David with star trek manual

Say what you want about the USS Discovery, at least it adheres to the 1975 Starfleet technical manual

Today I saw the trailer for the new Star Trek TV series which has recently been revealed will be called “Star Trek Discovery” (with lack of colon, just like the recent movies). The trailer is the first look at the ship, which you can see here:

There’s been chatter about the look of the starship already, and if I know Star Trek fans, there’ll be a lot of hate (nobody does hate like a Star Trek fan!). In fact it’s so different to what we’ve seen before that I bet fans are going to freak!

Although there’s some news that should at least pacify the JJ-Trek haters, this new series will be set in the Prime universe, which means it’ll either be before the original series or after. Perhaps even before Enterprise, or after Voyager.

But going back to the look of the ship, which to me looks more original series than the look of the later ships (Voyager, Enteprise-E etc), it actually looks familiar, It’s quite similar to some concept sketches for “Phase II”, a series planned in the 1970s with the original series cast. Here’s what it might have looked like:

Enterprise Phase II by Ralph McQuarrie

Enterprise Phase II by Ralph McQuarrie

It’s not exact, but the triangular shape is quite similar. Although some people have already said it looks more Klingon than Federation. Possibly a hint that it’s some sort of hybrid?

USS Discovery

So we still don’t know when this is set, but one clue might be the ship’s registration number, which is NCC-1031. 1031 is earlier than the Enteprise’s 1701, so could this be a prequel, much earlier than Original series, or even Enterprise?

The registration numbers have always been random, and Enterprise had the registry NX-01, although it certainly wasn’t the first starship ever (others were mentioned in the series), so maybe it’s just arbitrary.

USS Discovery NCC 1031

To try and understand where these numbers come from, I cracked open an old book that I’d been given as a present a while ago. The 1975 Starfleet technical manual:

Starfleet technical manual

Ok, yes, this is VERY geeky! The book is filled with very technical details about every aspect of the Federation, and it’s actually hilarious how much effort has gone into very mundane things, down to the uniforms, ship classifications, and even the height of the chairs on the bridge!

bridge chairs

I couldn’t find anything that explains how ships get their numeric registration, but I did find Starfleet’s guidelines on what font to use.

starfleet font guide


It specifies the font should be “Microgramma Ext”, and look at the font on the new ship:

USS Discovery Microgramma ext font

I even downloaded the font to make sure it’s the same. It’s a perfect match!

Bearing in mind this book was published before The Next Generation, and is over 40 years old by this point, some aspects of it are still being adhered to, and I’m happy that the screenshot of the new starship uses the font dictated in the book. I can only assume the designers of this new series are looking over old sources like this book and making sure they get everything absolutely perfect, to pacify the potential haters.

What’s funny though is that Voyager doesn’t even use this font. Well, it looks similar, but isn’t quite the correct case.

voyager font

Is this a hint perhaps that the new series will be set closer in a time to the original series (after which the book was published) than the later series? And the designers are trying to closely match the original aesthetic.