|For SciFy fans around the world, the mention of the starship Enterprise will immediately elicit a pleasant response, usually generated from memories of childhood hours spent pretending to be Captain Kirk or Jean Luc Picard. Whether these fans liked the original Star Trek series, or related more with "Star Trek- The Next Generation", every fan knows the importance of the Enterprise. It was the space craft used to carry eager young Starfleet graduates and seasoned officers into the vast territory of space. No SciFy fan has been immune from the charms of a vessel that has safely brought so many star voyagers home. No fan can discuss any major points about the Star Trek shows or movies without mentioning the starship Enterprise at least once.
The starship Enterprise captured the imaginations of viewers around the world. As the setting on which shows and movies were filmed, the ship got plenty of exposure. Through the course of the original Star Trek series, several movies, an alternate time line and "Star Trek- The Next Generation", the starship Enterprise was designed and redesigned. The original design debuted on the original "Star Trek" series. It was considered a "cruiser class" vessel that held around 200 people at full capacity. As the original series stated in its opening monolog, it was on a five year mission to explore ‘new worlds', so the ship and the crew's presence on the ship were vital parts to the show's core theme.
It made its first appearance on television, during the original Star Trek series in September 1966 as the NCC-1701 starship. Roddenberry was said to have picked that number because it was easily seen. Its defense systems included photon torpedoes and phaser banks which was quite advanced weaponry for the 1960's era of the show. And the phrase "Beam me up, Scotty" originated from the ship's crew being brought aboard with the transporters, a concept that originated when the show's budget wouldn't allow for the ship to dock on the planet.
Over a period of years the Enterprise went through several upgrades, even getting and losing a bowling alley that was located on Deck 21. The bowling alley, placed there for crew recreation during off-duty hours, was located right beside the Food and Beverages Preparation Facility and the Refreshments Area.
In "Star Trek- The Next Generation" trained Starfleet officers manned the updated and modernized controls. The Enterprise could raise its shields and defend its crew with photon torpedoes and phaser arrays. It could also jump to warp speeds to avoid complete annihilation in battle or to move on to the next leg of its journey with speeds that were fast than that of the original Enterprise. There were other improvements that stayed, such as the Holodeck that provided entertainment and even education for crew members such as Data. The improved space age technology and capabilities of this ship personified the hopes of everyone that ever dreamed about the realities of space exploration.
The impact of this ship has been felt for generations, so much so that during NASA's original test flight, the space shuttle was named Enterprise to answer the massive amounts of letters that were received by Star Trek fans of all ages.
Without the original setting of the Enterprise as a backdrop, the cast and crew of Star Trek may not have enjoyed so much success. The ship was more than just a prop, used as a background in the show. It was home and a safe haven for millions of "Star Trek" fans that faithfully followed the crew to where "no man has gone before".