Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: The USS Discovery Already Has The Secret To Rebuild The Federation

Star Trek: Discovery already has the secret to rebuilding the Federation, onboard its titular starship. Star Trek: Discovery season 3 has launched to popular and critical acclaim, with Michael Burnham emerging in the 32nd century. To her delight, she soon learns her time travel mission has been a great success; she has averted a dystopian timeline in which a rogue artificial intelligence annihilated all life in the galaxy.

Burnham soon learns she's dealing with the strangest new world she has ever experienced. In this future timeline, a mysterious event called the Burn destroyed almost all the dilithium in the galaxy, crippling galactic powers such as the Federation. Starfleet has diminished to a shadow of its former glory, with isolated "True Believers" scattered all over the galaxy and unable to work together because of the vast distances and the shortage of dilithium. Presumably all other galactic powers have declined as well, because nobody has stepped up to fill the power vacuum left by the crumbling Federation.

Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now

The USS Discovery doesn't appear in the season 3 premiere, since the time-tossed starship was being pulled in Burnham's wake when she was knocked off course by Book's ship, and will presumably arrive sometime after her. Burnham herself has no idea when her crew will arrive at their destination; apparently by the laws of temporal mechanics, Discovery could arrive tomorrow - or in a thousand years' time. Of course, it's reasonable to assume the ship will arrive sooner rather than later, for narrative convenience if nothing else. When it does arrive, Discovery will bring everything Burnham and the True Believers need to begin rebuilding the Federation.

The USS Discovery Is A Crew Of True Believers

Burnham is used to a time when the Federation was a strong, albeit new, galactic power - one great enough to be a major participant in a galactic war. But the Federation of 3188 is greatly diminished, with the flag seen in the premiere showing just six stars - six member states. Disturbingly, that flag is itself old, meaning the Federation could have dwindled still further. With galactic civilization collapsing due to the shortage of dilithium, the ideals of the Federation - the concept of peaceful cooperation itself - seems outdated. Adherents to Starfleet are called "True Believers," suggesting the rest of the galaxy sees Starfleet as a faith rather than a solid ideology. And the True Believers are scattered and divided, with no backup or support to call upon.

Enter the crew of the USS Discovery, a group who have demonstrated time and again their commitment to the ideals of the Federation. In Star Trek: Discovery season 1, the crew refused to allow the Federation to lose its way. They mutinied rather than let the Federation destroy Qo'Nos. In the wake of the Klingon War, they wound up led by Captain Christopher Pike, one of Starfleet's best and brightest, who refreshed and inspired them with his example. They have brought those beliefs, that almost unshakeable commitment to the Federation, into 3188. Suddenly the galaxy has an entire starship full of True Believers - a massive cultural shift. And, delightfully, that's not all - because, of course, this crew are flying a very unique starship.

The USS Discovery Itself Is A Game Changer

The collapse of the Federation began roughly 100-120 years ago, when the entire galaxy was shaken in an event remembered as "The Burn." For some still unknown reason, most of the dilithium in the galaxy spontaneously exploded, taking out countless starships as it did so. Every galactic power was suddenly crippled, and dilithium became scarce. Worse still, because the cause of the Burn is still unknown, it's impossible to say whether the Burn could ever happen again. Every time someone flies a spaceship, they essentially gamble their lives, hoping it will be safe.

Given this context, it's easy to see why galactic civilization has declined; distance, overcome by warp travel and other discoveries, has reasserted itself as a major issue. Long-distance spaceflight will be costly and dangerous, because any ship that malfunctions will be unable to call upon backup, and no doubt some areas of space are frequented by pirates. The galaxy has become one of regional powers rather than galactic ones, and it's a sure bet some of these are pretty dangerous. Ancient rivalries - kept in check by the rise of the Federation - will have been reignited into local wars.

But the USS Discovery is an absolute game-changer. It's important to remember this vessel does not depend upon dilithium to travel great distances, but rather upon the spore drive. Using the spore drive, Discovery can literally hop from one side of the galaxy to the other in a matter of minutes. If resources are needed on a distant planet, Discovery can pick them up and transport them momentarily. If an ally needs support in battle, Discovery can jump out there as soon as it picks up the Mayday signal. Distance is no object where the USS Discovery is concerned. Even better, the crew includes Lieutenant Stamets, the only man in all history who can rightfully describe himself as an expert on spore drive technology. With Stamets' help, other ships can be outfitted with spore drive technology, meaning galactic civilization could be a possibility once again.


The Federation of 3188 is in dire straits. But the USS Discovery is just what it needs to begin getting back on its feet. The crew of the Discovery bring a much-needed morale boost to the Federation, an entire group of committed True Believers who will go to any lengths to restore the Federation. Better yet, they bring with them game-changing technology that means dilithium is no longer as important a factor. With the help of the USS Discovery, the Federation can begin the process of rebuilding itself. It will surely be changed; merchants who have grown rich due to the scarcity of dilithium will object to its becoming comparatively less valuable, while rival powers will surely attempt to steal the spore drive technology for themselves. But should the Federation overcome these challenges, ironically it will become stronger than ever before - the only galactic power in an age where spore drive technology is the only way to safely travel between the stars. No doubt that story will run through Star Trek: Discovery season 3, 4 and beyond.

About The Author