Starfleet engineers, working with a Challenger engineering officer, constructed a new Challenger — given the registry NCC-1676-A — using the extant secondary hull and a primary hull originally scheduled for a Miranda-class vessel.
The resulting hybrid was called (but never formally designated) a pocket battleship, since it retained the photon torpedo launchers and phaser banks of an Enterprise-subclass ship, combined with the phaser banks, photon torpedo banks and megaphaser cannon of a Miranda.
- Although no engineering manual was done by the Starfleet International chapter, it seems possible to align the secondary hull’s warp power conduits to those in the primary hull; coupled with the use of megaphasers, this means that this was Starfleet’s only starship with more than one M/AM reactor, until the building of USS Prometheus. (VOY: "Message in a Bottle")
Officially, only one of these hybrid starships was constructed to "full-build"; a second, USS Potadeia, was constructed to 57 percent of completion before the project was canceled. Several reasons were behind its cancellation:
- Although Enterprise-type secondary hulls would be commonplace following the class’ decommissioning in the late 2290s, Mirandas continued to prove their worth as they could be modified for a variety of mission roles at a cheaper cost;
- The Khitomer Conference — and the warming of relations with the Klingons — marked a cessation of building pure military ships, much like the Excelsior-class’s missions were changed from space control ship and battleship to heavy cruiser/explorer;
- And the loss of Challenger-A herself, following an encounter with the USS Intrepid II. At that time, it was not known that the loss was not due to any engineering problems, but rather because the ship had been thrown forward in time to 2370.
In 2370, Challenger-A was decommissioned and most of her crew given the Galaxy-class USS Challenger-D. The Challenger-A’s firepower was comparable to contemporary ships, and could have taken part in battles against the Dominion. However, many of the so-called "Frankenstein fleet" fared poorly. Though Challenger-A was based on better engineering principles, Starfleet decided not to recommission her.
- The Potadeia was the Enterprise-class secondary hull seen. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II")
The starship was named after the American space shuttle Challenger that disintegrated 73 seconds into its tenth mission, STS-51-L, on 28 January 1986. This resulted in the deaths of all seven crew members including a civilian school teacher, Christa McAuliffe.
|Starships named Challenger|
|Challenger (NX-03) - USS Challenger (Daedalus-class) - USS Challenger (NCC-1676) - USS Challenger (NCC-1676-A) - USS Challenger (NCC-1676-D) - USS Challenger (NCC-1863) - USS Challenger (NCC-12886) - USS Challenger (NCC-21087) - USS Challenger (NCC-71099) - USS Challenger (NCC-75167) - USS Challenger (NCC-92382)|
Challenger has been a chapter of Starfleet International based in the Toms River, New Jersey area since 1988. (Starfleet International: Scott A. Akers, et al., Master Genealogy: Starfleet Region7) Its longtime president is Robert Vosseller, Jr.
The USS Challenger was originally designated NCC-1666 (probably according to the FASA RPG). The Starfleet International chapter decided against that number and went instead as NCC-1676.
It has been presumed, but not established (unlike the Challenger-A), that the -B and -C followed the lineage of the USS Enterprise, that they were Excelsior and Ambassador-class ships. Alternately, the Challenger-C could very well be the class ship of the Challenger-class USS Buran present at Wolf 359 in 2366-67.
As well, the Challenger-D's being the fifth such named ship is true only for that NCC number and does not take into account the Daedalus-class cruiser, nor the Byrd-class survey cruiser from Task Force Games/Star Fleet Battles nor the ship from DC Comics' "Thin Ice."