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A Federation Galaxy-class explorer

In starship classification, an exploration vessel or exploratory vessel was a type of spacecraft designed for exploring unknown regions of space, operated by individuals who fancied themselves as explorers.

The 21st century NASA ship Charybdis was classified as a "exploratory shuttle" or later as an "explorer ship" . It was Earth's third manned attempt to travel beyond the Sol system. (TNG: "The Royale")

The 22nd century United Earth Starfleet starship Enterprise NX-01 was designed as a "ship of exploration". (ENT: "Acquisition", "The Forgotten") Andorian Lieutenant Talas once criticized Enterprise Lieutenant Reed, who came from a military family of three generations, for betraying his family tradition by serving on a ship of exploration. (ENT: "Proving Ground")

The USS Raven was classified as an "exploration vessel" by Drexler outpost. (VOY: "Dark Frontier").

The Federation flagship USS Enterprise-D served Starfleet in the capacity of that of a vessel of exploration. (TNG: "Legacy", "Time's Arrow, Part II")

During her time in the Delta Quadrant, USS Voyager served as a "ship of exploration." (VOY: "Prototype", "Drone")

The designation of "Explorer" type was derived from the original designs, graphics and technical drawings of the USS Enterprise-D by Andrew Probert, Rick Sternbach, and Michael Okuda. The term was never used on screen or in dialogue, but was alluded to in several references through the series' to being a "ship of exploration" or being on a "mission of exploration".
More information about the explorer designation exists in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual. This designation was mentioned in the script of TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise", noting that the alternate timeline Enterprise-D differed from the familiar explorer-type ship.

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