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USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)

USS Enterprise
The USS Enterprise
First appearance "The Cage"
Affiliation United Federation of Planets
Launched 2245
General characteristics
Class Constitution
Registry NCC-1701
Maximum speed Warp 6 (cruising speed)
Warp 7 (maximum safe speed)
Warp 8 (tolerable for brief period)
Warp 9 (at extreme risk)[1]
Auxiliary craft Shuttlecraft
Armaments Torpedo launchers
Phaser banks
Defenses Deflector shields
Propulsion Impulse engines
Warp drive Thrusters
Power Matter/antimatter warp core
Length 289m

The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) is the central starship in the fictional Star Trek universe, depicted in 6 network television series, 12 feature films, and countless books and fan-created media. The original Star Trek series features a voice-over by Enterprise captain, James T. Kirk (William Shatner), which describes the mission of Enterprise as "to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before". The ship's design "formed the basis for one of sci-fi's most iconic images".[2] A refit version of NCC-1701 appears in the first three Star Trek films. The 2009 Star Trek film, which takes place in an alternate timeline,[3] features a re-conceptualization of the original Enterprise. The original (though refitted) starship was destroyed in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.


  • Origin and design 1
    • Television series 1.1
    • 1979 Motion Picture refit 1.2
    • 2009 Star Trek film 1.3
  • Depiction 2
    • 2009 re-imagining 2.1
  • Cultural impact 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Origin and design

Television series

An 11-foot (3.4 m) model donated by Paramount to the Smithsonian in 1974[4]

Star Trek art director Matt Jefferies was the primary designer of the original Enterprise, which was originally named Yorktown in series creator Gene Roddenberry's first outline drafts of the series.[5] Jefferies' experience with aviation led to his Enterprise designs being imbued with what he called "aircraft logic". However, Jefferies years later confessed to have taken some inspiration and artistic license from electric stove coils.[6]

The ship's "NCC-1701" registry number stemmed from "NC" being one of the international aircraft registration codes assigned to the United States; the second "C" was added for differentiation. According to The Making of Star Trek, "NCC" is the Starfleet abbreviation for "Naval Construction Contract", comparable to what the U.S. Navy would call a hull number.[7] The "1701" was chosen to avoid any possible ambiguity; according to Jefferies, the numbers 3, 6, 8, and 9 are "too easily confused".[8] Other sources cite it as a reference to the house across the street from where Roddenberry grew up,[9] while another account gives it as the street address of Linwood Dunn.[10] Jefferies' own sketches provide the explanation that it was his 17th cruiser design with the first serial number of that series: 1701.[11] The Making of Star Trek explains that "USS" should mean "United Space Ship" and that "the Enterprise is a member of the Starship Class".[7]

The first miniature built for the pilot episode "The Cage" (1965) was unlit and approximately 3 feet (0.9 m) long. It was modified during the course of the series to match the changes eventually made to the larger miniature, and appears on-set in "Requiem for Methuselah" (1969). The second miniature built for the original pilot measures 11 feet 2 inches (3.4 m) long and was built by a small crew of model makers (Volmer Jensen, Mel Keys, and Vernon Sion) supervised by Richard Datin, working out of Jensen's model shop in Burbank, California. It was initially filmed by both Howard A. Anderson and Linwood G. Dunn at Dunn's Film Effects of Hollywood facility, who also re-filmed later more-elaborate models of the ship, generating a variety of stock footage that could be used in later episodes.

Initially, the model was static and had no electronics. For the second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (1966), various details were altered, and the starboard window ports and running lights were internally illuminated. When the series was picked up and went into production, the model was altered yet again. These alterations included the addition of translucent domes and blinking lights at the forward ends of the engine nacelles, smaller domes at the stern end of the engine nacelles, a shorter bridge dome, and a smaller deflector/sensor dish. Save for re-used footage from the two pilot episodes, this was the appearance of the ship throughout the series. The 11 feet (3.4 m) model is undergoing restoration,[12] having previously been displayed in the Gift Shop downstairs at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.[13]

Greg Jein created a model of the original Enterprise for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" (1996). Jein's model was built to be exactly half the size of the larger of the two original models, and later appeared in the 1998 Star Trek wall calendar. In addition, a CGI model of the ship makes a brief cameo appearance at the end of the final episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, "These Are the Voyages..." (2005), and another CGI version was created for remastered episodes of the original Star Trek, based on the model in the Smithsonian.

1979 Motion Picture refit

The "refit" Enterprise that appears in the first three Star Trek films was designed by Richard Taylor. Gene Roddenberry, Mike Minor, Joe Jennings, Andrew Probert, Douglas Trumbull, Harold Michaelson, and Jim Dow contributed in part to the final and finished look of the Enterprise..[5][14] The ship was based on conceptual sketches done by Jeffries for the scrapped Star Trek: Phase II TV series. Paul Olsen[15] painted the distinct "Aztec" paint scheme to provide an additional level of detail for the film screen, and to suggest the notion of interlocking panels providing tensile strength to the hull.[16] The 8-foot (2.4 m) model was re-used as the USS Enterprise-A in the fourth, fifth, and sixth Star Trek movies. Foundation Imaging created a CGI model of the ship for the "Director's Edition" release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture to add footage envisaged but never shot by director Robert Wise.

2009 Star Trek film

USS Enterprise
The re-conceptualized USS Enterprise in the 2009 Star Trek film
First appearance Star Trek (2009)
Affiliation United Federation of Planets
Launched 2258
General characteristics
Class Constitution
Registry NCC-1701
Maximum speed Warp 8[17]
Auxiliary craft Shuttlecraft
Armaments Photon torpedoes
Defenses Deflector shields
Propulsion Impulse engines
Warp drive
Power Matter/antimatter
Length 725m[18]

The Enterprise was redesigned for the 2009 Star Trek movie. Director J. J. Abrams wanted the Enterprise to have a "hot rod" look while retaining the traditional shape, but otherwise afforded Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) "tremendous" leeway in creating the ship.[19] Concept artist Ryan Church's initial designs were modeled and refined by set designer Joseph Hiura. This design was then given to ILM for further refinement and developed into photo-realistic models by Alex Jaeger's team.[20] ILM's Roger Guyett recalled the original Enterprise being "very static", and added moving components to the film's model.[19] ILM retained subtle geometric forms and patterns to allude to the original Enterprise.[19] The computer model's digital paint recreates the appearance of "interference paint", which contains small particles of mica to alter the apparent color, used on the first three films' model.[19]


Built between 2243 and 2245 in the Star Trek timeline, Starfleet commissioned the USS Enterprise in 2245.[21] In Star Trek, the ship's dedication plaque lists it as "Starship Class"; later Expanded Universe and episode dialogue in "Relics", a Next Generation episode, establish the vessel as a Constitution-class starship. But according to Stephen Whitfield's The Making of Star Trek, "the Enterprise-class starships have been in existence for about forty years" at the time of the original series. The ship's components were built at the Starfleet Division of the San Francisco Navy Yards and assembled in orbit.[7]

Star Trek: The Animated Series states that Robert April is the Enterprise‍ '​s first commanding officer. After April, Captain Christopher Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) commands the Enterprise for about a decade, and Pike is the commanding officer in the (originally un-aired) pilot "The Cage". Throughout the first Star Trek television series, Captain James T. Kirk commands the ship on a five-year mission of exploration. Before the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), the Enterprise undergoes an 18-month refit overseen by its new commanding officer, Willard Decker (Stephen Collins). In early scenes of the film, Decker describes the refit to Admiral Kirk as "an almost totally new Enterprise". Star Trek novels and the semi-official fan-produced internet series Star Trek: New Voyages (and the abortive planned TV series Star Trek: Phase II) depict a second five year exploratory mission under Kirk's command between the events of the first and second films.

Spock (Leonard Nimoy) commands the Enterprise, serving as a training ship, at the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), but Kirk assumes command when the ship investigates problems with Project Genesis. The USS Reliant, hijacked by Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán), inflicts substantial damage to the Enterprise; Spock sacrifices his life to save the ship. Shortly after returning to spacedock at the beginning of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), the Enterprise is marked for decommissioning. Kirk leads his officers in stealing the ship in an attempt to restore Spock's life. In the process, they are attacked by Klingons inflicting mortal damage on the ship; to even the odds and gain a tactical advantage, Kirk is forced to destroy the Enterprise by activating its self destruct system.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) opens with Kirk and his officers agreeing to return to Earth to face judgment for their actions in the previous film. En route (in the Klingon vessel had they commandeered), they travel back in time to stop a probe threatening to destroy Earth. Upon the success of their mission and return to the 23rd century, the charges against the crew are dismissed. Admiral Kirk is "punished" with a demotion in rank to captain and is given command of the Enterprise's successor, the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A.

2009 re-imagining

In the 2009 film Star Trek, the Enterprise makes its first appearance in an altered timeline while it is still under construction in a planetside yard in Riverside, Iowa in 2255. Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) commands the Enterprise on its maiden voyage in 2258 to respond to a distress call from Vulcan. When Pike is captured, command nominally shifts to Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) and later to James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) when Spock is shown to be emotionally compromised. At the film's conclusion, Kirk is promoted to captain and receives command of the Enterprise, with Spock as first officer. The re-imagined Enterprise appears again in the 2013 sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness.

Cultural impact

  • A write-in campaign led to the first space shuttle being named Enterprise rather than Constitution.[22]
  • Because of the efficiency of its style and layout, the Enterprise‍ '​s bridge design was once considered for use by the United States Navy.[23] More precisely, the layout of task stations caused the Navy to rethink the division of labor for managing rapidly changing information: helmsman focuses on immediate steering requirements, navigator plans helmsman's next actions, captain plans strategy while looking over the shoulders of both. Without visual distraction, the captain is told from behind about engine status, weapons status, and fleet communications.[24]
  • The original series-era Enterprise appears on a commemorative stamp released by the United States Postal Service.
  • Virgin Galactic named its first commercial spaceship the VSS Enterprise in honor of the Star Trek vessel.[25]
  • The Canadian town of Vulcan, Alberta, created a 31-foot model starship inspired by Star Trek‍ '​s Enterprise.[26]
  • The operations aboard the Enterprise have been used as an analogy for practices in human resources management.[27]
  • A website was created proposing a functional spacecraft with a layout like the Enterprise that could be used as a fully functioning interplanetary craft, and could, according to the author, be built with current technology in as little as twenty years.[28]


  1. ^ Star Trek: The Original Series, Season 3, Episode 58: The Paradise Syndrome
  2. ^ "The Enterprise Through The Ages".  
  3. ^ Burr, Ty (2009-05-05). "Star Trek".  
  4. ^ """Model, Starship Enterprise, Television Show, "Star Trek. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b  
  6. ^ Robinson, Ben; Marcus Riley (2011-07-21). Star Trek: U.S.S. Enterprise: Haynes Manual.  
  7. ^ a b c Whitfield, Stephen PE; Roddenberry, Gene (1968). The Making of Star Trek. New York: Ballantine Books.  
  8. ^ "Star Trek". BBC. 
  9. ^ Fine Scale Modeler, May 1998, page 8.
  10. ^ Magid, Ron. "ILM creates new universe of Effects for 'Star Trek Generations'". American Cinematographer, April 1995, p. 78.
  11. ^ "Forgotten Trek Returns". Forgotten Trek. 
  12. ^ "Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise to Boldly Go Back to the Workshop". Retrieved 2014-09-14. 
  13. ^ "Original Starship Enterprise Model from the Star Trek TV Show". Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  14. ^ Tobias, Tracey (December 2001). "Redesigning the USS Enterprise NCC-1701".  
  15. ^ Olsen, Paul (2013). Creating The Enterprise. Bristol, UK: STAR Books. pp. 91,92,93,94.  
  16. ^ Hood, Jamie. "Probing the Ships of Star Trek: the Motion Picture". Round 2 Models. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Official Star Trek Site Updated With Final ‘Dossiers’ + New Info Section + more". 
  18. ^ Jesus Diaz. "How Big Is the New Enterprise Compared to the Old One?". Gizmodo. Gawker Media. 
  19. ^ a b c d "How ILM came up with the new Enterprise for J.J. Abrams' Trek". Sci Fi Wire. 2009-04-17. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  20. ^ Plant, Bob (2009-07-23). "Church of Trek". Round 2 Models. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  21. ^ "Enterprise, U.S.S.". Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  22. ^  
  23. ^ Whitfield, Stephen; Gene Roddenberry (September 1968). The Making of Star Trek. Ballantine Books. 
  24. ^ "LCS 2's Streamlined Design Could Become Fleet's New Standard". 
  25. ^ "Virgin Galactic's Private Spaceship Makes First Crewed Flight".  
  26. ^ "About Vulcan, Alberta's Star Ship FX6-1995-A". Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  27. ^ Effron, Marc; Marshall Goldsmith (2003-04-30). Human resources in the 21st century. John Wiley and Sons. 
  28. ^ "Spaceship Enterprise in 20 years? Beam me up!". Retrieved 2012-05-12. 

External links

Spacecraft named Enterprise
NASA Space Shuttle (1976–1985)Virgin Space Ship (2009–2014)Star Trek starships (Fictional)
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