The Altair-class was known as a reliable and economical class of vessel that could be repaired easily and was produced in great numbers. It served as a mid-range freighter able to transport and small- and medium-sized cargos as well as a few passengers to distant star systems (Decipher RPG module: Starships).
For propulsion, the Altair-class had a PB-1 Mod 1 linear warp drive, a reliable model that was easy for crews to maintain and repair. These enabled an Altair carrying cargo to sustain warp factor 4 and go a little over warp 5 for short durations when required. The two warp nacelles were recessed inside cowlings on either side of the main hull. The SBE impulse engines, a common feature of vessels of the Altair's size, were equally reliable and used easily replicated parts. They were capable of sub-light speeds of up to 0.5 c. The impulse thrusters were placed directly aft. The ship was too big for atmospheric flight.
For defense, the Altair had an old, low-powered PFF 1 deflector shield grid that offered protection against ion storms, meteor showers, and stellar anomalies (Decipher RPG module: Starships). Much of the energy produced by the engines was allocated to the deflector shields (CCG set: Deep Space Nine, card: "Rigelian freighter"). Though the class came without any armaments, a few captains installed a pulse phaser or disruptor bank, though they pushed the limits of their power supply to do so.
The vessel measured 62 meters in length, 25 meters in width and 11 meters in height, with 2 decks. Two cargo storage bays were placed on either side of the primary hull, underneath the dorsal spine down the center. These were detachable, enabling easy and quick drop-off and pick-up of preconfigured containers at drydocks and storage facilities. They had space to carry 250 standard cargo units.
It required a crew of 4, with space for 6 passengers, though with limited accommodations for all. Fully stocked with supplies, an Altair could travel six months before requiring service. It was recommended that it be overhauled every 15 years.
It had a class 1 computer operations system, a class 1 life support system, a class 1 sensor system, and tractor beams. The vessel was equipped with one standard personnel transporter and two industrial cargo transporters.
The Altair-class was commissioned in 2240 and constructed in the Gavor Shipyards of Tellar. It was originally intended as a Starfleet transport vessel, but it turned out to be too underpowered for Starfleet’s needs, as well as an easy target for raiders. After a brief career, the contract was dropped in favor of the Antares-class. Nevertheless, it was an inexpensive and reliable freighter, easily repaired and widely available, so it soon became a popular choice for commercial use. The Altair-class formed the core of merchant fleets through the mid-23rd century and was still commonly seen in the later years of century.
Ships of this class were mostly owned and operated by independent traders and merchants, usually along the Federation frontiers (Decipher RPG module: Starships). They were also typically utilized by a number of planetary consortiums. (CCG set: Deep Space Nine, card: "Rigelian freighter") Many Orion slavers also transported slaves in Altair-class vessels, despite them not being rated for humanoid use.
Altairs remained in operation in the 24th century, though now aged and obsolete, and noted as being slow, poorly maintained and unreliable, especially after 2320. Their use was restricted to only the poorest, most desperate or unlucky of merchant captains. (Decipher RPG module: Starships)
In 2369, a Rigelian freighter of this type docked at Deep Space 9 before traveling through the Bajoran wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant. Flying a runabout, Odo shadowed the freighter to avoid Ah-kel, a Miradorn, while transporting Croden, a Rakhari fugitive, to the Gamma Quadrant. (DS9 episode: "Vortex")
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- SS Arctic Queen (NDT-891)
- SS Diamond Queen (NDT-768)
- SS Huron (NDT-802)
- SS J. Burton Ayres (NDT-838)
- SS Jade Star (NDT-794)
- SS Kathrine Clewis (NDT-850)
- SS Kay Cole (NDT-809)
- SS Marine Courier (NDT-826)
- SS Medusa Challenger (NDT-867)
- SS Medusa Conquest (NDT-772)
- SS Nicolet (NDT-812)
- SS Millenium Queen (NDT-846)
- SS Sarah Spencer (NDT-877)
- SS Senneville (NDT-780)
- SS Spar Garnet (NDT-811)
- SS Spar Jade (NDT-899)
- SS Spar Opal (NDT-854)
- The Altair-class is intended as a class name for the Rigelian freighter seen in the DS9 episode: "Vortex", for which an image is shown. However, the accompanying drawings depict a completely different ship, closer to Neelix's Drexia-class Baxial. Therefore, it is unclear which image belongs to this class. If the Rigelian freighter is indeed an Altair-class, then it would be up to 130 years old, highly unlikely given the stated history. All example ships are out of service by the 2320s.