Located beneath the icefields of Andoria, Area 42 is a Star Fleet testing facility for experimental technology. It does not officially exist and does not have an official name. Star Fleet will not acknowledge nor deny its presence, though its existence is surmised by civilian watch groups due to ship activity in the area and the daily private commuter transport that carries civilian workers between the base and a nearby Andorian city.
The facility is housed in a series of large caverns with varying levels of security clearance. It is a fully functional base, with housing, recreation and medical facilities for the 400 officers and enlisted personnel, plus their families, who are assigned there. The more sensitive development and testing areas are restricted to authorized personnel. Both Star Fleet Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and Star Fleet Intelligence (SF:I) have a presence at Area 42.
The majority of the buildings on the base are located within a single large cavern, at the center of which is a small park containing a geothermal spring and greenspace. Area 42 offices and housing are located around the central area, with sensitive facilities placed at its perimeter or in adjoining caverns. An underground shuttle system connects various parts of the base.
A large hanger bay is slightly above and to the west of the main facility. Capable of supporting vessels as large as frigates, the bay is protected from above by forcefields plus manual shielding and hidden by holographic projectors to appear as a chasm in the ice.
Area 42 is powered by geothermal energy, which naturally keeps the base at a constant 18 degrees C (65 degrees F), though near the springs, localized temperatures can rise to 27 degrees C.
Rumors abound about the activities that occur in Area 42, but the vast majority of them are untrue. All base personnel, whether military or civilian, are required to sign a lifetime confidentiality statement, lending to the mythos that has grown up around it. Tales of large cloning laboratories, autopsies of captured interdimenisonal beings, and time travel are among the most popular stories circulated by conspiracy theorists. Several times each year, base security arrests trespassers attempting to get close enough for better observation. Area 42 is one of the most heavily protected Star Fleet facilities currently in operation.
In early 2415, the USS Columbia was assigned to the base.
In early 2416, in the face of a Federation civil war, Area 42 became operationally independent from both SOCOM and SF:I.
In early 2417, in the wake of the Federation civil war, the USS Reciprocity, operating under authority of SOCOM and SF:I, was assigned to Area 42, and assigned Landing Pad 13.