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While very similar to the design of several Starfleet vessels, most notably the Excelsior-class and Galaxy-class starships, the Arcturus class had several unique features which aided in their mission of far-reaching exploration and diplomacy. The warp nacelles, an improvement on the Galaxy class design, were sleeker and more angular and could propel the starship at speeds of up to warp 9.995 for extended periods.
The most unique feature was the primary hull. The saucer was divided into pie-wedge-shaped sections which could be easily removed and replaced. Each wedge section could be configured to contain laboratories, cargo bays, crew quarters, recreation facilities, weapons and defensive systems or any other equipment the starship may require during its mission, allowing the Arcturus to be configured precisely as needed for its current mission. Also, in case of emergency, each wedge section can be employed as an autonomous lifeboat.
The average crew of an Arcturus included over 1,000 officers and enlisted personnel, up to 500 family members in the years before the Dominion War, and up to 500 additional mission specialists, depending on mission requirements.