Why Star Trek: Picard's New Main Ship Looks Like the Classic Enterprise

The short answer is nostalgia, but the slightly longer answer speaks to Starfleet's view of itself in the 25th century.

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When we first met the U.S.S. Titan in Lower Decks, it was a Luna Class starship—but in its leap into live-action with this week’s premiere of Star Trek: Picard’s final season, she now looks very different... and more than a little familiar.

With a new command, the Titan we meet in Picard’s season three premiere has been refitted into what is called the “Neo-Constitution Class,” a riff on the Enterprise-A refit. “I saw this incredible starship designed by digital artist Bill Krause called the U.S.S Shangri-La, which was a Star Trek: Motion Picture-era class ship with a half saucer on top and an Excelsior-inspired Next Generation curve on the bottom, which I thought was really interesting,” Terry Matalas, Picard’s showrunner, recently told Variety. “I said to production designer Dave Blass, ‘I think the Titan should feel something like this.’”

Krause’s Shangri-La design appeared in last year’s Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendar, in an illustration depicting it as a 23rd-century Starfleet design. With Picard bringing the modern Trek continuity into the early 25th century, why was the nearly 200-year-old ship design the basis for this contemporary vessel? According to Matalas: cars. “I missed a proper saucer section on the top part of a starship, and I couldn’t help but notice how many cars have gone retro these days,” the showrunner continued. “And I remember, as I was driving around, I thought, ‘What if Starfleet did that?’”


Of course, in our universe, it’s because it means Picard’s third season, already bringing a boatload of nostalgia with its returning host of TNG stars, gets to set much of its adventure aboard a ship that looks like the original U.S.S. Enterprise. But there’s something fascinating about the idea of Starfleet bringing back classic design language from its history—something that, at least on screen, we’ve not seen all that much. Designs, especially for refit starships, have felt iterative, or new classes of vessel have emulated aesthetics from others (like TNG’s Galaxy Class Enterprise-D echoing the original’s Constitution Class design). But the Titan-A and the idea of a “Neo” version of a Starfleet vessel is something altogether different.

The Starfleet we know of in Picard’s time is coming out of a period of recalcitrance and isolationand just decades before it, a war that nearly destroyed it entirely. Perhaps it makes sense then that, on reflection, as a new century begins and the Federation picks itself up from a period of crisis, that it wants its flagships to reflect an old era—a time of optimism and exploration. It makes the idea of an OG Enterprise nostalgia sitting at the heart of Picard’s nostalgia for TNG work a little better, too. No doubt we’ll get some suitably TNG-laden ship nostalgia later in Picard’s third season anyway, when the actual latest version of the Enterprise shows up.

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