The Starfleet Runabout is a development of the warp capable shuttle craft which have been in use since the earliest days of the Federation. The first requirement for the Runabout, issued in 2342, called for a vessel based on the Type 9A cargo shuttle but capable of short and medium range interstellar operations carrying out limited spatial and planetary surveys. The fuselage was lengthened from 10.5 to 14.8 metres, allowing a much larger antimatter fuel cell to be installed to increase the vessels endurance from 36 hours to fifteen days at Warp 2.2. The two person emergency transporter was replaced by a one person fully functional model, and the rear of the cargo bay was fitted with four bunks. The remaining cargo space was used to expand the front cabin and install extra electronics systems.
The Type 10 Runabout proved reasonably successful in service, though the small cabin size limited its operations somewhat. Starfleet has gradually enlarged and improved the Runabout concept over the next twenty years or so, culminating in the Danube class Runabout first requested in 2363. This vehicle was designed to accomplish four main missions; the ability to perform rapid response scientific expedition transportation, the ability to act as an orbital or landed temporary operations base for science missions, the ability to transport intact experiment and cargo modules, and the ability to perform tactical missions such as intelligence gathering, covert insertion/extraction of personnel, and disruption of threat activities where feasible.
The Danube features a front cabin for the crew of pilot, co-pilot/navigator and two mission specialists. A two person transporter is at the rear of the cabin, with swappable mission modules aft of this. The modular nature of the Danube allows it to be configured for missions such as personnel transport, cargo transport, scientific research, tactical, medical, etc. Above the main spaces is the warp core, which is fed by an antimatter fuel pod at the aft and its matter equivalent at the fore end. The power transfer conduits run down the bulky nacelle roots, which also contain the impulse drive reactors and various other equipment.
The impulse engines comprise two sets of four fusion reactors, plus space-time drive coils and vectored exhaust directors. The system also includes interstellar or atmospheric intake vents and condenser-separators for fuel distillation. Control and fuel feed connections are essentially identical to any comparable impulse system. When maintenance is required, the entire assembly can be removed as a single unit.
The vehicles twin computer core is located under the cockpit subfloor and measures 2.3 x 2.1 x 1.3 metres. It is a standard isolinear unit, with a total of 186 isolinear banks and 53 command pre-processors and data analysis units. Subnodes distributed throughout the vehicle report to the main computer via a standard ODN system.
The Danube’s tactical systems are surprisingly comprehensive for a vehicle of its size. The microtorpedo launchers fire 14 cm torpedoes with photon or quantum warheads. If required the Danube can also carry four full size torpedoes. As on a starship, the shield system is fed by a portion of the warp power output.
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