'Star Trek' spaceships through the years (pictures)
As "Star Trek Into Darkness" hits theaters this week, get a refresher on the prominent starships seen throughout the "Star Trek" saga.
USS Enterprise NCC-1701
Over the last 47 years of "Star Trek," fans have seen many captains and crews zipping around the cosmos aboard colossal Starfleet spacecraft. As "Star Trek Into Darkness" launches into U.S. theaters, we look back at the main ships seen in the 5 television series and 12 movies.
This photo shows a CGI version of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, launched in 2245, which Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and crew flew aboard in the original television series. According to the 2011 book "Star Trek: U.S.S. Enterprise: Haynes Manual," art director Matt Jefferies' Enterprise design was influenced from aviation designs and an electric stove coil. The ship used deflector shields for protection and photon torpedoes and phasers to fight back against hostile alien ships. To get around, the Enterprise (and most other Federation ships) uses a warp drive to bounce around from system to system.
Even though NBC cancelled the original "Star Trek" television show after a three-year stint in the late 1960s, the show became a cult classic and enjoyed healthy ratings in syndication during the 1970s. With interest in sci-fi at an all-time high (thanks to "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"), Paramount greenlit a full "Star Trek" film that debuted in 1979. A slightly enhanced Enterprise made its debut in the film and would be the primary ship used until its destruction in the 1986 film "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock."
"Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" and the following two films featured a new USS Enterprise, nearly identical to its predecessor, registered as the NCC-1701-A. Initially launched in 2286, the ship contained a swarm of internal problems, but after repairs it served exceptionally well until the original crew bowed out in the 1991 film "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country."
When "Star Trek: The Next Generation" debuted on television screens in 1987, it brought a new Enterprise designed by Andrew Probert. Captained by Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), the ship launched in 2363 and featured aesthetics much more futuristic in appearance than previous ships seen in the series. The NCC-1701-D split apart and crash-landed during an intense space battle in the 1994 movie "Star Trek: Generations." Briefly, the television show also revealed the unfortunate fate of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C.
Another version of the USS Enterprise, the NCC-1701-B, made its debut in the film "Star Trek: Generations." Captain John Harriman (Alan Ruck) commanded the vessel, which launched in 2293. During its maiden voyage, the NCC-1701-B followed up on a distress call that resulted in the presumed death of Captain Kirk, who was on board to celebrate the first flight.
With the Enterprise from "The Next Generation" destroyed, Jean-Luc and the gang needed a new ship. Enter the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E, launched in 2372. It would serve as the main ship seen in the films "Star Trek: First Contact," "Insurrection," and "Nemesis."
Even though the 1993 television show "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" mostly took place aboard a floating space station of the same name (previously referred to as Terok Nor), the series introduced its primary Starfleet vessel, the USS Defiant, led by Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) in the third season. The ship, launched in 2370, featured an array of torpedoes, a cloaking drive, and was made to fight off those pesky Dominion.
Jim Martin, Gary Hutzel and Tony Meininger collaborated on the creation of the Defiant for the show.
Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) led the USS Voyager, which was the primary setting for the show "Star Trek: Voyager." The ship launched from Deep Space 9 in 2371, and shortly thereafter, a massive energy wave consumed the ship and left it 70,000 light years from home.
Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) commanded the Enterprise NX-01, one of the earliest Starfleet ships in the series canon. The ship was the main setting for the television show "Star Trek: Enterprise", which first aired in 2001 and ended four years later.
During one episode, the show gave fans a brief look at a 26th century Enterprise called NCC-1701-J.
After years of inactivity, Paramount Pictures brought "Star Trek" back to life with the hit 2009 film of the same name. The movie, directed by J.J. Abrams, took place in an alternate reality and starred a young James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto). The refreshed USS Enterprise NCC-1701, full of curves and a sleek appearance, looks like a souped-up version of the original first seen decades ago. Artist Ryan Church and Industrial Light & Magic designed the latest Enterprise.