Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
- For other uses, see Discovery.
- For the mirror universe counterpart, see ISS Discovery (NCC-1031).
- "This ship has quickly become the most important weapon in the Federation's arsenal in our war against the Klingons. And because of her, the tide has turned. Because of us, we are winning."
- —Michael Burnham, personal log, 2256[src]
Service history and disposition
Discovery was launched from the San Francisco Fleet Yards. Command was given to Captain Gabriel Lorca who, unbeknownst to Starfleet Command, was in fact a Terran from the mirror universe and sought to use the ship to return to his universe. (DSC episodes: "Context Is For Kings", "Vaulting Ambition")
After war broke out between the Federation and the Klingon Empire in May 2256, the Discovery and her sister ship the USS Glenn were tasked by Starfleet with a top secret mission to develop a new kind of faster-than-light drive utilizing spores from the fungus Prototaxites stellaviatori. Discovery was assigned to work with Lieutenant Paul Stamets who managed to have Lorca pull some strings and take on Cadet Sylvia Tilly. (DSC comic: "Discovery Annual")
In November of the same year, Lorca puppeted events so that the Discovery would cross paths with the prison shuttle of former officer Michael Burnham. Lorca assigned her to work with Stamets' team in developing the new spore drive, and after joining the boarding party to the disabled USS Glenn, Burnham accepted Lorca's offer of parole to work aboard the Discovery. (DSC episode: "Context Is For Kings")
With the help of the captured creature named Ripper and the tech salvaged from the Glenn, the Discovery was able to make a significant jump to Corvan II and saved the mining colony from a Klingon attack. (DSC episode: "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry")
When Lorca went off for a meeting at Starfleet Command, his shuttle was ambushed by Klingons and he was taken prisoner. Left in command, Commander Saru launched a rescue mission where it was revealed that using Ripper to navigate the ship was killing the creature. After Lorca had been retrieved, Ripper was set free with Ash Tyler joining the ship as its new security chief. Stamets meanwhile had injected himself with a sample of Ripper's DNA allowing him to substitute for the creature. (DSC episode: "Choose Your Pain")
In escaping prison, Lorca had made an enemy of Harry Mudd who somehow escaped and tracked down Lorca, trapping Discovery in a time loop and intending to sell the ship and its technology off to the Klingons. As a result of Stamets now existing outside the normal time/space continuum, the crew was able to anticipate Mudd's plans and returned him to Stella Mudd and Barron Grimes. (DSC episode: "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad")
Discovery was later dispatched to Pahvo to try and take advantage of the planet's natural crystalline transmitter in cracking the Klingon cloaking devices. The mission hit a snag when it was discovered that Pahvo was inhabited, with the native Pahvans inviting both Starfleet and the Klingons to their world to try and attain peace. (DSC episode: "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum")
Though Discovery was ordered to return to Federation space, Lorca rallied his crew to find a way to break through the cloak so they could defend Pahvo. After an away team had planted sensors aboard the Sarcophagus, Discovery performed 133 micro-jumps and collected the data needed to penetrate the cloaking device, destroying its foe. Before returning home, Stamets told Lorca he would resign after performing one last spore jump. His hand forced, Lorca overrode the navigational protocols and had Discovery jump to the mirror universe, her arrival sending the ISS Discovery across to the prime universe. (DSC episodes: "Into the Forest I Go", "Despite Yourself", "Vaulting Ambition")
After disguising the Discovery as her Terran counterpart, Lorca baited the crew with information on the USS Defiant, having Burnham pose as her Terran self and take them both to the ISS Shenzhou. (DSC episode: "Despite Yourself")
Emperor Philippa Georgiou eventually discovered Burnham's true identity and offered her all the data on the Defiant in exchange for the blueprints to Discovery's spore drive. Reluctantly, Burnham and Saru agreed to make the trade. (DSC episode: "Vaulting Ambition")
As Discovery warped to the ISS Charon, Burnham contacted them about Lorca's true identity and plan. Saru in turn warned her of the danger the Terran abuse of mycelium was posing. When Burnham managed to lower the Charon's shields, Discovery destroyed her, using the mycelium explosion to jump back to their own universe, albeit nine months after they'd left. (DSC episode: "What's Past Is Prologue")
Discovery arrived back to a grim site, with the Klingons being on the verge of victory. To cripple their foes in one fell swoop, Starfleet Command assigned Emperor Georgiou, having unwillingly been brought aboard Discovery as it jumped universes, command of the ship to lead a genocidal attack on Qo'noS. (DSC episode: "The War Without, The War Within")
Georgiou's away team soon discovered her orders with Burnham rallying the crew to rebel against orders so blatantly contrary to everything the Federation stood for. Instead, they opted to have L'Rell assume control of the Klingon Empire, with her forcing her people to stand down and instead focus on reunifying their race.
Back on Earth, the senior staff were each awarded the Starfleet Medal of Honor for their heroism. For her first post-war mission, Discovery was assigned to transport Ambassador Sarek back to Vulcan where she would receive a new captain, only to receive a priority one distress call from the USS Enterprise, dropping out of warp to meet the other ship. (DSC episode: "Will You Take My Hand?")