Any true fan of Star Trek will tell you the USS Enterprise is no mere starship — it’s a character in its own right. They might even know that several ships, all bearing the proud name, have carried captains and crews on their long and dangerous missions to seek out new life and civilizations in the farthest reaches of the galaxy.
But only the most dedicated of this group, those who proudly call themselves Trekkers or Trekkies, have a deep knowledge of the ship in all its many iterations — practically a different Enterprise for each TV series and movie, including the latest big-screen version, Star Trek Into Darkness.
There’s Captain Kirk’s dependable space cruiser, Captain Picard’s luxury liner, and the bigger craft seen in the alternate-reality of the JJ Abrams’ movies. (There are also lesser known Enterprises: The forgotten middle-year ships, the three engined one, the evil battle cruiser, and the never-even-officially-existed fan versions.) How on earth — or, in space — to keep track of them all? Easy: TIME presents a brief history of the Starships Enterprise.
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