The Nova class starships are small science vessels. + The Nova-class is similar in design to Intrepid-class ship, although slightly smaller in size. The Nova has an angular, trowel-shaped saucer section, along two, triangular-shaped warp nacelles attached to the engineering hull by aft-running pylons. The first time this type of ship appeared - in canon - was the USS Equinox, in an episode of Star Trek-Voyager, entitled "Equinox."
Designed for short-term planetary research missions, the first Nova-class ships were placed in service by the mid-to-late 24th century (c. 2370-2), and some version of this ship may still be in use, well in to the 26th century, according to some timelines … (ST-ent: "Azati Prime") The Nova-class ships were designed to be refitted for specific mission objections and an enhanced utilization of warp energy.
The Nova-class was intended for short-term planetary research and analysis, not combat operations. The Nova design has a maximum speed of warp 8 and is designed to handle a crew compliment of approximately eighty officers and staff. One of the Nova class’innovations is the Waverider shuttle*; the Waverider is housed in a special docking port on the primary hull’s ventral side (similar to the Aeroshuttle from the Intrepid-class ships). This class of starship had eight decks.
Unlike most starships, which have unsupported cruise durations of a year or more, the Nova class is designed for short-range cruises of only a few months. Unlike most starship designs, the Nova-class has only one impulse drive, which is located at the aft end of deck 2, and aligned center to the ship.
The saucer-section’s prow contains the auxiliary navigational deflector, lifeboats, sensor platforms, phaser banks/arrays, and photon torpedo launchers. The ship's ventral saucer contains its phaser arrays, a Waverider shuttle, additional sensors, and more lifeboats.
Even though the Novas were primarily science ships, they were still equipped with a wide range of weaponry. Standard armaments included: eleven strategically-placed Type X phaser arrays; eight on the saucer and three on the secondary hull. There are two, forward-facing, photon torpedo launchers (at the bow of the saucer opposite of the secondary deflector), and one aft-facing launcher.
I’d like to point out that the USS Augustine refit is closer to the alternate timeline version seen in the Voyager episode “Endgame.” Specifically, the Augustine has superior tactical firepower and shield strength, as opposed to its predecessors (The Equinox, The Rhode Island, etc.) Improvements and additions to the refit include a Bridge dome, impulse engines combined to one reactor on deck 1 and its auxiliary deflector reduced greatly. Portions of the Bussard collectors are now covered by hull plating and the dorsal intercoolers are increased from one on each warp nacelle to two.
Navigational Deflector / Tactical Shields
Nova-class vessels, like other Starfleet vessels, are equipped with a navigational deflector at the bow of the secondary hull. If the main deflector is damaged or disabled, a secondary deflector on the saucer could perform substitute duty.
Of course, the Nova-class was also equipped with a deflector shield for defensive purposes as well. Shields on a Nova-class could be fully recharged, through the shield emitters, after 45 seconds. Unfortunately, this requires the shields to be dropped for almost a full minute.
The main bridge is located near the center of deck 1: despite the smaller size of the ship, the spacious bridge allows for easy movement between stations. The central command area on the bridge is at the very center of the circular area in a submerged location. The captain's chair is on the starboard side, and the executive officer's is on the port side. Between the two is a console built directly into the bridge architecture that provides a place for information dissemination, and operational command. Directly ahead of the command area and down into a further sunken area, is the conn.
The rest of the stations are located on the perimeter of the bridge, including the master systems display behind the command seats and the main viewscreen in the standard frontwards position. Tactical stations, for example, are not stand-out stations due to the scientific nature of the design. When necessary, Tactical is usually assigned to the forward, port side console just right of the main viewscreen.
Entries to the bridge are located at the port and starboard sides on the upper level. The port door leads to the main turbolift while the starboard door leads to a corridor that accesses other parts of deck 1. Access to the captain's ready room is also located on port side.
The engineering hull houses the main deflector dish, shield emitters, two shuttlebays, and the warp core. The ship’s primary shield grid is located along the secondary hull.
Main engineering is located on deck 7. The Nova-class engineering section only spans one deck, and features four, wall-based engineering consoles and a warp core analysis console in front of the core itself. At the far end of the room is the warp core with a transparent floor and support railing around it. The core spans from decks 5-8 and can be ejected from the bottom of the ship through an ejection hatch. The core can be accessed from either engineering or from the maintenance areas around it.
Science and Sickbay
As science ships, the Nova-class starships are equipped with a number of specially-equipped research labs. These labs feature a number of work consoles for individualized tasks, and one main console in an alcove area.
The Nova-class has one sickbay, located on deck 4, in front of the shuttlebay. Also, the Nova class is one of the first starships built with an Emergency Medical Hologram system, or EMH.
Small craft Info
Behind the main sickbay are two shuttle bays, each containing a single shuttle. In the saucer-section, on deck 4 - a short trip from the shuttle bays - is stored the Waverider auxiliary craft; whose launchbay is directly integrated into the primary hull. Spanning decks 2 and 3 in front of the shuttle bay are the main cargo bays which also contain CMUs, which are used for transportation and repair purposes.
Additionally, like a majority of starships in the 24th century, Nova-classes were equipped with emergency escape pods, twenty in total; fourteen were located on deck 3, four on deck 1 and two on deck 2, all located in the saucer section. They were stored under hatches to permit both launch and retrieval.