We Don't Know When Star Trek Discovery is Set

A lot of Star Trek fans are convinced that the new show is going to be set before The Original Series, mostly based on the ship’s registry number of NCC-1031, compared to the Enterprise’s NCC-1701. I’m more than willing to eat crow when Fuller announces more details in a few days but, for now, I’m calling BS on this idea.

Registry numbers generally have gone up over time in Trek, but often don’t make much sense. The Constellation has been brought up in a number of discussions about the new show (it’s registry is NCC-1017, much lower than the Enterprise even though it’s a contemporary ship). Another ship that stuck in my mind is the Grissom from Star Trek III.

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The ship is clearly a contemporary of the other movie-era ships, but has a registry number of NCC-638, much lower than the Enterprise or Discovery.

Fuller’s comment indicated that the ship’s registry number is a clue, and I’m not discounting that. I just think the clue was taken too literally. Fuller may have meant that the registry places the ship in the TOS-era (2250-2300, roughly), as opposed to another time period (TNG, Enterprise, etc.).

So when is the show actually set? If I had to guess, I’d say the 2270s (post Star Trek: The Motion Picture and pre Wrath of Khan). There’s an entire decade there that’s untouched by the films or shows. The design of the ship also lends a few clues:

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  • The “striping” on the edge of the saucer is reminiscent of the movie-era Enterprise
  • The ship appears to have the movie style phaser ball-turrets
  • The deflector dish glows blue, like the movie-era Enterprise and Excelsior
  • The font used for the ship’s name is more in line with the movie era than the font used in The Original Series and Star Trek Enterprise
  • The design itself is derived from Ralph Mcquarrie’s concepts for an unproduced TOS sequel series/movie, which would also have been set in the 2270s
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Whatever the answer, one thing is certain. It feels great to have a new Star Trek series to theorize about!

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