A Close Look at the USS Voyager NCC-74656 - By Rick Sternbach.
When the Star Trek art department designs a new ship no detail is ignored. As Voyager's designer Rick Sternbach reveals, if you look closely at the hull you will see that it is bristling with systems and equipment.

The Intrepid-class USS Voyager NCC-74656 underwent a five-month birthing process, gliding across television screens countless times, been damaged in battle, and has landed on strange alien worlds. Most of the hull components are easily identified, and have been seen in action, phaser arrays, nacelles, photon torpedo launchers, and the navigational deflector dish. However there are also many other components that have not been used or received as much attention, such as the burnt orange-colored reaction control system (RCS) thrusters, or the ovals cut into deck 9 are extendible airlocks. Even though most of these components won't be featured, Sternbach none-the-less designed them on his Voyager blueprints and then built by Tony Meininger's Brazil Fabrication, as well as made into computer generated images of Voyager by Santa Barbara Studios, Foundation Imaging, Digital Muse, and Digital Magic. The causal viewer may not notice these details, but they're well understood by Trekkies and those that frequent the numerous technical news groups on the internet.

One of the most asked about feature on Voyager is the ship-like outline under the saucer section. The craft is called the aeroshuttle, originally called an aerowing shuttle, it is designed after a runabout, with aerodynamic wings and vertical lift engines. The aeroshuttle has yet to be seen in use, as Sternbach explains possibly because not all of the necessary systems were installed when Voyager left Deep Space 9. Located in the same area are two curved rows of sensor pallets, deck 9 windows, and part of the defensive shield grid. It is a little known fact that the bridge is a free-flying module, complete with maneuvering thrusters. The bridge also contains two turbolift docking shafts, sensor pallets, formation lights, and escape pods.

Aft of the bridge and going down Voyager's spine, include a couple of airlock doors, a large sensor platform, and the aft torpedo launchers. The two hatches were deliberate copies of the Stage 9 shuttlebay/holodeck doors in case a part of the hull was built. The shuttlebay exterior shows a large corrugated pressure door and another standard airlock door, as well as graphic approach guides, formation lights, and Voyager's registry number.

Voyager was the first ship to feature an auxiliary deflector dish on the forward hull, later incorporated in Sternbach's design of the Nova-class. There's also a large bank of sensor instruments that provides data on phenomena. At the sides of the auxiliary deflector are transport emitters, large, flat antennae, that are also positioned in other locations that are responsible for sending and receiving the transporters' focused matter streams.

The phaser arrays come directly from the Type 10 phasers designed for the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D - large, multi-emitter strips strategically placed on the hull for maximum coverage. Warning graphics and systems notices surround the phasers and placed around the escape pod hatches and various other access panels. Groupings of half-round tubes generally follow the defensive shield grid are part of the structural integrity field system [SIF], which keep the ship rigidized during high impulse and warp flight or an attack from an alien starship.

Behind the aeroshuttle are two fan-shaped doors that lead up to a pair of cargo bays, airlocks, SIF reinforcements, and a faceted hexagon with small flap doors in the center. From here a small, one person workpod, or possibly a work bee, for repairing the hull. The workpod is outfitted with a variety of mechanical and energy tools, that can weld hull plating.

One of the most recognizable features on Starfleet vessels is the navigational deflector dish, a giant energy device for clearing again interstellar debris from a starship's path. It also functions as the main long-range sensor. The inner antenna is divided into smaller nested shapes, mostly as an interesting breakup of the dish than any specific scientific reason. Though Sternbach describes it as his goal to create it to be both stylistically consistant and technically plausible, and as a small homage to the original Enterprise.

On the engineering hull of Voyager are three sets of plates which support the warp propulsion system. The forward plate covers the spare warp core, actually a set of replacements parts and not a true "plug 'n' play" warp reactor. The middle plate contains the antimatter loading port, a large magnetic valve that keeps the antimatter from coming in contact with matter during the transfer to the storage pods. The aft cover plate contains the actual operational warp core hatch, for ejecting the warp core seen in "Day of Honor." They also contain a pair of long plasma flush vents and a pair of emergency antimatter release vents. There are four landing strut hatches, located aft of the deflector dish. The landing pads were designed to fit to fold compactly into a single deck.