The Interstellar Wars period wasn't just about war. The Terrans didn't want to just take systems from the Imperium, they wanted to make their own discoveries and possibly make new allies outside the Imperium. To achieve this they needed survey-ships.
At first they produced large ships such as the Zheng-He as fully specified survey vessels that could comfortably fulfil all the mission parameters. Later as the sphere of influence grew and their borders grew exponentially they realised that fully surveying every system was not practical. The Zheng He also could only visit systems where small Gas Giants were detected as therwise it could not be sure of getting fuel to jump out again. The Zheng-He's were also being lost in large numbers. The design and logistics of operating the craft were considered by many to be too complex. A different approach was necessary.
The Terran's realised they needed more, cheaper and simpler ships if they were going to make even a scratch on the available systems. They also needed one that could make two consecutive jump-2s to be able to ensure a safe return from new systems. They reviewed what had worked, what hadn't, what was missing and what they could do without and commisioned a new ship design.
A survey scout must be able to operate autonomously for long periods, be self-sufficient, flexible and resilient. It must be capable of system survey from space and ground planetary survey. It must be capable of analysing any native life, biochemistry and mineral deposits. Most importantly of all it must be able too act as an emissary to any new cultures and be able to observe new cultures unobtrusively.
Almost immediately it was suggested that the Phiddipides would make a suitable starting point for the design. It was tried and tested and had a good operating record. Importantly it already had the extended jump-range required and with an airframe hull could fulfill multiple roles and require less subcraft. To make it suitable for long range survey missions they needed to find some space for a survey suite, laboratories and subcraft. Fortunately the base design already had a reasonable sized hold and an oversized engineering section. Using the same base hull meant that a prototype craft could be ready in months rather than years.
A smaller manouver drive and reactor were installed and the sensors upgraded. Most of the hold was converted into 2 vehicle bays for small subcraft. A full survey module, two laboratories, a sickbay and a workshop were installed. Two light turrets were fitted to give some defensive capability. This still left a generous cargo hold size for spares and samples. Accommodation was very generous by Terran standards. As the core ship crew is usually six plus four scientists everyone has their own stateroom.
Due to the limited subcraft space available two tiny 5-ton stealth shuttles are carried as subcraft. These are each capable of putting a team of six down on a world and can act as a temporary base of operations. Their small size and stealth means they are also useful for covert operation missions on inhabited worlds.
Hull: 200-ton Needle/Wedge Airframe Hull, dDR 10 armor, Stealth
Systems: 10 Maneuver Drive, 6 Jump Drive, 80 Fuel Tank, 4 Fuel Processors (6.3 hours to fill tank), Standard Bridge, Model-6 Sensors (Scan 21), 13.5 Fusion Power (270 MW), 10 Staterooms, Sickbay, 12.5 Cargo, 1 Workshop, 2 Laboratories, 1 Survey Module, 2 Light Turrets (beam laser, missile rack, sand-caster), 2 five-ton capacity vehicle bays (5-ton Shard-class stealth shuttle).
Statistics: Emass 470, Lmass 680, Cost M$ 170, SM 8, ASig 2, Hull dHP 39, Life Support 20 (+12 in shuttles), sAccel 3.0 G (4.3G empty), Jump-2 (4 parsec range), Top Air Speed 3300 mph
Crew 6-9 core + 4 specialists: Captain, Pilot x 2, Navigator, Engineer, Sensor operator, Gunner/Medic, 4 scientists. Typically the captain is also the second pilot and a single gunner/medic/steward is carried (both turrets are slaved to a single control station). Multiple overlapping skill sets are mandatory. Scientists with shipboard skills, preferably ex-military are routinely chosen.