The Luna-class is Starfleet’s newest-generation long-range explorer, a starship not built specifically for combat, but like the Constitution-class of the previous century, a vessel designed for a long-term multipurpose mission into uncharted space. Equipped with conventional tactical systems (deflector shields; phasers; quantum torpedoes), Luna also boasts state-of-the-art propulsion and cutting-edge scientific equipment, as well as being a testbed for experimental science tech not yet available on other classes.
The Luna-Class Development Project was initiated in 2369 in response to the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole, and originally conceived as leading a planned Starfleet wave of deep-space exploration in the Gamma Quadrant. The project was spearheaded by Dr. (Commander) Xin Ra-Havreii, a Starfleet theoretical engineer at Utopia Planitia. Field testing on the prototype USS Luna was under way by 2372 in the Alpha Quadrant, and construction of the fleet was scheduled to begin the following year. Unfortunately, contact with the Dominion and the subsequent outbreak of hostilities mothballed the project indefinitely, as Starfleet redirected its shipbuilding resources to the production of vessels better suited to combat.
Upon the war’s end in late 2375, Dr. Ra-Havreii correctly judged that the Federation’s cultural psychology would eventually shift back toward its pre-war ideals, and pushed to have the Luna-class revisited as a major step toward resuming Starfleet’s mission of peaceful exploration (even though the class would no longer be assigned exclusively to the exploration of the Gamma Quadrant). Construction of an initial fleet of twelve Luna-class vessels was completed by 2379, and the Titan was offered to William T. Riker, one of many command officers eager to put the strife of the last decade behind him.