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Triumph and Failure of the Excelsior
The USS Excelsior (NCC-2000) is the class leader or prototype for all other ships belonging to the Excelsior Class. A Starfleet-designed and made vessel, it was first seen in the movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and again in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: Generations, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In addition, various Excelsior-class ships have been featured in the TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the final episode of Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Excelsior Class ships were noted for being the first to be designed to have highly-classified transwarp capabilities, where their engines operated by capturing the warp envelope in a transporter field and beaming it ahead of the ship to attain high warp speeds. This excited many in Starfleet, since it would allow exploration even deeper into space. Transwarp would also make the USS Excelsior the fastest ship in all of the Federation, surpassing the capabilities of the USS Enterprise. Some Starfleet engineers were skeptical of the new technology. However, transwarp was not included as a staple component in other Excelsior class ships after the failing of the transwarp on a USS Excelsior. The prototype ship was called for a mission to pursue a renegade USS Enterprise only a few days before testing of its transwarp capabilities was scheduled to take place. As the Enterprise entered warp speed and left the system, Captain Styles of the USS Excelsior confidently ordered the pursuit and ordered maximum speed- only to be met with dead space as a result. Later, it was revealed that Captain Montgomery Scott, who was part of the original crew of the Enterprise but had worked on the Excelsior as a captain of engineering, had sabotaged the transwarp computer in order to prevent it from catching up with the Enterprise. He presented the missing parts to Captain Kirk when both were aboard the Enterprise. As a result of the sabotage, later Excelsior Class ships were outfitted with normal warp drives.
Aside from the failed transwarp drive, a number of highly innovative technologies were incorporated in the USS Excelsior, leading Starfleet insiders to coin the prototype USS Excelsior as ‘The Great Experiment’. In order to ensure maximum performance, each of the new components and systems was tested separately. As expected of top notch new technologies, many adjustments were made during the testing process, leading to a delay in the commission of ships belonging to the class. Specifically, engineers faced malfunctions with the primary systems that would not allow the secondary or back-up systems to be tested. Hunting out these problems until all the systems were up to standards was the main reason for the delay. The original line of the Excelsior Class were outfitted with 16 phasers and 4 photon torpedoes, and had an updated version of the quadri-transduce shield, which delivered more power. All Excelsior Class ships were constructed in the Sol III and Sol IV shipyards.
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