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The Nova-class was a type of Federation science vessel and scout starship in service in the 24th century, first entering service in 2368. The class was designed for short-range and limited duration research missions such as planetary or system surveys. Nova-class vessels were also tasked with doing the extensive and in-depth research and analysis on a chosen region after a larger explorer type ship had made the initial analysis. (ST reference: Starship Spotter)





Early concepts for the Nova-class

The name "Nova-class" was coined for a new Starfleet design in the 2360s. At the time of its inception, it was being modelled as the next evolution of the explorer design dynamic of the Galaxy-class. At least four designs were conceptualised 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 recognisable silhouette, but proposed variable geometry warp nacelles and a primary hull that was composed of interchangeable modules. The forth design had entered service by 2370, as evidenced by the USS Aquitaine; like the Nova-class, of another deisgn which had gone into production by 2368, this design featured an angular, almost triangular, primary hull, and was used a small explorer and research vessel. (TNG reference: Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual; TNG comics: "Children of Chaos", "Mother of Madness", "Brothers in Darkness")

The class name of the USS Aquitaine was not revealed in any of the three comics it and its crew appeared in, though it presumably was named something other than Nova-class. The ship's crew compliment is also never established, but appears to be somewhat smaller than the Nova-class, as the entire crew apparently participated in an away mission.
The original Defiant-class pathfinder design which formed the basis for the Nova-class

The final design of the Nova-class initially stated out as a pathfinder for the proposed Defiant-class fast torpedo ship. However with the looming threat of the Borg Collective, Starfleet Command radically altered the concept of the Defiant-class, rendering the pathfinder design unsuitable.

At this time, in the mid-2360s, Starfleet were looking for a successor for the long-lived Oberth-class which has 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 the forward torpedo launchers and their replacement with powerful sensor arrays. (ST reference: Starship Spotter)

In service

By 2368 the prototype USS Nova had been built and commissioned. Unfortunately, the Nova-class program hit a misstep in 2370, when the newly launched USS Equinox vanished near the Badlands whilst performing a scientific survey. The loss of the Equinox, belonging to a new starship design, led to concern over the design. However, these fears were put to rest when detailed analysis of the USS Nova revealed no discernible design flaws. Any lingering concerns were finally put to rest several years later, when the Equinox was discovered in the Delta Quadrant by the USS Voyager. (ST reference: Starship Spotter; VOY episode & novelization: Equinox)

Despite the concerns regarding the Equinox, other vessels of the class had performed exceedingly well and Starfleet increased production, confident that they had found a suitable replacement for the Oberth-class. (ST reference: Starship Spotter)

Alternate timelines

The USS Rhode Island, variant of the Nova-class.

In one alternate timeline, a variant of the Nova-class was in service in the early 25th century. Whilst the interior of the ship remained largely unchanged, the exterior had undergone a number of changes with notable alterations to the hull design; adding a new dome over the bridge and filling the gap at the front of the saucer section. The variant design also had superior firepower and shield strength than its predecessors. (VOY episode: "Endgame")

In a later alternate timeline, a Nova-class vessel (of the same variant design seen in the other alternate timeline) was still in Starfleet service during the 26th century, and was involved in the pivotal Battle of Procyon V. (ENT episode: "Azati Prime")


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 that 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 amount of consumables able to be carried and also put restraints on the number of facilities more common on larger designs - 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. (Star Trek Fact Files; ST reference: Starship Spotter)

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. (ST reference: Starship Spotter)

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 manoeuvre, this capability extended the uses of the ship, making it possible for a Nova-class vessel's crew to utilise the ship as a planetary research base. (ST reference: Starship Spotter; Star Trek Fact Files; ST roleplay module: Starships)

Arrangement and layout

The Nova-class main systems display

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 it 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. (Star Trek Fact Files; VOY episode: "Equinox")

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 feature a large cargo bay. To the front of deck three housed the auxiliary deflector dish, and below it on deck four 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. (Star Trek Fact Files)

Deflector systems

The shields of a Nova-class ship.

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. (Star Trek Fact Files; ST reference: Starship Spotter; VOY episode & novelization: Equinox)

Tactical systems

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 Nova's 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 is so equipped. (ST reference: Starship Spotter; ST roleplay module: Starships)

Auxiliary craft

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. (ST reference: Starship Spotter; Star Trek Fact Files)

Known vessels



Starship classes of the United Federation of Planets
By name AakennAchernarAchillesAdvanceAegianAeolusAerieAkiraAkula (destroyer)Akula (frigate)AlaskaAmbassadorAndesAndromedaAndorAntaresAntonApacheApolloArcherArielAscendantAshantiAvengerBabcockBaderBakerBaton RougeBodeBolarusBonaventureBonhomme RichardBradburyBrentonCanadaCanopusCapellaCentaurCentaurusChallengerChandleyChargerChariotChesapeakeCheyenneChimeraChristopherCle DanCochiseCochraneConstellationConstitutionContinentCopernicusCygnusDaedalusDanubeDecaturDeckerDefenderDefiantDenevaDerfDollondDopplerDreadnoughtDrexlerDurrettEagleEdwardEl DoradoEnterprise (23rd century)Enterprise (alternate future)EpochEpsilonErewonExcaliburExcelsiorFederationFenlonFermiFijiFreedomFrontierGagarinGalaxyGenevaGenserGracefulGraysonGriffonHaleHardinHermes (scout)Hermes (fast cruiser)HestonHoganHokule'aHorizonHuronIcarusIncursionIndomitableIntrepidIowaIstanbulIwo JimaKarekhKeithKepplerKethkinKievKitty HawkK'KmarakKolm-AnKorolevLarsonLauroLaweyaLegacyLenthalLexingtonLibertyLokiLoknarLondon (troop transport)LunaMackenzieMakinMannMarklinMarshallM'BengaMediterraneanMercedMidwayMirandaMissionMissouriMockingbirdMoKalMonocerosMoscowNebulaNelsonNew OrleansNewportNiagaraNobleNomadNorthamptonNorwayNovaOberonOberthOdinOdysseusOkinawaOlympicOppenheimerOrionOsakaOverfieldPaladin (destroyer)Paladin (24th century)PhiladelphiaPinnaclePiperPolarityPolluxPortsmithPremonitionPrometheusProximaPtolemyPyreneesRakotaRanger (cruiser)Ranger (scout)ReliantRemoraRenaissanceRickenbackerRigelRoyal SovereignSaberSaganSaladinSamsonSanta FeSawyerScorpioScyllaSequoiaShermanShi'KahrSierraSivaSolarSovereignSoyuzSpringfieldSteamrunnerSurakSydneyVentureTangentThomas PaineThucydidesThufirTiconderogaTikopaiTritiumTyphonUkoraUlyssesUralUtahVestaVigilant (scout)Vigilant (tactical escort)VoyagerWambunduWilkersonWei-FaWellingtonWellsYeagerYorkshireZodiacunnamed Emblem of the United Federation of Planets

Seal of the Federation Starfleet.
By type Federation cargo shipFederation colony shipFederation construction shipFederation galaxy shipFederation mining freighterFederation repair ship


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 ST reference: Starship Spotter
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 ST roleplay module: Starships
  3. ST video game: Legacy
  4. VOY episode & novelization: Equinox
  5. TNG short story: "Trust Yourself When All Men Doubt You"
  6. ST roleplay module: Worlds
  7. TNG movie: Nemesis
  8. VOY episode: "Endgame"


The various RPG supplements published by Last Unicorn Games after they had lost their Star Trek license listed several other Nova-class starships: the USS K'Shal (NCC-73105), USS Nadir (NCC-74803) and the USS VanDenBroeck (NCC-69178). Alternative registry numbers were also given for several vessels later included in Decipher's Starships sourcebook.

The software for the game Star Trek: Legacy lists the USS Farrier, USS Hollis and USS Mullen as members of the class. However these additional names are blocked from use by the software, so do not appear at any point during game-play.

External link

This article uses material from the "Nova class" article on the Memory-beta wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

ST Expanded

Up to date as of February 07, 2010

The Star Trek Expanded Universe Database is for fanon and related content. See for the canon Star Trek wiki.

The Nova-class was a type of surveyor starship in service to the Federation Starfleet in the late 24th century.

The Nova-class was originally planned as a future supplement or extension of the Galaxy-class explorer, with few of the military capabilities of the Galaxy, and become more of a dedicated research and exploration vessel. However, following the conclusion of the Federation-Cardassian War in the mid-2360s, Starfleet Command scrapped those initial plans and tasked the Nova Class Design Project with designing an as-yet undetermined smaller design of starship.

Around that same time, the Advanced Starship Design Bureau were working on designs for the proposed Defiant-class warship, and several of the more traditional designs were rejected for various reasons. Fortunately, members of the Nova design team came across some of the shelved Defiant designs and realized that one of them, a small vessel with an arrow-shaped saucer section and two dorsal nacelle pylons, was perfect for the team's needs. With only the slightest modifications, the design was soon approved by Starfleet Command as the new Nova-class starship.

Due to the Nova-class' mission profile, they were equipped with some of the most advanced scientific systems of the time, including dedicated biological and astronomical laboratories. However, the Nova's had limited propulsion, weapons and crew support systems, which made it unsuitable for long duration missions. (Ship Recognition Manual, Volume 1: The Ships of Starfleet)

Its spaceframe was based on a design submitted by then Commander Gedna Tachion for the Defiant class in 2367. (Star Trek: Lionhearted: "New Orders")

Known vessels

Nova-class starships

Canon ships: Equinox - Nova - Rhode Island
Other notable ships: Aurora - Beltane - Binary - Blade - Chevalier - Darwin - Expedition - Infinite - Jacqueline Dorsey - Kentaurus - Koru - Mercedes-A - New York - Pioneer - Polaris - Pulsar - Silverlight - Shark - Sojourner - Solstice - Vitality
Last Unicorn Games: Aurora - Binary - Helix - K'shal - Nadir - Pulsar - Solstice - VanDenBroeck
Trekmania: Alice Springs - Archon - Cepheid - Clarke - Corona - Cosmos - DeMorra - Florida - Gerrard - Havana - Hubble - Icarus - John Paul Jones - Kraken - Meridian - Partridge - Ranger - Solaris - Star - Stuttgart - Tuscany - Victoria - Wallsey - Zodiac
Uprated Nova class: Rhode Island

External links

This article uses material from the "Nova class" article on the ST Expanded wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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