The mission of the starship USS Discovery could be influenced by another starship: the USS Shenzhou. Even though the Discovery is obviously the titular focus of the upcoming show Star Trek: Discovery, more and more mentions of the Shenzhou point toward this second mystery ship having a huge role in the series, or at the very least, in the first episode.

On Monday, three new actors were officially announced as part of the cast of Star Trek: Discovery. Maulik Pancholy will play Dr. Nambue, Terry Serpico will play Ensign Connor and Sam Vartholomeos will play Admiral Anderson. Of these three new guys, both Dr. Nambue and Ensign Connor are listed as being part of the crew of the starship Shenzhou which is also the ship Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Georgiou will command. But what gives? Who is the Captain of the Discovery and why are all these other Starfleet officers serving on the Shenzhou?

The biggest and most obvious answer is that the Shenzhou will be destroyed in the first episode of Discovery. This would parallel the premiere of the first episode of Star Trek: Voyager in which the USS Voyager and a smaller renegade ship, the Val Jean, were thrown countless lightyears away from their home quadrant to the other side of the galaxy. In all the chaos, the Rebel Maquis crew of the Val Jean had to unite with the Starfleet crew of Voyager to survive. Maybe something similar could happen on Discovery? If the Shenzhou is tasked with tracking down the Discovery, maybe it will be destroyed in the process.

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The USS Voyager with the Val Jean in "Caretaker Part 1"
The USS Voyager with the Val Jean in "Caretaker Part 1"

If the Shenzhou isn’t destroyed right away, there seems like two other possible outcomes: One, the ship is a huge part of the ongoing plot and will play cat and mouse with the renegade Discovery for several episodes of the series.

Or … perhaps somewhat more interesting, the Shenzhou is the Starship Discovery! Because the new show seems to almost certainly have clandestine plot elements, having a Starfleet ship be renamed for a top secret mission isn’t entirely out of the question. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a replacement for the USS Defiant was originally named the USS Sao Paulo. Bones renamed a captured Klingon Bird-of-Prey the HMS Bounty in The Voyage Home, and so on. Star Trek has a tradition of ships being renamed for all sorts of reasons, meaning perhaps there aren’t two ships in the narrative of Discovery, but just one ship with two names.

Here’s everything we know about Star Trek: Discovery.

Photos via Treknews