USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)

USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) is a starship in the Star Trek media franchise. It is the main setting of the original Star Trek television series (1966–1969) and several Star Trek films, and it has been depicted in various spinoffs, films, books, products, and fan-created media. Under the command of Captain James T. Kirk, the Enterprise carries its crew on a mission "to explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before".

USS Enterprise
Star Trek vehicle
A top and side illustration of a fictional spaceship
An illustration of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701. Top and starboard views.
First appearance"The Man Trap" (1966)
(The Original Series)
Last appearance"The Trouble with Edward" (2019) (Short Treks)
Created byMatt Jefferies
AffiliationUnited Federation of Planets
CaptainRobert April
Christopher Pike
James T. Kirk
Willard Decker
Auxiliary vehiclesShuttlecraft
General characteristics
Photon torpedoes
DefensesDeflector shields
PropulsionImpulse drive
Warp drive
PowerMatter/antimatter reaction
Length288.646 metres (947.00 ft)[2][3]

Matt Jefferies designed the Enterprise for television, and its core design components – a saucer-shaped primary hull, two outset engine nacelles, and a cylindrical secondary hull – have persisted across several television and film redesigns. After the Enterprise's destruction in the third franchise film, that vessel's filming model was redressed and depicted as its successor starship, the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A.

Initially a vision of the potential for human spaceflight, the original Enterprise became a popular culture icon. The vessel's original appearance influenced the design of subsequent franchise spacecraft. The model filmed for Star Trek has been on display for decades at the National Air and Space Museum. The Enterprise has repeatedly been identified as one of the best-designed and most influential science fiction spacecraft.

Development and productionEdit

Concept and initial designEdit

Pato Guzman was the original art director assigned to Star Trek; Matt Jefferies, his assistant, took over when Guzman left the project.[4] Jefferies, who was not a science fiction fan,[5] was the primary designer of the Enterprise and based his work on concepts from series creator Gene Roddenberry.[6] Roddenberry did not have any ideas about what the ship should look like,[7] but he laid out several parameters for the ship:

We're [...] out in deep space, on the equivalent of a cruiser-size spaceship. We don't know what the mode of power is, but I don't want to see any trails of fire. No streaks of smoke, no jet intakes, rocket exhaust, or anything like that [...]. It will be like a deep space exploration vehicle, operating throughout our galaxy.[8]

The first color rendering of the Enterprise design; soon after, Jefferies would realize the design into a small wooden model.[9] Note the prototypical elements used in Enterprise redesigns, other franchise vessels named Enterprise, and numerous other Star Trek spacecraft: a disc-like primary hull, a pair of offset engine nacelles, and a cylindrical secondary hull.

Roddenberry further specified that the Enterprise would operate mainly in space, have a crew of 100–150, and be incredibly fast.[7] Both Jefferies and Roddenberry did not want the Enterprise to look like any of the rocket ships already used by the aerospace industry or in popular culture;[10][11] many of Jefferies' designs were rejected for being "too conventional".[12] To meet Roddenberry's requirement that the ship look believable, Jefferies tried "to visualize what the fourth, fifth or tenth generation of present-day equipment would be like".[13] Jefferies' experience with aviation led to his designs being imbued with what he called "aircraft logic".[14] Jefferies imagined the ship's engines would be too powerful to be near the crew, requiring them to be set apart from the hull.[12] While Jefferies initially rejected a disk-shaped component, worried about the similarities to flying saucers, a spherical module eventually flattened into a saucer.[12][15] During one visit to Jefferies, Roddenberry and NBC staff were drawn to a sketch of the Enterprise resembling its final configuration.[16] Jefferies had created a small model of this design that, when held from a string, hung upside-down – an appearance he had to "unsell".[17] Jefferies kept the hull smooth, with a sense that the ship's components were serviced from inside.[18] Some of Jefferies' rejected design concepts – such as spherical hull sections and warp engines that encircle a ship – inspired the design of future Star Trek vessels.[19]

The Enterprise was originally going to be named Yorktown, but Roddenberry said he was fascinated by the story of the actual Enterprise and that he had "always been proud of that ship and wanted to use the name."[20][21] The ship's NCC-1701 registry stems from NC being one of the international aircraft registration codes assigned to the United States. The second C was added because Soviet aircraft used Cs, and Jefferies believed a venture into space would be a joint operation by the United States and Russia.[22][23] NCC is the Starfleet abbreviation for "Naval Construction Contract", comparable to what the U.S. Navy would call a hull number.[24] Jefferies rejected 3, 6, 8, and 9 as "too easily confused" on screen;[23] he eventually reasoned the Enterprise was the first vessel of Starfleet's 17th starship design, hence 1701.[25] The Making of Star Trek explains that USS means "United Space Ship" and that "Enterprise is a member of the Starship Class".[24] Licensed texts, on-screen graphics and props, and dialogue later describe the ship as a Constitution-class vessel.

Filming modelsEdit

The first miniature built from Jefferies' drawings was a four-inch scale model.[10] Desilu Studios, which was producing Star Trek, hired experienced film and television modelmaker Richard C. Datin to make a pre-production model.[26] Datin used a subcontractor with a large lathe for major subcomponents and otherwise worked on the model for about 110 hours in November 1964.[26] The 33-inch (0.8 m) model was made mostly of pine, with Plexiglass and brass details.[26][27] Datin made minor changes after Roddenberry's review, and he submitted the completed model – which cost about $600 – to Desilu in December 1964.[26]

The 11-foot (3.4 m) filming model used for Star Trek. It appears here in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution, to which Paramount Pictures donated the model in 1974.[28]

Desilu then ordered a larger filming model, which Datin contracted to Volmer Johnson and Production Model Shop in Burbank.[27] Datin supervised the model makers and did detail work on the model,[6] which was constructed from plaster, sheet metal and wood.[29] When completed, it was 11 feet 3.5 inches (3.4 m) long, weighed 125 kilograms (276 lb), and cost $6,000.[6][29] The filming model was delivered too late to be used much for the initial pilot, "The Cage".[30] The 11-foot model was initially filmed by Howard Anderson.[27] When Roddenberry was approved to film the second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before" (1966), various details of the 11-foot model were altered, and the starboard windows and running lights were internally illuminated.[30] When the series went into production, the model was altered yet again,[30] and the model was regularly modified throughout its active filming.[31] Most of the fine details on the large model were not visible to television viewers.[32]

Howard Anderson could not keep up with the filming and special effects needs for regular production, so producers hired several other studios to contribute effects and additional footage.[33] Motion control equipment was too expensive, so the ship was filmed with stop motion.[34] Filming was often delayed by the heat generated by the studio and model's lights.[35] Special effects were produced as cheaply as possible.[27] Most third-season footage of the Enterprise was reused first- or second-season footage.[30] Animators for Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973–75) rotoscoped Enterprise footage to recreate the ship's movements, contributing to the impression of the animated series being a fourth season of the original.[36] The animated medium could not support some of the ship's lighter colors, so the Enterprise was depicted as a consistent gray.[37]

For the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" (1996), Greg Jein created a model exactly half the size of the original 11-foot Enterprise model, and it was the first production model of the starship to be built in more than 30 years.[38][39] A CGI model of the ship makes a cameo appearance at the end of the Star Trek: Enterprise series finale, "These Are the Voyages..." (2005). Artists creating another CGI version of the Enterprise for the remastered television show had to ensure the model was not so detailed that it was incongruous with the overall 1960s production.[40]

Sets, sounds and fixturesEdit

The Enterprise was meant to serve as a familiar, recurring setting, similar to Dodge City in Gunsmoke and Blair General Hospital in Dr. Kildare.[41] Reusing sets also helped address Desilu's budget concerns.[41] As production continued, standing sets like the engine room and bridge became increasingly detailed.[42] The bridge was monochromatic for "The Cage", but it was redecorated for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" because of the increasing popularity of color televisions.[43] Roddenberry described the ship's hallways as "Des Moines Holiday Inn Style".[44] The ship's chairs were manufactured by Burke of Dallas and similar to the original tulip chair designed by Eero Saarinen.[45][46] Full interior deck plans of the Enterprise were designed by Franz Joseph in 1974, with approval from Roddenberry.[47] At Roddenberry's direction, sound effects designer Douglas Grindstaff created different sounds for different parts of the vessel.[48] Console sound effects were often created with a Hammond electric organ or other musical instrument, and engine sounds were created in part with a noisy air conditioner.[48] Although the ship's interior in The Animated Series was largely recreated from the live action series, a second set of turbolift doors was added to the bridge in response to Roddenberry being asked, "What do they do if the doors get stuck?"[49]

The Enterprise bridge was partially recreated for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Relics" (1992). The original set had long been torn down, and producers initially planned to use the film-era set. Ultimately, the engineering console, props and recreations of the captain's chair and navigation console were rented from fans, and the rest filled in with archival footage and greenscreen technology.[50][51] Both the exterior and interiors of the Enterprise were created for the Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" four years later. As with "Relics", the bridge was partially recreated and other parts were added digitally.[52] Mike Okuda used a computer to recreate the graphics seen on the Enterprise sets, and others were drawn by artist Doug Drexler.[38] Set designer Laura Richarz's biggest challenge was finding Burke chairs to populate the ship; she found a single one, and from that the production team made molds to create more.[53]

1970s redesigns for film and televisionEdit

Patent art submitted by Andrew Probert to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a "toy spaceship" in the likeness of the redesigned Enterprise in 1979. Probert was granted the patent in 1981.[54]

Shortly after the animated Star Trek went off the air, pre-production began on Star Trek: Planet of the Titans.[55] Ken Adam and Ralph McQuarrie designed a new Enterprise with a triangular hull that later inspired the appearance of the eponymous ship in Star Trek: Discovery.[55][56] Planet of the Titans was dropped in favor of a return to television with Star Trek: Phase II, for which Jefferies designed a new Enterprise.[57] He began with the original Enterprise design and identified components, such as the engines, that would have been upgraded.[58] Some components, like the sensor dish, would move inside the ship to be more easily serviced.[58] Abandoning Phase II in favor of producing Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) necessitated additional Enterprise redesigns because the film medium would resolve more detail than television.[57] One of the most difficult challenges facing the film producers was recreating the Enterprise for film.[29]

Jefferies left the project, and art director Richard Taylor wanted to start over with designing the Enterprise.[59] However, Roddenberry convinced him to continue working with Jefferies' design.[59] Taylor brought on Andrew Probert to work with him on refining details for the ship.[59] Probert added details such as phaser banks, control thrusters, and hatches for saucer section landing gears; Taylor redesigned the edge of the saucer and elements of the warp nacelles.[60] Art director Joe Jennings and conceptual illustrator Michael Minor added additional details.[59] David Kimble created diagrams and deck plans for the updated Enterprise that were provided to model makers, toy companies, and other manufacturers of licensed products.[61]

The Enterprise (left) in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Though the film series vessel was heavily redesigned from the television model, it nevertheless retains the same basic modules. In designing the Reliant (right), Joe Jennings and Mike Minor rearranged familiar components, such as the engine nacelles and saucer section, to establish its connection to the Star Trek universe yet distinguish it from the Enterprise.[62]

Jim Dow was in charge of building the model and creating the molds and structural processes.[63][64] Paramount Pictures subsidiary Magicam spent 14 months and $150,000 to build the 8-foot (2.4 m), 39-kilogram (86 lb) model.[29] An arc-welded aluminum skeleton ensured parts of the ship would not sag, bend, or shake when moved.[65] While the original Enterprise model was seen in only 17 poses, the new model had five points of articulation and could be shot from any angle.[29] Paul Olsen painted the distinct "Aztec" scheme to provide an additional level of detail for the film screen and to suggest the presence of interlocking panels providing strength to the hull.[66][67] The effect is made possible by small particles of mica in the paint, which alters its apparent color.[68] However, the light flare created by the paint caused filming issues that made it hard to discern the edge of the ship against a dark background, and bluescreen reflected by the pearlescent paint complicated filming.[29][69] Additionally, Trumbull and John Dykstra had problems with the Magicam model; Trumbull relit the ship as if it were an ocean liner, "a grand lady of the seas at night".[70] A 20-inch (51 cm) model was used for long shots.[65]

Production designer Harold Michelson was responsible for the ship's interior design,[71] though director Robert Wise was responsible for the ship's drab interior color scheme.[72] A new bridge had been designed and partially built for Phase II, and Michelson largely retained the design and its consoles. Rear projection films for bridge displays came initially from Stowmar Enterprises of Arlington, Virginia. When production exhausted the films faster than Stowmar could supply them, production designers manufactured their own from oscilloscopes, medical imagery, and an experimental computer lab. Corridors were initially a straight-wall design similar to the television series; Michelson changed them to an angular design with light radiating upward. Set designer Lewis Splittgerber described the engine room set as the most difficult to realize. Through forced perspective and small actors, the 40-foot (12 m) set was depicted as a 100-foot (30 m) engineering space.[73]

The model was refurbished slightly for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), with its exterior shine dulled and extra detail added to the frame.[74] Industrial Light & Magic's (ILM) special effects team developed techniques to depict damage to the Enterprise without physically harming the model.[75] ILM staff found the Enterprise difficult to work with: it took eight people to mount the model and a forklift to move it.[74] For interior shots, the Enterprise was given a ship's bell, boatswain's call,[75] and more blinking lights and signage to match the nautical atmosphere director Nicholas Meyer was trying to convey.[76][77] David Kimble's deck plans from The Motion Picture influenced how previously unseen interior arrangements (such as the torpedo bay) were depicted in The Wrath of Khan.[61]

Producer Harve Bennett decided to destroy the Enterprise in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) in response to the film's otherwise predictable plot.

Recognizing the plot of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) was otherwise predictable, producer Harve Bennett decided to have the Enterprise destroyed.[78] Though he meant for the event to be kept secret, news leaked.[78][79] Visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston hated the Enterprise model and reveled in its destruction.[10] Rather than damaging the large and expensive original model, several less expensive miniatures and modules were created and destroyed.[10] One of the destroyed models had been created by Brick Price Movie Miniatures for Star Trek Phase II.[80] A new ship designed for the film, the USS Excelsior, was meant to make the Enterprise "look old and out of date".[81] Model maker Bill George tried to imagine what the Enterprise would look like if it were designed by the Japanese, and he used that impression as the basis for his refinement of the Excelsior model.[81]

Ralston had hoped the Enterprise's destruction in The Search for Spock would open the door to designing a new model for future films.[82] However, producers for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) decided to have the crew return to a duplicate of their previous ship.[82] Although a new model was not created, it took ILM more than six weeks to restore and repaint the ship to appear as the new USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A.[82] When production began on Star Trek: The Next Generation, several sets – including the main bridge – created for the film franchise Enterprise were redressed for the new television series.[83] Although its original pearlescent paint job had been covered and the ship redressed as the Enterprise-A, the original eight-foot film franchise model was used as a referent for the CGI Enterprise created for the 2001 director's cut of The Motion Picture.[69] The director's cut replaced several bridge computer voices with human voices to "warm up" the film.[69]

2009 film franchise rebootEdit

The re-conceptualized USS Enterprise as it appears in the 2009 Star Trek film. This "alternate universe" ship retains the same core design as Matt Jefferies' original and includes elements from the previous films, such as the "Aztec" paint scheme. The enlarged engine nacelles emphasize director J. J. Abrams's desire for the Enterprise to feel like a "hot rod".

The Enterprise was redesigned for the 2009 Star Trek film. Previsualization lead David Dozoretz credit the designers for overcoming the challenge of doing "a 2009 version of the '60s".[84] Director J. J. Abrams wanted Enterprise to have a "hot rod" look while retaining the traditional shape, but otherwise afforded ILM "tremendous" leeway in creating the ship. According to production designer Scott Chambliss, the designers wanted the Enterprise to appear as carefully crafted as a luxury car.[85] Concept artist Ryan Church retained much of the original Enterprise design and focused on the functionality behind the familiar components.[84] His 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.[86] ILM's Roger Guyett, recalling the original Enterprise as being "very static", added moving components.[68] ILM retained subtle geometric forms and patterns to allude to the original Enterprise, and the model's digital paint recreated the appearance of the "Aztec" hull pattern from the first films.[68] Perhaps the most notable change was in the large engine nacelles, presenting a sleeker finish and shape to the otherwise simple nacelles of the previous ship.[68] Sean Hargreaves' redesign of the successor NCC-1701-A "beef[ed] up" the vessel's support pylons, which are depicted as vulnerabilities in Star Trek Beyond (2016).[87]

According to Abrams, recreating the original bridge would have been ridiculous and too small.[88] His enthusiasm for a new iPhone influenced Church's redesign for the bridge.[89] Sophisticated technology became a motif on the new set, with multiple displays and computer graphics.[90] The main viewscreen from the television series was kept, and giving different characters their own computer displays suggested the idea of a team working together.[90] Because the original series transport room seemed flat to Abrams, he used swirling light and a moving camera to make the redesigned set and effects more dynamic.[91] Because the budget prevented the creation of a huge, functional engineering room set, producers instead filmed in various portions of a Budweiser plant.[92] Ben Burtt consulted with original series sound designed Douglas Grindstaff on sound design for the new Enterprise.[48]

Return to television in Star Trek: DiscoveryEdit

John Eaves, Scott Schneider, and William Budge redesigned the original Enterprise for Star Trek: Discovery (2017–present).[93] The designers had an unusually long time to work on the ship: April to October 2017, whereas they usually had only a few weeks to design a ship.[94] Other than a few small notes, the designers were given no explicit direction about the ship's appearance; Schneider called the redesign project the trio's "golden hour".[95]

They briefly considered but quickly decided against an appearance significantly different than Jefferies' original design.[95] Eaves created 10 relatively similar sketches that streamlined the original Enterprise to appear more consistent with the sleek Discovery aesthetic; they selected one of the sketches to refine further.[96] They developed the vessel with the assumption that components like the warp nacelles and impulse engines would be replaced over time; the modules for the Enterprise's appearance in Discovery are meant to appear more primitive than what is depicted in Star Trek.[96] The designers tried to incorporate elements from other ships that precede and succeed the Enterprise, such as the 21st-century Phoenix in Star Trek: First Contact (1996), the 22nd-century NX-01 Enterprise from Star Trek: Enterprise (2001–2005), and the successor USS Enterprise-B from Star Trek Generations (1994).[97] They also included elements from the Enterprise refit for The Motion Picture.[98] One distinct challenge was the hull: Jefferies' design featured a smooth hull, but the lack of features would appear too simple on modern high-definition displays.[99] The designers added details, such as phaser banks and control thrusters, that "must have been there" on the original Enterprise but were not depicted on the Star Trek models.[100] The ship's scale also fluctuated, which meant the designers had to adjust the window sizes and patterns.[101]

Budge kept the designers in check with ensuring details and features added to the Enterprise were consistent with the design of other ships on Discovery.[98] One such feature was whether the bridge would have a window: most Discovery ship bridges have a front-facing window, but the Enterprise had never been depicted like that.[102] The solution was to depict the Enterprise bridge as having a large piece of transparent aluminum at its front that can become either transparent or opaque as needed.[103] Eaves sent the design team's model to the visual effects team, which made further design changes.[104] Discovery producer Gretchen J. Berg said she hoped fans see the appearance of the Enterprise in Discovery as a blending of old and new Star Trek.[105] Another Discovery producer, Aaron Harberts wasn't worried whether fans were satisfied with the ship's redesign; while many of the staff who developed the new appearance are Star Trek fans, Harberts stated fans rarely agree on anything.[105]

The Enterprise bridge appears in the second season's finale. Production designer Tamara Deverell and her team wanted to honor the original bridge but needed to create the set using modern techniques and to meet modern audience expectations. The production's widescreen format, as opposed to the original series' 4:3 aspect ratio, required the set design to be more "stretched out" horizontally; designers referenced Star Trek film bridges – also recorded in widescreen – to assist with designing for the different ratio. Ultimately, the bridge was a fully constructed set, save for greenscreen for the main viewer. The set maintained the original's layout and included references and details from Star Trek, such as Sulu's and Spock's console scanners, red bridge railings, and turbolift handles. They also created new elements, such as a corridor running behind the bridge. According to Deverell, choosing the set's color palette was the hardest part of designing the bridge. The bridge chairs were nearly identical to those used in Star Trek, and the new captain's chair was heavily influenced by Captain Kirk's original.[106]


Starfleet commissioned the Enterprise in 2245.[1] Robert April is the Enterprise's first captain, succeeded by Christopher Pike.[1] Pike leads the Enterprise for about a decade, and he is the commanding officer in the original pilot "The Cage" and in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery. Throughout the first live action and animated Star Trek television series, Captain James T. Kirk commands the ship on an exploration mission from 2264 to 2269.[1] Star Trek: The Motion Picture takes place in the 2270's as the Enterprise is completing an 18-month refit overseen by its new captain, Willard Decker. Decker describes the refit vessel as "an almost totally new Enterprise" when Admiral Kirk takes command of the ship to address a threat to Earth. Star Trek novels and other media depict a second five-year mission under Kirk's command between the events of the first and second films.

Captain Spock commands the Enterprise, serving as a training ship, at the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan around 2285.[1] Kirk assumes command to investigate problems at space station Regula 1. The USS Reliant, hijacked by Khan Noonien Singh, inflicts substantial damage to the Enterprise; Spock sacrifices his life to save the ship. Starfleet marks the Enterprise for decommissioning due to its damage and age at the beginning of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Kirk and his senior officers steal the ship as part of their plan to restore Spock's life. During their mission, a Klingon attack disables the ship. Kirk lures most of the Klingons onto the crippled Enterprise, which he and his officers set to self-destruct before abandoning ship. When Kirk and his officers return to Earth, Kirk is demoted to captain and given command of a new identical starship USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A. The Enterprise-A is ordered decommissioned at the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Reboot film seriesEdit

The 2009 reboot film, Star Trek, and its sequels occur in a different timeline than the original Star Trek. The Enterprise makes its first appearance while under construction in Riverside, Iowa, in 2255. Captain Christopher Pike commands Enterprise on its maiden voyage in 2258 to respond to a distress call from Vulcan. At the film's conclusion, James Kirk is promoted to captain and receives command of the Enterprise. The vessel is destroyed in Star Trek Beyond and a new Enterprise, NCC-1701-A, is commissioned under Kirk's command.

Critical reactionEdit

Writing in the Journal of Popular Film & Television, National Air and Space Museum curator Margaret Weitekamp pointed to two distinct celebrity Enterprises: the fictional starship Enterprise as a character or icon of popular culture, and the actual physical object (i.e., the models used for filming) as an iconic design.[107] According to Weitekamp, "The two Enterprises overlap, and are clearly related, but they do not map completely onto each other," and unpacking distinctions between them contributes to scholarly analysis of popular and material culture and of "this significant television artifact".[107]

The Enterprise as a characterEdit

According to film critic Scott Jordan Harris, although the contemporaneous Apollo program prompted intellectual awareness of the possibilities of space travel, it was the Enterprise of the 1960s that sparked space travel fantasies.[108]

Like other Star Trek ships with the same name, the original Enterprise is often considered "a character in its own right".[18] The New York Times called it "a joy" to see the original Enterprise again, as redesigned for Discovery's second-season premiere.[109] Harris described the Enterprise as the franchise's most important character, pointing out:

Crucially, the famous words that begin each episode of the TV show, and that recur in the films, are not "These are the voyages of Captain Kirk..." or "These are the voyages of Starfleet..." They are "These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise..."[108]

The ship's destruction in The Search for Spock, like the death of a character, has been described as "truly iconic" and "a good way to go",[110][111] though David Gerrold wrote that the ship's destruction "casts a pall" over the film that even Spock's resurrection does not displace.[112] David C. Fein, who produced the director's cut of The Motion Picture, described the Enterprise as Kirk's lover, and destroying the ship meant Kirk "killed the woman that he loves more than any existing being in the world."[69] Popular Mechanics ranked the scene depicting the ship's destruction the 32nd greatest scene in science fiction.[113] In a 2010 retrospective of the Star Trek films, author Jill Sherwin suggested that the aging Enterprise in The Search for Spock served as a metaphor for the aging Star Trek franchise.[114]


When it first appeared on television, the Enterprise was called an "elegant and weird looking behemoth".[18] Since that time, the Enterprise's design, which influenced all future Federation starships in the franchise, has been deemed iconic.[115][116] The ship's interiors have also been considered iconic examples of 1960s design.[46]

Harris, in a book describing evocative objects in film history, included the Enterprise as one of the 50 most significant objects ever to appear in film, alongside the ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz, the Maschinenmensch in Metropolis, and the Batmobile in Batman Begins.[108] Design expert Jonathan Glancey described the "convincing and exciting" Enterprise as having the same aesthetic appeal as the Concorde jet, B-17 bomber, and Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner.[117]

Time called the ship's redesign for The Motion Picture "bold" and "handsome".[118] Conversely, in its review of Star Trek II, The Washington Post wrote that the Enterprise looked "like a toy boat in a lava lamp".[119] Entertainment Weekly, focusing on the ship's internal technical details rather than its outward appearance, wrote that after being depicted as a complicated vessel requiring detailed care in The Wrath of Khan, it seemed "a bit loony" for the Enterprise to be operable by just a handful of officers in The Search for Spock.[120]

Popular Mechanics, in a 2016 celebration of the original series' 50th anniversary, called the design of the original Enterprise the best version of the various ships named Enterprise that had appeared in the Star Trek franchise.[121] In 2018, Gizmodo's io9 blog also ranked the original design of the ship as the best version of the Enterprise, characterizing the original as superior to ten later versions of its namesake, and ranked the refit of the film refit as the franchise's second best.[115] Conversely, a 2019 review in Syfy Wire ranked the refit design of the Enterprise-A as the franchise's best, and ranked the original design as the fourth best version of the starship out of eight that were considered.[122]

Cultural impactEdit

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, the Star Trek cast (with the exception of William Shatner), and NASA administrators attended the Space Shuttle Enterprise's rollout ceremony. A letter-writing campaign convinced NASA to name the shuttle Enterprise in honor of the television vessel.
The visitor's center in Vulcan, Alberta, has a replica starship designed like the Enterprise.

The starship Enterprise has had considerable cultural impact,[123] and the original ship's model is "a living cultural object".[124] Bjo Trimble said producers of the original Star Trek received more fan letters about the Enterprise than any of the actors.[112] A write-in campaign in 1976 led to the first Space Shuttle being named Enterprise rather than Constitution.[125] In 2009, Virgin Galactic named its first commercial spaceship VSS Enterprise to honor the Star Trek vessel.[126] Build the Enterprise is a website that proposes creating a functional spacecraft with a hull similar to the Enterprise.[127][128] The United States Navy evaluated the efficiency of the Enterprise bridge's style and layout,[129] and the bridge of the USS Independence and the Ship's Mission Center of the USS Zumwalt have been compared to the Enterprise's bridge.[130][131] An exacting replica of the Enterprise bridge created for a Star Trek fan series was later opened as a public exhibit.[132] The distinct beeps emitted by R2-D2 in Star Wars are "an offspring" of the melodic sounds created for the Enterprise's bridge console.[48]

Paramount Pictures donated the original 11-foot (3.4 m) filming model to the Smithsonian Institution in 1974, disassembled across three crates and dirty.[6][30][124] In shipping the model, Paramount estimated the value of the model at $5,000.[133] Starting in 1976, it hung at an exhibit gallery entrance at the National Air and Space Museum before being moved to the gift shop, where it stayed for 14 years.[107] In the first of its initial restorations, the model was altered to look more like the starship Enterprise and less like a studio filming model.[134] The model underwent restorations in 1974, 1984, 1992, and 2016.[135] For much of its time on display, fans have often been surprised at the differences between the actual physical model and their expectations about how the "real" spacecraft should appear.[31] A substantial, multi-year restoration culminated in 2016 with the unveiling of a new display in the Milestones of Flight Hall.[6][136] This most recent restoration highlighted the duality of the Enterprise as both a filming model and inspirational starship.[137]

In 2006, Paul Allen bought the Enterprise model created for the original Star Trek films for $240,000, and it is on display at the Museum of Pop Culture.[29] Another model of the original film version is on display at aerospace company Blue Origin.[138] The original ship's captain's chair sold at auction for $304,750.[139] Vulcan, Alberta, created a 31-foot (9.4 m) model starship inspired by the Enterprise.[140]

The Enterprise design has been licensed for use in variety of games, models, and toys. Ballantine Books released a set of 12 Enterprise interior and exterior blueprints in April 1975, and by December 1976 they were in their seventh printing.[141] The first run of a cutaway drawing of the Enterprise for The Motion Picture sold over one million prints.[61] In 2010, Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books published a Haynes Manual for "owners" of the USS Enterprise.[142] The United States Postal Service has released several USS Enterprise stamps.[143] AMT's 1966 Enterprise model is one of the company's highest-selling kits.[144] Pulitzer Prize–winning editorial cartoonist Mike Luckovich has used the Enterprise as the setting for two of his illustrations for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.[145][146]



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Enterprise, U.S.S." Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  2. ^ Franz Joseph Designs (1975). Star Trek Blueprints: General Plans, Constitution Class, U.S.S. Enterprise (2nd ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 4. Archived from the original on 2006-12-06.
  3. ^ Robinson & Riley 2010, p. 37.
  4. ^ Reeves-Stevens 1995, p. 29.
  5. ^ Robinson & Riley 2018, p. 8.
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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit