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First Flight (episode)

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"First Flight"
ENT, Episode 2x24
Production number: 050
First aired: 14 May 2003
49th of 97 produced in ENT
49th of 97 released in ENT
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 97 released in ENT Remastered  
678th of 728 released in all
NX alpha
Written By
John Shiban & Chris Black

Directed By
LeVar Burton
Unknown (2153/2143/October, 2150)
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When he is told of the death of an old rival, Archer reflects on his days in the NX test program.


The Enterprise detects a nebula of what they believe to be dark matter. But Captain Archer's excitement at discovering the nebula is dampened when Admiral Forrest contacts him and informs him that an old comrade, A.G. Robinson, had died in a mountaineering accident.

After Trip Tucker loads six spatial charges onto a shuttlepod to excite the dark matter, Archer and T'Pol take the shuttlepod out to the nebula. After departure, T'Pol inquires about Robinson. Archer begins to tell her of when they had served in Starfleet together.


Commander Jonathan Archer meets with Commodore Forrest and proudly announces that he achieved a 92% efficiency in the warp reactor simulation. But he is disappointed when Forrest tells him that Robinson had been selected to pilot the NX-Alpha. That night, he has a drink with Robinson and several other pilots at the 602 Club. Taking him aside, Robinson tells Archer that he did not get the assignment because he is too by-the-book.

Flight director station, NX Control

Jonathan Archer supervising the flight of the NX-Alpha in 2143

Two weeks later, however, Robinson easily breaks the warp 2 barrier. But when he ignores orders to drop to impulse, he accelerates and the ship explodes shortly after reaching warp 2.2. Robinson, fortunately, survived by jettisoning an escape pod while at warp.

The Vulcans immediately claim that this proves that Humans are progressing in warp technology too quickly, and that the warp program will have to be postponed and the warp engine built from scratch. Archer expresses outrage at the idea, and he is joined by Charles Tucker, an engineer working on the NX Program.

Later in the 602 Club, Archer and his new friend Trip Tucker agree that it isn't the engine at fault, but rather the intermix ratio. Further adding to Archer's anger is that Robinson admits that he faced the Vulcans and blamed the destruction of the NX-Alpha on Henry Archer's warp engine design. Archer and Robinson get into a fight which is shortly broken up.

Later, Archer discovers Robinson in the locker room packing, and convinces him that if they could get the intermix right, the ship would achieve stable warp flight. Robinson suggest that they test the theory by stealing the NX-Beta. Archer reluctantly agrees.

With the assistance of Tucker on the ground, Archer and Robinson launch the NX-Beta and enter warp. As Starfleet Security realizes that the ship has been stolen, the NX-Beta encounters similar problems that destroyed the NX-Alpha. However, just as security moves in on Tucker, Archer proudly announces that they are maintaining a steady warp 2.5, thus proving the engine design works.


Archer tells T'Pol that the Vulcans grounded the warp ships until every possible simulation could be run. After a year, however, they admitted that the engine was sound after all.

They launch the final two charges, the previous four having failed, and are rewarded with a nebula appearing before their eyes.

Back on Enterprise, T'Pol makes the suggestion to Archer that the dark matter cloud be named the Robinson Nebula, after A.G. Robinson.

This episode or film summary is incomplete

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Memorable quotes

"All the close calls he had flying warp trials and he gets himself killed climbing Mount McKinley."

- Archer on A.G. Robinson's death

"There were just a few of us; Gardner, Duvall, A.G. and me. We all wanted the first flight."

- Archer reminiscing to T'Pol about the NX test program

"You remember what Buzz Aldrin said when he stepped onto the moon?"
"Nobody does. Because Armstrong went first."

- Archer and Ruby

"You mean that?"
"Of course not. I'm waiting for Forrest to realize what a horrible mistake he made."

- Archer and Robinson

"When the first warp five starship is built, its captain won't be able to call home every time he needs to make a decision. He won't be able to turn to the Vulcans. Unless he decides to take one with him."

- A.G. Robinson, to Archer

"Don't worry, you'll get out there some day. If I had my own ship, I'd sign you up in a second."
"I'm going to hold you to that!"

- Archer and Tucker

"We didn't build this engine to make test runs around Jupiter. We built it to explore! If my father were alive today, he'd be standing here asking: 'What the hell are we waiting for?' "

- Archer, to Commodore Forrest

Background information

Shooting First Flight

A.G. Robinson actor Keith Carradine laughing with Director LeVar Burton, during the creation of this episode

First Flight sailors

LeVar Burton with actors Scott Bakula and Connor Trinneer as well as a trio of sailors from the USS Enterprise (CVN-65)

First Flight fight talk

Keith Carradine discussing, with Director of Photography Marvin V. Rush, a fight scene from this episode

DVD releases

Links and references

Main Cast

Guest Stars

Special Guest Star


Uncredited Co-Stars


602 Club; Aldrin, Buzz; Alice Springs; Ariane; Archer, Henry; Armstrong, Neil; beer; bourbon; Bread Salad; Burger and Fries; Caroline; Chester; court martial; Cyrus; dark-matter nebula; Duvall; ; escape pod; Fontana: Gardner; Holmes, Sherlock; International Space Station; Italy; Jefferies; Jupiter; Jupiter, moons of; kilometer; logic; Luna; Mount McKinley; midnight oil; mushrooms; New Berlin; NX Control; NX Program; NX-Alpha; NX-Beta; NX-Delta; NX-class; pretzel; O'Herlihy; Potato Gratin; quantum field; rib; Robinson Nebula; Rosalie; Rosti a la 602; Sandwich de Jour; San Francisco; Starfleet Mission Control; Starfleet Museum; Steamed Veggies; Tucker, Charles I; Tucker, Charles II; Tycho Base; Vulcan; Vulcan Advisory Council; Vulcan database; Vulcan Science Directorate; warp 2 barrier; warp barrier; warp drive

Background References

Akers, Thomas; Anders, William; Anderson, Michael Phillip; Antarctica; Apollo; Apollo spacecraft; astronaut pin; Bean, Alan; Ariane; Baker, Michael A.; Barry, Daniel T.; Belgium; Bluford, Guion; Borman, Frank; Brandenstein, David; Brown, David McDowell; Buchli, James; Canada; Canadian Space Agency; Casper, John; Cernan, Eugene; Chaffee, Roger B.; Chawla, Kalpana; Chilton, Kevin P.; Clark, Laurel; Clipper ship; Coats, Michael; Conrad, Pete; Covey, Richard; Creighton, John Oliver; Cunningham, Walter; Denmark; Duke, Charles; eagle; Earth; Eisele, Donn F.; Endeavour (OV-105); Endeavour, HMS; Enterprise, USS (XCV-330); Evans, Ronald; European Space Agency; France; Galaxy; Germany; Gidzenko, Yuri; Gordon, Richard F., Jr.; Great Britain; Grissom, Gus; Hammond, L. Blaine; Harbaugh, Gregory J.; Hauck, Frederick; Helms, Susan J.; Hieb, Richard; Hilmers, David C.; Husband, Richard Douglas; International Space Station; Ireland; Israel; Irwin, James; Jernigan, Tamara E.; Kerwin, Joseph P.; Krikalyov, Sergei; Latin language; Apollo missions; Space shuttle missions; Lounge, John M.; Lovell, Jim; Luna; MacLean, Steven; Maple; Mattingly, Ken; McCool, William Cameron; McDivitt, James; McMonagle, Donald R.; Melnick, Bruce E.; Microgravity; Mission Control Center; Mitchell, Edgar; Mullane, George; Nelson, George; Netherlands; North America; Ochoa, Ellen; Olive Branch; Onizuka, Ellison; Payette, Julie; Payton, Gary; Phoenix; Ramon, Ilan; Rominger, Kent; Roosa, Stuart; Runco, Mario, Jr.; Russia; Russian Space Agency; Saturn; Saturn V; Schirra, Wally; Schmitt, Harrison; Schweickart, Rusty; Scott, David; Shepard, Alan; Shepherd, William; Shriver, Loren; Skylab; South America; Space shuttle; Spain; Stafford, Thomas P.; Sweden; Switzerland; Thornton, Kathryn P.; Thuot, Pierre J.; Tokarev, Valeri; United States of America; Veach, Charles L.; Weitz, Paul, J.; Wetherbee, Jim; White, Edward Higgins; Worden, Alfred; Young, John

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