The Galaxy Class Starship Development Project began in the 2350s at Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards. Numerous technologies implemented on Galaxy-class starships were tested aboard earlier prototype vessels, including the Oberth-class USS Pegasus in the 2350s.
The warp core was designed at Outpost Seran-T-one on stardate 40052 by some of the most brilliant engineering minds in the Federation, including Leah Brahms of the Theoretical Propulsion Group. Major component construction of Galaxy-class ships was carried out both in orbit and at ground based facilities.
Upon its launch, the Galaxy-class had become the most technologically sophisticated and complicated ship ever built by the Federation.
Service aboard a Galaxy-class starship was considered an extremely prestigious assignment and they attracted some of Starfleet's finest officers. Some Galaxy-class ships were able to house large civilian populations; many assigned personnel even brought their families aboard to live with them.
In 2365, the safety of the Galaxy-class, in particular its warp propulsion system, came into question when the USS Yamato was lost in a mysterious accident near the Romulan Neutral Zone. The ship had experienced massive system-wide failures which eventually led to a loss of antimatter containment. Further investigation by the Enterprise-D revealed the malfunctions were the result of an Iconian software transmission and not a design flaw inherent to the ship.
Undoubtedly the most prominent early Galaxy-class starship was the USS Enterprise-D, which, apart from two brief periods under the commands of William T. Riker and Edward Jellico, was commanded for its entire nine years of service by Captain Jean-Luc Picard. The Enterprise-D made First Contact with a multitude of new species, including the Q Continuum, the Ferengi Alliance and the Borg Collective. Its diplomatic efforts helped cool tensions between smaller, regional powers and prevent dramatic upheavals to the security of the Federation during the Klingon Civil War, and frequently checked Romulan and Cardassian operations in tense situations. It fought off some of the Federation's toughest foes, most notably preventing the assimilation of Earth during the Borg invasion of 2367.
The Galaxy-class shared similar design characteristics with the smaller Nebula-class.
The design included two hull sections: a saucer-shaped primary hull, and a detachable secondary hull which housed the ship's primary engines. They could be reversibly separated, and were both equipped with independent flight and combat capabilities. Generally, civilians and non-essential personnel would evacuate to the saucer module, while the senior staff confronted a threat in the battle section, which contained the majority of weapons systems. The saucer was even capable of crash-landing on a planetary surface.
The interior space of the Galaxy-class was left somewhat customizable; areas such as Deck 8 were designated as unfinished and multi-purpose, in the event that extra space was needed for a specific mission. The Enterprise-D was initially launched from Utopia Planitia, a full 35% of the customizable space was left empty, to be later filled with individual modules as seen fit.
The computer system on board the Galaxy-class was isolinear based. Computer systems were concentrated in a computer core, which was accessible through a maintenance room. Each Galaxy-class vessel carried a total of three independent computer cores; two located in the saucer section and one in the engineering section.
Galaxy-class ships achieved warp flight through two warp nacelles, which housed multiple pairs of warp coils. The acceleration delay between slow-reverse impulse and top warp speed, or about warp 9, was 0.300 milliseconds. The maximum speed was warp 9.6, which could be maintained for approximately twelve hours. The warp core was one of the most powerful in Starfleet, generating approximately 12.75 billion gigawatts of power. The efficiency of the warp drive could be tweaked to a point where it rivaled the new Intrepid-class ships introduced in 2370.
The warp core spanned twelve decks in the engineering hull. The deuterium tanks were above the core, while antimatter storage pods surrounded the base of the core on Deck 42.
There were three impulse engines, two on the saucer section and one in the stardrive section. In early ships, only the impulse engine in the stardrive section was usually active.
Galaxy-class ships supported a wide variety of scientific equipment and laboratories studying many different disciplines. In addition to sensors, Galaxy-class ships were equipped with a variety of probes and scientific devices that could be launched from the torpedo launchers.
The Galaxy-class was equipped with ten phaser banks, distributed in phaser arrays at various points along both hulls. One array was located on the dorsal of the battle section and could only be used following a separation. There were also fore and aft torpedo launchers on the engineering section. Each launch tube was capable of firing at least five photon torpedoes simultaneously, each torpedo capable of being independently targeted. In the 2360s, Galaxy-class ships typically carried about 250 photon torpedoes. The torpedo launchers were also capable of launching probes. The Galaxy-class also carried antimatter mines and supported a high-capacity deflector shield grid.
The main bridge of the Galaxy-class was located on Deck 1 of the saucer section. As with most starships, the main bridge was modular and could be completely replaced with another bridge if the need called for it. Different Galaxy-class starships had different bridge designs.
The forward bulkhead was dominated by the main viewscreen. Directly aft of this were the operations officer and conn positions. At the very center of the room was the command area – the captain's chair at the center, flanked by chairs for the first officer to the right, and an additional officer (typically the ship's counselor or chief medical officer) to the left. Smaller backless seats were located on the edges of the command area, for other officers to sit, should the need arise.
The tactical console, positioned directly behind the captain, was located in the wooden handrail that encircled the rear half of the central command area. The aft bulkhead carried several additional consoles.
By necessity, the bridge had easy access to and from all other important areas of the ship. In all, there were six doors leading from the room. Moving clockwise from the main viewscreen, the first door, level with, and to the right of the conn, led directly to the battle bridge emergency turbolift. At the rear right of the bridge, a shallow alcove contained two doors, one of which led to a head, the other to a corridor leading to the observation lounge. The door at the rear left of the room opened onto a standard turbolift. Continuing around, the fifth door led into the captain's ready room, the sixth to another turbolift.
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