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Selected Exterior Details of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D
by Greg Tyler
March 30, 2002

With the recent release of Star Trek: The Next Generation's first season to DVD, it has become possible to scrutinize the details of the show at their highest available level of detail.

I thought it might be fun to match the windows on the six-foot-long filming miniature of the USS Enterprise-D with the 42 decks that are said to exist in the "real" starship. To do this, I made screen captures from the series' premiere episode, "Encounter at Farpoint," and compared the details on the Enterprise-D miniature with the cutaway schematic in Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda's Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual (Pocket Books, 1991), as well as the cutaway diagram in Rick Sternbach, et. al.'s Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints (Pocket Books, 1996).

Image 1 Bow of the USS Enterprise-D. Click to view full-size.

As shown in Image 1, Decks 1 through 10 run from the bridge and surrounding structures near the peak of the saucer module, down to the lower half of the saucer's rim.

The cluster of windows at the front of Deck 2 would seem to be an observation facility. In the opening scene of "Encounter at Farpoint," Picard is seen to look through a set of forward-facing windows that would seem to correspond with those on Deck 2. In reality, the room was a redress of the observation lounge set, which is located at the rear of Deck 1, behind the main bridge.

Curiously two rows of windows correspond to Deck 9. When Enterprise designer Andrew Probert designed the ship, he originally intended for the rim of both the saucer module and the battle section to be only one deck high. Deck 10 was to have included the small windows both above and below the "groove" of the rim, and Deck 9 was to have incorporated only the windows above those on the upper edge of the rim. When the Ten-Forward lounge set was developed for Star Trek: The Next Generation's second season, it is likely that the producers felt that a single row of larger windows would provide more visual interest than two smaller rows, one near the ceiling, and the other near the floor. Deck 10 was then "repositioned" to consist of only the row of windows below the groove of the saucer rim, and Deck 9 acquired a second set of windows. As redefined for the second season, Deck 10 along the rim of the saucer of the six-foot filming miniature is of insufficient height to contain the Ten-Forward lounge as seen in the series. Another anomaly is that the two rows of windows of Deck 9 were inconsistently lit on the six-foot miniature; for a given room on Deck 9, all windows should consistently either be lit or unlit.

Note that the anomalies of Decks 9 and 10 were not errors in the filming miniature at the time of its construction in 1987; they became errors through retroactive continuity by the design of the Ten-Forward lounge in 1988.

In The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine #2 (O'Quinn Studios, 1987), Andrew Probert described the grooves along the rims of the saucer and engineering hull as "essentially a fixed radar detector." The Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual would identify these features as lateral sensor arrays. Probert (in TOST:TNGM #2) described the windows surrounding the lateral sensors as "observation decks, unlighted; basically, they are dark rooms of various sizes, where people can go and watch the stars."

The tan-shaped rectangles grouped at various locations on the hull are hatches for the ship's lifeboats, referred to as escape pods in on-screen dialogue. In The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine #2, Andrew Probert said that "there are 446 lifeboats, each has an eight-place capacity; there are 414 in the primary hull and 32 in the secondary hull; total escape capacity is 3,568 people." Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda would later suggest in their Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual that "the normal lifeboat crew capacity is four, with provisions for as many as six if necessary."

Image 1 Common 3/4 forward-starboard view of the USS Enterprise-D. Click to view full-size.

Image 2, from the series main title sequence, shows Decks 10 through 16 of the Saucer Module. Note the large inset bay of lit rectangles along the centerline of Deck 14. The Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual identified the lit rectangles as the "saucer deflector array," a low-power version of the navigational deflector, used by the Saucer Module when it is separated from the remainder of the ship. It is not known if Andrew Probert intended this feature to serve that function. Since the rectangles are lit similarly to the windows in the other inset structures of Decks 14 through 16, it is possible that Probert intended for the rectangles to be large windows to an observation room of some kind.

In The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine #2, Andrew Probert mentions the captain's yacht, saying that it "has a capacity of 35 people. It's a small flying saucer capable of planet fall and is used for ultra-diplomatic missions." Although the yacht of the Enterprise-D was never seen in use during Star Trek: The Next Generation for budgetary reasons, the yacht of the Enterprise-E was prominently featured in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998).

Image 3 Starboard detail of the USS Enterprise-D. Click to view full-size.

Image 3, from "Encounter at Farpoint," shows Decks 11 through 36 of the Battle Section of the Enterprise-D. Note the lack of windows for Deck 11 along the port and starboard surfaces of the interconnecting dorsal. This is due to the extreme slant angle of the deck's outer walls.

The decks of the interconnecting dorsal between the Saucer Module and engineering hull appear to be shorter than the decks of the saucer. This is actually not the case; the windows in the upper and lower surfaces of the saucer are longer to compensate for the more shallow incline of those surfaces.

The windows near the leading edge of the interconnecting dorsal would seem to be the most likely location of the banquet room seen in the episode "Haven."

The docking ports on Deck 25, one port and one starboard, are presumably similar if not identical in configuration to the docking ports seen on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 of the first three Star Trek feature films. The port docking port of the Enterprise-D was seen in use in the first season episode "11001001." This docking port might also have been the connection point between the Enterprise-D and space station Deep Space Nine in "Emissary," the premiere episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Image 4 Aft detail of the USS Enterprise-D. Click to view full-size.

Image 4 shows Decks 1 through 10 of the Saucer Module, and Decks 8 through 21 of the Battle Section.

The interior of the Main Shuttlebay was glimpsed as a separately constructed miniature in "Cause and Effect," and a small part of it could be seen outside the shuttlecraft windows in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II." Shuttlebays 2 and 3 were represented by the same set, which was also redressed to represent other large rooms such as the cargo bays and gymnasiums.

The arboretum windows on the six-foot filming miniature are dark. A four-foot filming miniature was built in later seasons, and the arboretum windows on that miniature were lit blue.

Image 4 is from the main title sequence of every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. If you look carefully as the Enterprise flies away from the camera, you will notice movement in the windows of the observation lounge. Footage of Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard was composited behind the windows for this shot.

Image 5 Starboard ventral detail of the USS Enterprise-D. Click to view full-size.

Image 5, also from the main title sequence, shows Decks 36 through 42 of the Battle Section.

The phaser array highlighted in Image 5 is one of twelve arrays on the Enterprise-D, located as follows:

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