This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Discovery, and thus may contain spoilers.
The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) was a 23rd century Federation Constitution-class starship operated by Starfleet. In the course of her career, the Enterprise became the most celebrated starship of her time.
In her forty years of service and discovery, through upgrades and at least two refits, she took part in numerous first contacts, military engagements, and time-travels. She achieved her most lasting fame from a five-year mission (2265-2270) under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. (Star Trek: The Original Series; Star Trek: The Motion Picture; VOY: "Q2")
The Enterprise was destroyed over the Genesis Planet in 2285, when Kirk activated the ship's auto-destruct sequence to prevent the Enterprise from falling into the hands of the Klingons. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
In the early to mid-23rd century, at least twelve heavy cruiser-type starships, the Constitution-class, were commissioned by the Federation Starfleet. (TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday") The vessel registered NCC-1701, which was constructed in San Francisco, was christened the Enterprise. Larry Marvick was stated to be one of the designers of the Enterprise, (TOS: "Is There in Truth No Beauty?") Dr. Richard Daystrom designed her computer systems, (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer") and Captain Robert April oversaw construction of her components, then commanded her during her trial runs and early missions. Sarah April served as the chief medical officer and designed several tools for the ship's sickbay. (TAS: "The Counter-Clock Incident")
Captain Christopher Pike commanded the Enterprise from the early 2250s into the 2260s. His missions included voyages to the Rigel, Vega, and Talos systems. Pike's half-Vulcan science officer, Spock, who served under him for over eleven years, ultimately became the starship's longest-serving officer. (TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I")
In late 2256, Michael Burnham encouraged Cadet Tilly to improve her physical conditioning so that she would stand out amongst her peers, and be assigned to the Enterprise or one of her sister ships. (DIS: "Lethe")
In 2257, Captain Pike on the Enterprise sent out a priority 1 distress call that was received by the USS Discovery while en route to Vulcan. The Enterprise rendezvoused with the Discovery after they dropped out of warp. (DIS: "Will You Take My Hand?")
Kirk's five-year mission
In 2265, the Enterprise was assigned to a five-year mission of deep-space exploration, and command passed to James T. Kirk. The ship's primary goal during this mission was to seek out and contact alien life. Captain Kirk's standing orders also included the investigation of all quasars and quasar-like phenomena.
Beyond its primary mission, the Enterprise defended Federation territories from aggression, aided member worlds in crisis, and provided scientific expeditions and colonies in her patrol area with annual examinations and support. (TOS: "Balance of Terror", "The Man Trap", "The Cloud Minders", "Journey to Babel", "The Galileo Seven", "The Deadly Years")
From 2265 to 2270, the Enterprise visited over seventy different worlds and encountered representatives of over sixty different species. More than twenty of those were first contacts with beings previously unknown to the Federation, including stellar neighbors like the First Federation and Gorn, voyagers from the Kelvan Empire in distant Andromeda, and powerful non-corporeal entities like the Thasians, Trelane, and the Organians. Two discovered species were the first known examples of silicon-based lifeforms: the Horta and the Excalbians. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", "Arena", "By Any Other Name", "The Devil in the Dark", "The Savage Curtain")
The Enterprise was the first Federation vessel to survive an encounter with the galactic barrier. The ship's warp drive and other systems, however, were critically damaged and casualties totaled twelve crewmembers and officers. By stardate 4657.5, the Enterprise was traveling through space in a region hundreds of light years further than any Earth starship had explored. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Return to Tomorrow")
The reality of time travel, externally influenced, had been known for over a century, but following two accidental temporal displacements, the Enterprise became the Federation's first deliberately-controlled timeship. Observing the death-throes of Psi 2000, the crew suffered from polywater intoxication and the Enterprise nearly lost orbit after an engine shutdown. A previously untested "cold start", via controlled matter-antimatter implosion, saved the ship, but the high-speed escape from the planet's gravity well caused the ship to travel three days into the past. (TOS: "The Naked Time")
In 2267, while escaping the gravitational pull of a black star, the Enterprise was hurled through space and time to Earth of 1969. The crew developed and executed a method to return to their own time, by warping around the sun's gravity well in a slingshot maneuver. A year later, the Enterprise was ordered to repeat the recently proven slingshot effect, and returned to Earth's past on a mission of historical observation. (TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday", "Assignment: Earth")
Some missions of discovery confronted Enterprise with entities and mechanisms that threatened great swaths of Federation and neighboring space.
An ancient "planet killer", fueled by the consumption of planets it destroyed with its antiproton weapon, approached Federation population centers in 2267. It required the combined efforts of the Enterprise and her sister ship, USS Constellation, to destroy it. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine")
One year later, in 2268, a single-cell organism of colossal scale emitted negative energy, toxic to humanoid life, killing the entire Vulcan crew of the USS Intrepid. The Enterprise penetrated the cell interior and destroyed the organism before its imminent cell division threatened to overwhelm the rest of the galaxy. (TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome")
The nature of its mission of exploration meant the Enterprise was frequently the only Federation military asset in a little-known, otherwise undefended frontier. When called into harm's way, the ship regularly did so with little chance of immediate support against previously unknown enemies and threats.
Happily, the Enterprise's earliest engagement of its five-year mission, against a deceptively powerful starship called the Fesarius, ended with an amicable first contact with the First Federation in 2266. Following the destruction of a colony on Cestus III, a surprise attack – from a previously unknown species – led the Enterprise to battle and pursue an evenly matched Gorn starship in 2267. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", "Arena")
The Enterprise played fox to the hounds of its four sister starships in a war game exercise on stardate 4729.4. Equipped with the new M-5 multitronic unit computer and stripped of most of its crew, the Enterprise became a killing machine – crippling the USS Excalibur and killing its entire crew – before Kirk could re-assert control. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer")
Warships of the Imperial Klingon Fleet were frequent opponents of the Enterprise. Commander Kor held the Enterprise and Kirk in high professional regard, and relished the prospect of battle. Lower ranks chose to mock the starship; on one such occasion, Korax compared the vessel to a "garbage scow" before he corrected himself, adding, "It should be hauled away as garbage." (TOS: "Errand of Mercy", "The Trouble with Tribbles")
While Starfleet rallied its forces at the outbreak of a Federation-Klingon War in 2267, the Enterprise was sent forward to secure a border region anchored by the planet Organia. The vessel destroyed a Klingon attack ship and prepared to engage an approaching Klingon fleet, before the Organian Peace Treaty precluded a full-scale war. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")
The Enterprise sporadically engaged Klingons throughout its voyage. A warship failed in an attempt to blockade the Enterprise from Capella IV in 2267. Sabotaged during a diplomatic mission to the Tellun system in 2268, the ship successfully fought off the assault of a harassing D7. The same year, the Enterprise was forced to destroy a battle cruiser that Kang had commanded but had recently abandoned, and the rescued Klingons (influenced by the Beta XII-A entity) subsequently made an unsuccessful attempt to wrest control of the Enterprise from Kirk. (TOS: "Friday's Child", "Elaan of Troyius", "Day of the Dove")
The Romulan Star Empire reemerged from a century of isolation to antagonize the Federation with the Neutral Zone Incursion of 2266. The Enterprise responded and was victorious against a new Romulan Bird-of-Prey equipped with a cloaking device and plasma torpedo system. (TOS: "Balance of Terror")
In later encounters, the Romulan fleet used strength of numbers in their efforts to overwhelm the Enterprise. When Commodore Stocker took temporary command and violated the Neutral Zone in 2267, up to ten Bird-of-Prey swarmed and pummeled the starship until Kirk's "corbomite" bluff inspired their withdrawal. (TOS: "The Deadly Years")
In 2268, the Enterprise again violated the Neutral Zone – for the purpose of espionage – and was quickly surrounded by three Romulan D7 class battle cruisers. She escaped by becoming the first Federation vessel to install and successfully utilize a (stolen) Romulan cloaking device. (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident")
In the final year of Kirk's original mission, the ship was ambushed by a trio of Romulan battle cruisers while on a routine survey. The Enterprise managed to escape through an energy field that adversely affected the ship's main computer. The malfunctioning systems were corrected by another pass through the field, this time with the Romulan ships in pursuit. The attackers then became incapacitated by the same computer malfunctions, and the Enterprise was able to escape. (TAS: "The Practical Joker")
Service aboard the Enterprise proved to be hazardous duty. Between 2265 and 2269, individuals who were killed while assigned to the ship included at least fifty-eight officers and crew – thirteen-point-five percent of the standard complement of 430. Nine crew members were killed when the Enterprise encountered the galactic barrier in 2265. Gary Mitchell, Lee Kelso, and Elizabeth Dehner later died on Delta Vega. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")
Two of the seven crewmembers assigned to study Murasaki 312 on the shuttlecraft Galileo – Latimer and Gaetano – both met an unfortunate end by the hand of a large creature on the planet Taurus II. (TOS: "The Galileo Seven")
In 2267, Enterprise security officers Hendorff, Kaplan, Mallory, and Marple were killed on the planet Gamma Trianguli VI. (TOS: "The Apple") Further incidents with multiple fatalities included four security guards killed by Nomad in 2267 as well as five security guards killed by the dikironium cloud creature on Argus X in 2268. An outbreak of Rigelian fever, in 2269, killed three crewmen and imperiled the rest until a source of ryetalyn could be obtained. (TOS: "The Changeling", "Obsession", "Requiem for Methuselah")
As well, two Enterprise security officers were beamed out into open space while the ship was under the control of Gorgan. (TOS: "And the Children Shall Lead") Lieutenant Galloway was vaporized by Captain Tracey on Omega IV, (TOS: "The Omega Glory") but later was somehow resurrected. (TOS: "Turnabout Intruder") Yeoman Thompson was reduced to a dry cuboctahedron solid. She was killed when the Kelvan Rojan crushed the object in his hand. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")
See also: Redshirt
Refits and further service
The Enterprise's first documented refit occurred sometime between 2254 and 2265. Minor changes were made to the ship's exterior (most notably the impulse engines, warp nacelles, running lights, and hull markings). More substantial changes were made to the interior color scheme and layout of the ship.
A second, more extensive refit occurred at some point after the craft's encounter with the "galactic barrier" in 2265. This refit involved replacing the bridge module, a newer, smaller deflector dish, and refinements to the warp nacelles. The ship's interior was also upgraded. The new bridge module included consoles with triangular and circular resin buttons as well as white-colored rocker flip switches. There was another small refit sometime in early 2266, too. The white-colored rocker flip switches seen on bridge consoles and on various places on the ship were replaced with multi-colored rocker flip switches.
In the late 2260s, a new bridge module added a second turbolift, and the design moved toward a completely smooth circular configuration, both standard features on future starships. At the same time, the translucent overhead dome was obscured, not to return until the Galaxy-class bridge. (TAS: "Beyond the Farthest Star")
At the end of its five-year mission, the Enterprise returned to Earth in 2270. Following its success, the ship had become a recognized symbol of Starfleet and the Federation. Starfleet's array of unique assignment patches were abandoned for the universal adoption of the Enterprise delta symbol, previously used on the assignment patch for the USS Kelvin. (Star Trek)
The stalwart vessel itself was by then twenty-five years old and returning from a deployment that included an unprecedented number of warp-speed records, hull-pounding battles, and frame-stressing maneuvers.
System upgrades with new technologies after long deployments were far from unusual in the ship's history. However, the Enterprise's overhaul of the early 2270s became a nearly keel-up redesign and reconstruction project.
The very heart of the ship was replaced with a radically different vertical warp core assembly, linked to new, and heavier, warp engine nacelles atop swept-back pylons and integrated with the impulse engines. The new drive system allowed for an expanded cargo hold in the secondary hull, linked to the shuttlebay.
Multiple egress points now included a port-side spacedock hatch, dual ventral space walk bays, four dorsal service hatches, and a standardized docking ring port aft of the bridge on the primary hull, four more docking ring ports, paired on the port and starboard sides of the launcher and secondary hulls respectively, and service hatch airlocks on the port and starboard sides of the hangar bay's main clam-shell doors.
A new bridge module reflected the modern computer systems, operating interfaces, and ergonomics that ran throughout the ship.
Following Kirk's promotion to rear admiral and posting as Chief of Starfleet Operations, his successor, Captain Will Decker (whom Kirk himself picked to succeed him), oversaw the refit, assisted by chief engineer Commander Montgomery Scott.
Decker was temporarily demoted to commander and posted as executive officer because of his familiarity with the new design. Incomplete systems had to be serviced during the vessel's shakedown cruise en route to V'ger, including the first test of the new warp engines.
Shortly after launch, a matter/antimatter intermix malfunction ruptured the warp field and led to the Enterprise entering into an unstable wormhole. Commander Decker belayed an order from Admiral Kirk to destroy an asteroid in their path, which had been dragged into the ruptured warp field along with them, with phasers. The refitted phasers now channeled power directly from the main engines at a point beyond the dilithium/magnatomic-initiator stage.
Because of this refitted function, the intermix malfunction, and the antimatter imbalance within the warp nacelles that had resulted, caused automatic cutoff of the phasers, a design change of which Kirk had not been aware. Decker ordered the use of photon torpedoes instead; as a backup, they had been designed to draw power from a separate system in case of a major phaser loss. The timely arrival of Commander Spock brought correction to the intermix problem. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
Once the V'ger threat was averted, Captain Decker was listed as "missing in action" and the Enterprise remained under Admiral Kirk's command for an interim period. At some point, Kirk passed command on to Captain Spock.
The new designs and components tested and proven aboard the Enterprise influenced a generation of starship design, from the Miranda-class to the Constellation-class, as well as other retro-fitted Constitutions. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
The Enterprise was tasked to investigate, and Spock deferred his command to Admiral Kirk. Subsequent engagements with Reliant left the ship badly damaged with cadet and crew deaths, including Captain Spock. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
Upon the Enterprise returning to Earth, Starfleet Commander in Chief Admiral Harry Morrow announced that the starship, at that point forty years old, would be decommissioned. When Morrow denied Kirk requesting permission to return to the Mutara sector, Kirk conspired with his senior officers and stole the Enterprise from Earth Spacedock, in order to recover Spock's body from the Genesis Planet – to bring it and Spock's katra, the latter possessed by Leonard McCoy, to Vulcan. As part of the plan, Kirk had Scott rig up an automation system to run the Enterprise so easily that "a chimpanzee and two trainees" could have handled the craft.
At the Enterprise's destination, the ship was attacked by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey operated by Klingon Commander Kruge, an assault that left the Enterprise disabled; Scotty's automation system was not designed for combat and overloaded when the ship was attacked. After setting the auto-destruct sequence, Kirk and his crew abandoned the ship for the surface of the Genesis Planet. Demolition charges in place in the bridge and elsewhere throughout the ship's saucer section exploded, killing a Klingon boarding party. The secondary hull (with what was left of the saucer) fell from orbit and blazingly streaked across the planet's atmosphere. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
- Captain Robert April (2245-2250)
- Captain Christopher Pike (2250s through early 2260s)
- Captain James T. Kirk (2265-2270; as rear admiral in early 2270s and again in 2285)
- Captain Will Decker (during refit and shakedowns in early 2270s)
- Captain Spock (2285)
Command crew under Kirk's command
- Executive/First Officer
- Second Officer
- Chief engineer
- Chief medical officer
- Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell (2265)
- Lieutenant/Lieutenant Commander/Commander Hikaru Sulu (2266-2270s, 2285)
- Lieutenant Leslie (2266-67)
- Lieutenant Hansen (2267)
- Lieutenant Hadley (2267-68)
- Lieutenant DePaul (2267)
- Lieutenant Spinelli (2267)
- Lieutenant Kyle (2268)
- Lieutenant Rahda (2268)
- Ensign Walking Bear (2270)
- Communications officer/Operations officer
- Lieutenant Lee Kelso (2265)
- Lieutenant Dave Bailey (2266)
- Lieutenant John Farrell (2266)
- Lieutenant Kevin Riley (2266)
- Lieutenant Stiles (2266)
- Lieutenant Hadley (2267-69)
- Lieutenant DeSalle (2267)
- Lieutenant DePaul (2267)
- Lieutenant Osborne (2267)
- Lieutenant Leslie (2267)
- Lieutenant Painter (2267)
- Ensign Pavel Chekov (2267-69)
- Ensign Jana Haines (2268)
- Lieutenant Arex (2269-70)
- Lieutenant Ilia (2270s)
- Chief Petty Officer DiFalco (2270s)
- Lieutenant Saavik (2285)
- Security chief
- Tactical Officer
- Lieutenant Sulu (2266 – 2270)
- Ensign Pavel Chekov (2267 – 2270)
- Science Officer
- Records officer
- A&A officer
- Star Trek: The Original Series (every episode)
- Star Trek: The Animated Series (every episode, except "The Slaver Weapon")
- Star Trek films:
- TNG: "Relics" (bridge shown on holodeck)
- DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations"
- DS9: "What You Leave Behind" (corridor shown in montage)
- ENT: "These Are the Voyages..." (closing montage)
- DIS: "Will You Take My Hand?"
The Enterprise and its interiors were designed primarily by Matt Jefferies. A three-foot demonstration model was completed in November 1964 by the Howard Anderson Company to show to Gene Roddenberry. After getting his approval, an eleven-foot model was then constructed by Richard C. Datin, Jr., Mel Keys, and Vern Sion at Volmer Jensen's model shop, and was finished in December 1964. The eleven-foot model was modified for TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and again for the regular series effect shots. Re-used footage of all three stages of the eleven-foot model's appearance are seen mixed together in TOS.
For Star Trek: The Animated Series, the color of the Enterprise was limited. D.C. Fontana commented, "For the purposes of animation you can't do the light white, silver kinds of colors. So they made the Enterprise gray and it came off all right." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 16, p. 68)
Some distinctive effects shots of the Enterprise from TOS were recreated in animation for Star Trek: The Animated Series. Depicting the ship performing any new, impressive maneuvers would have been too costly for TAS and would have taken the animators too long to show, despite frequent TAS Director Hal Sutherland later implying that a desire to portray the ship doing "barrel rolls and that kind of thing" was quite common. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 16, pp. 63 & 64)
The refit of the Enterprise depicted in the films Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was designed by Andrew Probert, based on designs for the vessel made by Matt Jefferies for undeveloped television series Star Trek: Phase II. The design for the movie refit was the basis of a design patent issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The Enterprise was to have appeared in Star Trek: The First Adventure that revealed the design of the ship in TOS was actually a refit; the original design resembled Enterprise NX-01, though that vessel was created years later.
The Enterprise was recreated as a new physical model for the DS9 Season 5 episode "Trials and Tribble-ations". The ship's interior was represented with sets built on Paramount Stage 11. (Information from Larry Nemecek) The CG model of Constitution-class USS Defiant, created for "In a Mirror, Darkly", was relabeled as the Enterprise for the final scene of "These Are the Voyages...", the last episode of Star Trek: Enterprise.
A new CG model, built from caliper measurements of the original eleven-foot physical model, was created for use in the remastered and recreated version of Star Trek: The Original Series (for more detailed treatises on the studio models used, see the appropriate articles: Constitution-class model (original) and Constitution-class model (refit)).
Visual effects artist Gabriel Koerner created a re-imagined version of the pre-refit Enterprise. The design is more contemporary, while keeping the design of the original ship. A video showing the ship from various angles can be seen on YouTube. The model was also featured as the August image for the 2007 Ships of the Line calendar, as well as in the Ships of the Line coffee-table book, placed between TOS and TMP images, which included text from Michael Okuda suggesting it as one of the ideas on how to refit the ship.
The Enterprise was pictured on three paintings during the Star Trek franchise: on a painting in the recreation deck of the refitted vessel in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, on a painting in the waiting area of the sickbay aboard the USS Enterprise-D in the Star Trek: The Next Generation fifth season episode "Ethics", and on a painting on the wall of Kirk's kitchen in the Nexus in Star Trek Generations.
Upon preparing to view the bridge of the Enterprise in the first draft script of TNG: "Relics", Montgomery Scott specified, "Show her the way she was before Stardate 5928," referencing the stardate on which TOS series finale "Turnabout Intruder" takes place. Consequently, this line of dialogue would have established that the holographic simulation of the Enterprise's bridge in "Relics" was definitely contemporaneous with the exact setting of TOS. Scott did not specify that in the final draft of the script, however.  The line is also not spoken on screen.
The Enterprise was to have been referenced in the first draft script of VOY: "Flashback", in connection with its near-destruction at Eminiar VII. However, all mention of the vessel was eliminated from the episode by the time the final draft of the script was written.
A new CGI model was created for the appearance of the USS Enterprise in the Season 1 finale of Star Trek: Discovery, "Will You Take My Hand?". This model updates the appearance of the USS Enterprise to better match the style of Starfleet ships seen in the show, most noticeably changing the warp nacelles to have visible, glowing blue cutouts on the inner surface. The impulse engine is also different and the nacelle pylons are swept back with openings in their centers similar to the refit configuration. The new model also has a longer "runway" before the shuttlebay doors.
Right up until Star Trek: Discovery, the classic TOS Constitution-class model, as it was traditionally depicted during the mid-23rd century of the prime reality, was consistently maintained in later Star Trek shows and movies, most notably in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" and the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes "In a Mirror, Darkly", "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II", and "These Are the Voyages...".