Extra-galactic Ancient exploratory vessel launched from Earth several hundreds of thousands of years ago, prior to when many Ancients began to focus on ascension. The ship became home to a reluctant crew from Earth after they discovered how to access it using the Stargate's ninth chevron.
Destiny (translated from its Ancient name) was designed to be a follow-up craft to numerous seeder ships which preceded it in the universe. These automated ships were sent out to gather data, resources, manufacture Stargates and deposit them on habitable worlds. Thus there may be hundreds to thousands of isolated Stargate networks in the universe.
Destiny possesses knowledge on the composition and resources of these worlds to aid the crew in retrieving the necessary supplies. All that is necessary are the proper queries to the database.
The ship appears to be the reason the Ancients built Stargates with nine chevrons. According to what is presently known, only one nine-glyph combination is capable of connecting to the ship (like a telephone number). This makes sense, as the Destiny is always traveling through the universe and cannot be pinpointed by an address designed to seek out a specific point in three-dimensional space.
When the ship recognizes it is being contacted, Destiny drops out of its faster-than-light propulsion to allow the wormhole to connect.
The ship possesses at least two shuttles for short-range missions, but one is severely damaged. When stopping in range of a Stargate network the ship allots a specific number of hours to investigate the worlds in range.
Converted solar energy powers Destiny's systems. When low on fuel, the ship drops out of F.T.L. and pilots itself into a star, where energy collectors absorb the radiation. Despite this efficiency in design, Destiny is long past her expected operating lifespan, and her energy retention capacity is down to approximately 40 percent. This is believed to be insufficient for dialing a wormhole back to Earth.
Nicholas Rush risked the lives of more than 80 officers and visitors of Icarus Base to connect to the Destiny rather than return to Earth. Eventually he discovered the nature of the ship's original mission: the Ancients planned to use the ship to uncover the mystery of a pattern hidden in the universe's cosmic background radiation, possibly indicating a higher intelligence that predates the universe as we know it.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Artist James C.D. Robbins produced numerous sketches for the Destiny until Brad Wright gave him specific direction, scribbling the slightly modified shape of a chevron on a napkin. (The napkin can be seen in the bonus features on the SGU Volume One DVD set.)
Air, Part 1 - In the midst of a sneak attack, Dr. Rush dials the Destiny rather than Earth, forcing more than 80 people to the Ancient ship.
Air, Part 2 - Lt. Scott divides teams to search the ship for supplies and dangers.
Air, Part 3 - Destiny stops in range of a planet which Dr. Rush believes may have exactly what they need.
Darkness - The ship is drained of all its power and reserves, and slingshots around a blue dwarf -- headed straight for a collision with a star.
Light - Destiny dips into a star to recharge her power systems.
Water - Despite Destiny's recent recharge, Eli Wallace estimates that the old ship can only retain 40 percent of its original reserve capacity.
Earth - The crew activates the ship's weapons systems to deliberately drain power, forcing Destiny to again enter a star to recharge.
Divided - A group of aliens lay siege to the ship, hoping to drain the shields and gain access before she jumps to F.T.L.
Sabotage - The crew learns that the ship nearly didn't make it across the void between galaxies the last few times it made the trip, and must increase the F.T.L. drive's efficiency to cross the void this time.
Aftermath - Dr. Rush accesses the ship's bridge for the first time, gaining control over where and when the ship exits F.T.L. -- but not over the countdown clock.
Trial and Error - Destiny herself gets inside Colonel Young's head to test his leadership ability, presenting him with a no-win battle scenario that runs on a continuous loop.
The Greater Good - Rush is forced to confess what he has learned about Destiny's true mission: the Ancients launched it in order to discover the origins of the universe's cosmic background radiation.
Twin Destinies - After a time dilation creates a duplicate Destiny the crew recover spare parts from the ship before it falls into a star and is destroyed.
Gauntlet - Low on power and with no way to avoid the drone ship onslaught, the crew goes into long-term stasis as Destiny prepares for a long trip across the expanse between galaxies.