Earth’s first attempt at an interstellar vessel, the Starliner Class, and it’s first starship the Enterprise, would travel beyond the confines of Earths Solar System to make first contact with an alien culture. And although the general public of Earth would not find out about it’s historic mission, until after Zephram Cochrane’s first warp flight, the first starship Enterprise would eventually take it’s rightful place in humanities history. But what was the story behind this remarkable and daring vessel? Well today, we find out…
Hello and welcome to another episode of Truth OR Myth Beta Canon, a Star Trek web series that dives in to a the history of any given topic using Beta Canon sources and my own imagination to fill in the gaps. In today’s episode we’re taking a look at the Starliner Class XCV Enterprise, to better understand its place in Star Trek History. Because this IS a Beta Canon video, all information relaid should pretty much be taken with a grain of stardust, and only considered a little bit of Star Trek Fun! And so, with all that out of the way, lets begin.
The 21st Century of Earth had been a trying mess. The Eugenics War which had ended in 1996 had seen humanity come to the brink of it’s own destruction, only to be adverted after the Tyrant Khan Noonian Signh and his followers suddenly agreed to leave Earth in an Experiment Sleeper Vessel designed to search for a new planet for the Genetically Engineered Super Humans to colonize. With that problem adverted, the Governments of Earth began to refocus it’s own efforts on the stars, even constructing the International Space Station, a grand effort between fifteen nation-states in 1999.
But humanity’s unrest continued. In 2024 outcry over the deaths and circumstances leading to the Bell Riots had forced the United States of America to focus on it’s own social problems. While Earths various space agencies would continue to map the stars, while simultaneously looking for signs of life out in the great vacuum of Galactic Space. Several Space Probes, such as Nomad, would be launched in the early 21st century, though successfully launched, most would be lost to malfunction, unanticipated events or simply disappear.
The United Earth Space Probe Agency, also known as UESPA, had become Earths leading agency in the race to interstellar space. However, due to the political nature of humanity at the time, most of UESPA’s missions would be highly classified with Earth’s general population never knowing about the actual achievements this organization had accomplished.
One such highly classified project, was Starliner Class. Sitting at a length of approximately 260 meters, slightly longer then Earth’s first true Exploration Vessel class, the NX Class, the Starliner Class would have far less internal volume and be designed to be operated by a crew of only 40 crew members. Unlike it’s future counterpart however, this starship’s starships propulsion would be ring based, similar to the propulsion systems of Vulcan Starships. Also unlike it’s duo nacelle counterparts, the Starliner Class could not simply jump to warp, taking months of travel to reach enough critical velocity needed to finally make the transition to warp speed, though generally speaking, the principles behind Earths Ring drive and it’s nacelle counterparts would be the same.
The Starliner Class would also be one of the most self sufficient vessel classes of it’s time. On board would be facilities to maintain and grow food for it’s crews. specially designed water tanks to maximize and recycle water provisions, as well as specially designed drilling equipment which would allow this class to mine it’s own water, should the need arise, from icey planetary bodies. A large Shuttlebay would be located on it’s starboard side. Various repair drones and vehicles would be located in this bay, along side 2 Main Shuttlepods which could be used for planetary travel.
It was truly an impressive achievement for humanity, as it allowed the quick exploration of the human Solar System. And as far as the general public knew, this was the classes complete mission profile. Of course though, this was not the intent of class for UESPA. The United Space Probe Agency wanted the Starliner Class to be the first to wow humanity, by making it to another Star System and bringing back with it definitive proof of other Earth Type worlds. So recognizance and preparations to do just that had begun even before the first of the Class had come off the line.
Earth nearest star system neighbor, Alpha Centauri, was only 4.37 light years away. And if this starship class could truly break the warp barrier, then one of Earths Starships could be in that system in less then 5 years. So intensive preparations were made, including around the clock long range surveillance using the latest UESPA Technology of Alpha Centauri. It was then, in 2039, that UESPA would make a discovery that would shock Earths Government to it’s core, when during a test on it’s new long range sensor modules, UESPA’s Satellite S144 would discover radio transmissions coming from a planet in the ALpha Centauri Star System, specifically Proxima Centauri, a small and faint red dwarf sun of the triple sun Star System.
After confirming these radio signals were not naturally occurring, the leadership of the time, decided to keep this proof of extra-terrestrial life from Earths Population, instead commissioning a highly secretive mission, to get an Earth Vessel to the Star System as soon as possible and determine the threat level this alien species posed. The XCV 330, Enterprise, would be recalled to Spacedock under the guise of standard repair and upgrade for a mission to map the Solar Systems outer belt, but in reality was being prepared for the almost 5 year journey to Proxima Centauri.
Earth’s leadership would also incorporate a contingency plan for the mission. Should the Enterprise discover any inhabitants in the Proxima Centauri System, and should these inhabitants prove to be hostile or in the Captains estimation a threat to Earth’s Future, the starship was equipped and authorized to bombard said inhabited planet with specially designed Nuclear weapons. Thankfully, this plan was not necessary or implemented. UESPA as an agency was completely against the contingency plan, feeling that Earth should go out in to Space in friendship. But Earth’s leadership would completely overrule the agency, placing many of it’s own military person onboard the starship, although the Captain of the Ship and it’s mission would be a woman chosen by UESPA, Captain Alegra Styles.
In late 2043, 30 brave men and women would begin that journey, a journey that Earth’s leadership would not know was successful unless the starship returned in 2054. The journey of the XCV Enterprise was actually quite uneventful. The ring warp drive, when finally engaged outside the Sol System, had functioned exactly as expected, and in 2048, the Enterprise would indeed reach the Proxima Centauri Star System. What they found there was a 3 planet Star System. It’s outer planet, was a rocky ice planetoid, similar, though larger then Sol’s own dwarf planet Pluto. It’s middle planet was a Super Earth one. Though due to it’s orbit of approximately 1.5 AU’s from it’s star, was far to distant to support life. It’s inner planet however was virtually smack dab in the star systems habitable zone, and contained an atmosphere almost identical to that of Earths.
Sitting on the outer edge of the Star System, the Enterprise would conduct various scans and studies of what was then called Proxima Centauri B until it was finally determined that the radio signal did in fact originate from the planet, and that the planet itself had no form of interstellar travel or satellite detection system. Heading in to orbit of the planet, the Enterprise then launched it’s own satellite probes to monitor the surface of the planet closely, and discovered a species that appeared almost human, though with slight variations, and a society close to humanities own development circa 1940.
After 3 months of observation, it was time for the Enterprise to return home to report it’s discovery. And after collecting it’s probes, the Enterprise did in fact make a discrete withdrawal. Again, the trip back to Earth was an uneventful one, but what the Enterprise did not know, was that during their decade long voyage, World War 3 had begun. And when the Enterprise arrived back at Earth, it’s crew was shocked to discover that the war had not only been fought, but had ended almost a year prior, in a Nuclear Holocaust which had cost the lives of some 600 million humans.
Very few governments remained, with humanity devolving to a more chaotic system of of village states. UESPA head quarters on Earth, no longer existed, but lucky for the Enterprise, UESPA’s Moonbase, a self sufficient base on the surface of Luna, was not only intact, but had assumed control of all of UESPA’s assets. Reporting it’s finding to the leadership there. UESPA’s current and very conservative leaders, would decide to bury and keep classified the Enterprises mission and the proof of Alien Life in the Galaxy.
This was done for many reasons. First, UESPA felt Earth had enough problems as it was recovering from World War 3. Second, and the driving force behind this decision, was UESPA’s fear that if humanity at this time, learned of another species existence, especially one far less advanced then humanity, that the human species might go to that Solar System, not in friendship, but to conquer it. UESPA’s previous interactions with Earth leadership, had left a mark on the organization. And so the entire incident would be burried, and UESPA would keep an eye out for the right time to make this important discovery known to the people of Earth.
Of course though, with Zephram Cochrane’s launch of the Phoenix in 2063, the decision would be taken out of their hands, as a passing Vulcan Starship would detect the warp trial and decide to make first contact with Humanity, becoming one of the most influential turning points in human history. Following this event, UESPA would decide to classify the XCV Enterprise’s mission until 2263, giving humanity enough time, they felt, to adapt to the situation with in the greater galactic picture.
And when finally, the records were time released to the general public of the United Federation of Planets, November 29, would be set aside as Human Holiday to honor the heroes of that mission, even though most of the records of that time had been either lost or destroyed. As for the Starliner Class itself, it would continue to help humanity rebuild it’s civilization, explore and colonize the Sol System until more advanced, duo-nacelle designed starships would over take the ringed starship class technological wise, and the XCV Enterprise would be decommissioned, restored to completely operational status and placed along side the Phoenix in Starfleet’s Fleet Museum.
And in 2343, in celebration of the 300 year anniversary of the mission, the XCV Enterprise would recreate the historic event to much fanfare and travel once again to Proxima Centauri, using it’s original, though modified Ring Engine System to allow the craft to travel at Warp factor 4, to speed up it’s journey. these modifications would be removed once the starship was returned to it’s place in the Starfleet Museum.
And with this successful mission, the Starliner Class, as well as this First Interstellar Spaceship Enterprise would Forever be cemented in it’s rightful place, in Human History…
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