The USS Constellation (NCC-1017) was a 23rd century Federation Constitution-class starship operated by Starfleet. In 2267, the Constellation and her crew of four hundred were under the command of Commodore Matt Decker.
In that year, on stardate 4202.1, while on routine deep space exploration, the Constellation encountered several destroyed star systems, including systems L-370 through L-374. Although exceptionally heavy subspace interference prevented contact with Starfleet, the ship began to investigate.
Upon entering the L-374 system, the ship's science officer, Masada, discovered that L-374 IV was breaking up. Upon closer inspection, an enormous planet killer was found hovering over it, slicing out chunks of the planet with an antiproton beam.
While attempting to intervene, the Constellation was attacked by the planet killer. The ship's deflector shields were easily pierced and the resulting damage crippled the ship, forcing it to hide in the inner system. Nearly without power, all but defenseless, and with the life support system failing, Decker ordered his crew to abandon ship and beam down to L-374 III where they could take refuge. The commodore remained behind to operate the transporters. Attempts to contact Starfleet failed and a distress call was sent out.
The robot attacked the Constellation once more, knocking out the transporters and stranding Decker on the ship alone. The robot then proceeded to devour L-374 III, killing the ship's crew on the surface. The deaths of four hundred of his crew had a severe psychological impact on the commodore.
A short time later, on stardate 4202.9, the USS Enterprise picked up Constellation's distress call while passing through that sector. The signal was extremely weak and only the word "Constellation" could be made out.
The Enterprise soon located the Constellation, adrift, and determined it to be wrecked by the same disaster that destroyed the systems within the sector. The damage analysis on the Constellation found a display of abnormal energy output: all power plants were dead, reserve energy banks were at a very low power level, and the life support systems were barely operative.
The entire bridge was damaged and uninhabitable; however, the rest of the ship was able to sustain life. Radiation levels were normal; atmospheric pressure was at eleven pounds per square inch. The ship's computer system was still intact, but its filtration systems were out, and the Constellation's communication systems were shorted out as well.
The warp drive was deemed "a hopeless pile of junk", and the impulse engines were not "too badly off" despite having their control circuits fused solid. The ship's phaser banks were nominally operational, but required recharging.
Once the Enterprise's landing party beamed aboard the Constellation, they found the entire ship a mess. The landing party split up: Chief Engineer Scott's team went to the engineering section, while Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy tried to find Decker or his crew.
However, there were no bodies or survivors present. It was assumed that the crew wasn't abducted, but had simply left. Kirk called Spock on the Enterprise and asked if the crew may have beamed to one of the two planets they found intact when they entered L-374.
Spock commented that the two planets were uninhabitable to Human life; one had a surface the temperature of molten lead, and the other had a poisonous atmosphere. From this, they concluded that the entire crew was on one of the now-destroyed class M planets.
Eventually, the landing party found Decker in auxiliary control, passed out. Kirk tried to get everything possible from Decker, but he needed treatment on board the Enterprise.
The landing party finally acquired the captain's log and played the recording, discovering the true fate of the destroyed star systems. The Enterprise was prepared to take the Constellation in tow, so Decker and McCoy beamed aboard the Enterprise while Kirk and his party remained.
The robot once again returned to L-374 and attacked the Enterprise. After some hasty repairs, the Constellation was operable enough to have a single phaser bank recharged, shield power was temporarily restored, and one half impulse power was available.
However, nothing could be done after the machine had attacked. After the Enterprise had made a number of unsuccessful attempts to stop the robot, it was determined by Kirk that the only way to destroy it was by exploding the Constellation inside the robot since now the Constellation had little else to offer with its commanding officer and entire crew dead.
At first, Kirk thought of activating the ship's self-destruct system, but, there was not enough power for the destruct system to be put into action. Kirk ordered Scott to overload the Constellation's impulse engines from auxiliary control in thirty seconds with no way to reverse it.
While Scott beamed back aboard the Enterprise and with no one else left aboard the Constellation, Kirk activated the machine. After further rigging the hulk, the impulse engines were overloaded in the maw of the robot creating a 97.835 megaton fusion explosion that destroyed the Constellation and rendered the planet killer inert. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine")
|Starships named Constellation|
|ECS Constellation • USS Constellation (NCC-1017) • USS Constellation (NX-1974) • USS Constellation (NCC-55817)|
|USS Ahwahnee • USS Constellation • USS Defiant • USS Eagle • USS Emden • USS Endeavour • USS Enterprise • USS Enterprise-A • USS Excalibur • USS Exeter • USS Hood • USS Intrepid • USS Korolev • USS Lexington • USS Potemkin • NCC-1700 • Unnamed|
|Mirror universe: USS Defiant • ISS Enterprise|
|Alternate reality: USS Enterprise • USS Enterprise-A • Unnamed|
The Constellation studio model was constructed from a 1966 first edition AMT Enterprise model kit, Number S921. The model was burnt and scorched for its appearance. (Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 158)) That particular edition sported a decal sheet with only the "NCC-1701" decal, and, with very limited options, its numbers had to be rearranged to create the unusually low "NCC-1017" Constellation registry number, the first new registry actually seen on a ship – and, as it turned out, also the only time in the original airing of the Original Series.
The name of the ship had already been established by the producers at the start of second season of Star Trek: The Original Series, when they composed a definitive fourteen ship list belonging to the Constitution-class, then still referred to as "Starship-class" by them, including the Constellation. The Constellation has been a consideration from the start. D.C. Fontana's "(...)famous fighting ships of the past(...)" annotation on her first memo proposal indicated she had the 18th century American warship USS Constellation – the very first commissioned by the United States Navy – in mind when suggesting the name, though her colleague Robert Justman had the contemporary aircraft carrier of the same name on his mind. (The Making of Star Trek, pp. 164-165)
A faked version of the remastered Doomsday Machine episode trailer had the USS Constellation relabeled as the USS Consolation as part of a prank engineered by the staff of CBS Digital (producers of the FX for the Remastered TOS episodes) on FX Supervisor Niel Wray. The prank also involved a faked version of the Trekmovie.com website, as well – complete with fake user comments detailing the mislabeling of the Constellation into the Consolation. The results of the stunt can be seen here.
According to the CD-ROM game Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, the Constellation was severely damaged when engaging the Klingon flagship, IKS K'lirta, in combat. This occurred just before the Organian Peace Treaty.
The Constellation and her crew appear in the story "The First Artifact" in The Brave and the Bold, Book One, set a year prior to "The Doomsday Machine", where the Constellation is paired with the Enterprise to stop a planet-wide plague caused by an ancient weapon. The mirror universe Constellation appears in The Sorrows of Empire, where rather than be destroyed by a planet killer, she is refitted to the same specifications as the ISS Enterprise (based on the refit of "our" Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture). The Constellation is the flagship of the mirror counterpart of Matt Decker, commander-in-chief of the Imperial Starfleet, until he is killed by his own crew (at the instigation of Spock) in 2277.
The alternate reality version of the Constellation appears in the comic crossover mini-series Star Trek - Green Lantern: The Spectrum War where it was patrolling the border of the Alpha and Delta Quadrants when it was suddenly attacked and destroyed by the Gorn Glocon, who was chosen by a Red Lantern Power Ring that had crossed over from another universe to be its bearer and started being trained in the use of its power by Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lantern Corps who came from the same universe as the ring, with Glocon's attack on the Constellation as a declaration of war between the Federation and the Gorn Hegemony.