(covers information from several alternate timelines)
This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Discovery, and thus may contain spoilers.
Like the contemporaneous Nimitz-class and the later 23rd century Constellation-class, as well as the 24th century Cheyenne- and Prometheus-classes, this type was noted for being one of the small number of Federation classes that had more than two nacelles. (TNG: "The Battle", "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II"; VOY: "Message in a Bottle"; et al.)
Ships of the class
The class name came from a list of test pilots and space pioneers compiled by the art department. Eaves found that US Air Force brigadier general Robert Cardenas had piloted the B-29 plane that launched Chuck Yeager's first manned supersonic flight aboard a Bell X-1. (Star Trek: Discovery The Official Starships Collection: USS Buran, "Designing The Cardenas Class", pg. 14)
The design that would become the Cardenas-class started as one of Eaves' concepts for the USS Shenzhou in mid-July 2016. Early drawings were labeled "USS Stewart, Hitchcock-class", "USS Haise (NCC-8077), Fullerton-class", and later "USS Stewart (NCC-1597), Liberator-class, launched stardate 242.141", before finally being approved as the USS Yeager. Stewart was a reference to Jimmy Stewart's experience as a bomber pilot in World War II. (Star Trek: Discovery The Official Starships Collection: USS Buran, "Designing The Cardenas Class", pg. 8-13)
From early in the design process, placing the bridge at the front-end of the ship rather than the top-center of the saucer was meant to convey designs built prior to the era of Star Trek: The Original Series. (Star Trek: Discovery The Official Starships Collection: USS Buran, "Designing The Cardenas Class", pg. 10-11)
Eaglemoss Collections released the USS Buran model as part of the Star Trek: Discovery The Official Starships Collection on 11 October 2018, featuring input from designer John Eaves, and listing the ship as 441 meters in length. The article was republished as part of Star Trek: Discovery Designing Starships in September 2019.