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NX Test Ship

Size Comp
Universe : Prime Timeline
Affiliation : Humans
Class Name : NX Test Ship
Type : Warp flight test ship [1]
Unit Run :
NX Alpha - Destroyed [1]
NX Beta [1] - Retired
NX Delta [1] - Retired
NX Gamma - Retired
4 have been retired from service.
Commissioned : 2143 [1] - 2145, remained in service until 2147
Dimensions : Length : 20 m
Beam : 14 m
Height : 2.5 m
Decks : 1
Mass : 40 metric tons
Crew : 1 [1]
Defence Systems : Light Monotanium Single hull.
Low level Structural Integrity Field
Warp Speeds
(TOS scale) :
Normal Cruise : 2.2 [1]
Maximum Cruise : 2.5 [1]
Maximum Rated : 3 [1]
Strength Indices :
(Galaxy class = 1,000)
Beam Firepower : -
Torpedo Firepower : -
Weapon Range and Accuracy : -
Shield Strength : -
Hull Armour : 0.31
Speed : 14
Combat Manoeuvrability : 18
Overall Strength Index : 4
Diplomatic Capability : None
Expected Hull Life : Several flights


The NX test ships were built as part of the program which led to the NX class Starship. They were the first Human-built vessels which exceeded warp factor 2, and later warp factor 3. The first warp 2 flight was made in 2143 by AG Robinson; the NX Alpha suffered a catastrophic accident at warp 2.2 and was destroyed, though Robinson managed to eject safely. The NX Beta subsequently achieved stable flight at warp 2.5. After a year of testing to prove the safety of the engine, tests resumed; eight months later Duvall achieved warp 3 in the NX Delta.

These flights proved the capability and safety of the warp engine designed by Henry Archer, allowing the Human race to mount true deep space interstellar missions for the first time. [1]

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation


# Series Season Source Comment
1 ENT 2 First Flight
Series : ENT Season 2
Episode : First Flight


Seen in Enterprise "First Flight", the notes on this ship summarise the major data points of the episode. One thing I have omitted is the fact that Archer and Robinson stole the second prototype and made an unauthorised flight to prove its capabilities. Since this seems to have been hushed up afterwards, I have assumed that the real DITL would not know about it.

Some of the specs come directly from the episode - the speed of warp 2.2 is the maximum reached by the NX Alpha before the accident, whilst the speed of 2.5 is reported by Archer on the unauthorised flight. Archer tells T'Pol that the NX Delta broke warp 3 later on. It's possible that the Beta exceeded warp 2.5 later in its life, but I have chosen to go with what we saw rather than speculate.

The size of the ship is based on the cockpit. A re-use of the Phoenix cockpit, this is wide enough to take two seats comfortably. I assumed a width of about eight feet, then used the schematic diagram of the ship seen on the wall of the control room to determine the other dimensions from this.

This episode allows us to come up with a build time for the NX class Enterprise.

Describing the aftermath of his warp 2+ flight, Archer says to T'Pol :

Archer : "We managed to avoid a court martial, but they grounded us for three months."
T'Pol : "Still, the NX-Program continued."
Archer : "Eventually. the Vulcans had us run every simulation they could think of for over a year before they finally admitted the engine would probably work. Eight months after that Duvall broke warp three in the NX-Delta. And five years later, we laid the keel for Enterprise."

Now in "Unexpected", Archer talks to the alien ship about Tucker and says "With all due respect, I've known Commander Tucker for eight years..."

Unexpected takes place in a glut of undated episodes, but it's between "Fight or Flight" (6 May 2151) and "Civilization" (31 July 2151).

So Archer met Trip around June 2143. Since we see this happen in "First Flight", we can get a timeline.

The only two uncertainties is in Archer's comment to T'pol - we don't know if his three month grounding happened before the "over a year" of simulation or during. And that "over a year" comment could reasonably mean anything from 12 to 15+ months.

Assuming that the grounding was during the simulation, and that the over a year was 13 months, would maximise the build time for Enterprise, so that's what I will do first :

June 2143 Archer meets Trip. First successful warp 2 flight. Extensive simulation of the NX engine begins.
September 2143 Archer's grounding is completed.
July 2144 Simulation completed. NX test flights resumed.
March 2145 Duvall breaks warp 3.
March 2150 Keel of Enterprise is laid.
April 2151 Enterprise launched.

So, we know that the construction of Enterprise took a maximum of thirteen months.

If we turned those assumptions around, making the "over a year" be 15 months (any more and "almost eighteen months" would be more correct) and making the three months grounding before the simulations, the timeline becomes :

June 2143 Archer meets Trip, First successful warp 2 flight.
September 2143 Archer's grounding is completed. Extensive simulation of the NX engine begins.
December 2144 Simulation completed. NX test flights resumed.
August 2145 Duvall breaks warp 3.
August 2150 Keel of Enterprise is laid.
April 2151 Enterprise launched.

So the build time drops to eight months.

Now we know it took over thirty years to develop the engine, and for all we know the design process for the rest of the ship was just as long. So new ship designs aren't necessarily going to be pouring out of Starfleet anytime soon.

One problem with this is that in the season 2 finale, we see the NX 02 under construction - it looks about half finished. They then state that the ship will take another 14 months to be completed. So the NX 02 is taking something like twice as long to build as the NX 01 did! Presumably there was some problem with the construction of the NX 02, or a redesign or something.

© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 58,606 Last updated : 5 Apr 2013