitution and the following 4 ships of the class proceeded smoothly in orbit above San Francisco. Although considerably larger than the Valley Forge, Constitution was not significantly more complex, outside of its main M/AM reactor and warp nacelles. The 129 m diameter primary hull with asymmetrical promontories carried the updated bridge module, an enlarged sickbay, the duotronic computer core, extensive scientific laboratories, and spacious berths for officers, crew, and diplomatic guests (including those not from class M planets). All phaser emitter ports and torpedo tubes were concealed behind retractable hull plates. A large sensor in the ventral promontory allowed Constitution to scan deep below planetary surfaces from high in geosynchronous orbit. The impulse deck was of a new, compact design and disturbed the smooth contours of the rear primary hull only slightly.
Constitution's secondary hull, suspended from a deep but strikingly thin connecting dorsal, was fronted by a 28 m tall mount for the main navigational deflector. The large deflector was necessitated in part by the much higher speeds projected for Constitution. Behind the deflector, the hull tapered back gently for an additional 90 m to the main shuttlecraft bay in the stern. Within the secondary hull were engineering spaces for the warp drive system, including the compact SSWR-XV reactor, deuterium tanks, AM containment bottles, the dilithium control room, and plasma conduits. A large section of the hull was dedicated to cargo bays, workshops, fabrication gins, and recreational facilities.
In late 2240, disturbing rumors began to emerge from Hellas Planitia that all was not well with the SSWR-XV reactor project. Both the SSWR-XV reactor project leader and the director of Hellas Planitia resigned or were dismissed in the spring of 2241 following large scale staff defections the previous fall. An emergency review by the Federation General Accounting Office in July 2241 revealed that certification tests at several developmental milestones had been partially or completely falsified to give the erroneous impression that development of the reactor was proceeding according to schedule. By this time the reactor should have been undergoing high-stress endurance testing but not yet even been run at 75% of full power. Problems with the reactor were numerous; perhaps the most severe were power surges and drops during reactor step-up and step-down, the development of retrograde eddies in the plasma swirl chamber, and extremely high rates of dilithium matrix instability. Worst of all, the SSWR-XV, which had been undergoing bench testing at Hellas Planitia since early 2239, was said to be at least 24 months away from spaceframe mating and perhaps 36 months away from full-up flight testing.
The delay of the main power plant rippled outward to affect construction of the Constitution spaceframes at the San Francisco Starfleet Yards and work on other starship projects planned or already in progress. As the delivery date for the SSWR-XV reactor was pushed back months, then years, Constitution's various design and construction teams on the ground and in orbit became dispirited and lost hope that the ship would ever see service. Reports in the popular press harmed on the increasing cost of Constitution, funds that might better be spent elsewhere. A large percentage of the design and construction facilities and manpower in the Sol system were now being used by or had been reserved for the Constitution project, but most sat idle; Lawrence Marvick, a young systems engineer in San Francisco, complained that to pass the time he and other engineers ran endless simulations of increasingly unlikely scenarios, such as the crash landing of the command hull on planetary surfaces. If these facilities and manpower were shifted away from Constitution to other starship projects, they might be available later when the Constitution class finally entered full-scale production. As a result, Constitution's delay slowed all other projects in the Sol system.
|Type||Light Cruiser (CL)|
|Decks:||13 Deck Plan|
|Crew Compliment:||27 Officers
|Warp Drive:||SSWR-V-C spherical vacity M/AM reactor
(2) Griffon 3 nacelles
|Armament:||(6 × 1) Type VI laser turrets (WR 6)
1 probe/missile launcher
18 Lance missiles (WR 15)
|Support Craft||2 light cargo/personnel shuttlecraft
8 personal shuttlepods