|Owner:||United Federation of Planets|
The SS Tsiolkovsky (NCC-53911) (Cyrillic: К. Э. Циолковский) was a Federation Template:ShipClass science vessel that was in service with Starfleet in the mid-24th century. Tsiolkovsky was built at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, USSR and commissioned in 2363, on stardate 40291.7.
In 2364, the Tsiolkovsky was assigned to observe the collapse of a red giant star. During that mission the crew fell victim to a form of polywater intoxication. After losing contact, Starfleet ordered the USS Enterprise-D to investigate the fate of the vessel and its 80 crew members. The Tsiolkovsky was discovered adrift in space, its bridge open to space due to an open emergency hatch, with all hands lost. When the Enterprise crew became infected with the same virus, and was in danger from a stellar core fragment, they bounced a repulser beam off the Tsiolkovsky, which pushed the Enterprise away from the fragment, providing the necessary time needed to restore power to the engines and warp away. While the Enterprise survived, the Tsiolkovsky was destroyed. (TNG: "The Naked Now")
|USS Biko • USS Cochrane • USS Copernicus • USS Grissom • USS Oberth • USS Pegasus • SS Tsiolkovsky • SS Vico • USS Yosemite • Unnamed|
The SS Tsiolkovsky was named after the 20th century Russian space scientist, Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky. (Star Trek Encyclopedia 2nd ed., p. 527) The dedication plaque listed the name "K.E. Tsiolkovsky", (albeit with some characters misrendered – the plaque actually reads "К. З. ЦИОПКОВСКИЙ", which is "K.Z. TSIOPKOVSKY" in the Cyrillic alphabet), whereas Captain Picard identified it as the SS Tsiolkovsky. This fits modern naval practice of occasionally referring to a ship named after a person by just the surname. A copy of the plaque was sent to the Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics which is located in Tsiolkovsky's home town, Kaluga, Russia. (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine, issue 15, June 1991, p. 34)
This was one of only a handful of Starfleet ships not established to have the prefix "USS" before the name, as "SS" is used instead. While no explanation was tendered in the episode, the plaque identified Tsiolkovsky as a Starfleet registered vessel (with an NCC number), and there was a Starfleet crewmember's corpse aboard. Its possible calling it "SS" instead of "USS" mirrors a current US Navy convention of "de-commissioning" a ship on loan to another (non-Navy) agency, with an identical change of name prefix to "SS", "USNS" or none at all.
The Star Trek Encyclopedia listed this ship as the USS Tsiolkovsky.
The registry number on the studio model was originally not discernible on-screen. However, when a beginning was made in 2012 with TNG-Remastered, it was discovered that the model wore the registry "NCC-640", carried over from its previous use as the USS Copernicus in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Michael Okuda has remarked years later in this respect, "I seem to recall that Grissom may have been relabeled to serve as another ship (the Copernicus?) in Star Trek III or IV. I didn't try to relabel the model for 'The Naked Now,' partly because we realized that the existing registry would not be legible in standard-def video, but also because we were all so insanely busy at the time that no one could take on an additional project that wasn't likely to be seen on the screen."  The number was digitally changed to its correct one in the first full side view establishing shot. Unfortunately, the digital artist overlooked the previous scenes and the later scene when the stellar core fragment smashes into the Tsiolkovsky, as it there still carries the original, now discernible, registry number.