Star Trek Discovery U.S.S. DISCOVERY NCC-1031 Licensed FanSets MicroFleet Collector’s Pin
Discovery was launched into service from the San Francisco Fleet Yards, Earth. By November 2256, it was still considered impressively new, fresh out of the shipyards, and equipped with some of Starfleet's most advanced technologies (in contrast with the relatively old USS Shenzhou).
As a Crossfield-class starship, Discovery was officially designated a science vessel, though it was capable of defending itself. The ship's facilities were capable of accommodating three hundred discrete scientific missions, a Starfleet record.
Due to the outbreak of the Federation-Klingon War of 2256, a vessel as new as Discovery would normally have been pressed into service on the front lines, even though it would have a relatively small impact compared to other, more combat-oriented vessels. Instead, Discovery was placed under the command of Captain Lorca and given a clandestine mission to conduct black ops scientific research, developing top-secret weapons and technologies that would help the Federation win the war. Several of these experiments had the potential to physically endanger the ship itself and its crew: hazardous situations caused by the black ops experiments being activated were addressed by declaring a "Black alert" (which was not a standard protocol on Starfleet vessels). Both Discovery and its sister ship, the USS Glenn, were equipped with an experimental spore drive for field testing. Much research and refinement remained to be done as of late 2256, but if perfected it had the potential to instantly traverse vast galactic distances in the blink of an eye. Discovery only used it in short bursts while attempting to perfect it into a reliable drive system, however: in contrast, the crew of Glenn took bolder risks to develop it more quickly, resulting in an accident which killed the entire crew and crippled the ship.
Discovery was actually built from the ground up to be a testbed for the experimental spore drive, based on the research of Paul Stamets and his colleagues. Stamets had intended his research to pursue purely theoretical knowledge and peaceful applications, but with the outbreak of war, Discovery was rapidly constructed to perfect the military applications of his research.