(covers information from several alternate timelines)
Design and systems
A schematic of NX-Alpha included references to its field impeller (port and starboard), field gen overthruster (port and starboard), auxiliary power bus-2 (port) and 3 (starboard), pylon torsion regulator, hydraulic manifold 33 (port) and 34 (starboard), plasma conduits, forward field flow sensors (port and starboard), TPS regulation sensor, environmental systems, forward DFI sensors, command avionics bay, forward radiation grid, and crew ejection module.
A pre-flight checklist included: verify primary command sequence protocol, confirm port and starboard surge tank pressure at nominal operating temperature, ESCOM checklist 29, guidance and navigation software update, and reset panel circuit breakers and verify settings.
Several commanders in Starfleet competed to be chosen as the first to fly NX-Alpha in the effort to break the warp 2 barrier. After several weeks, it became clear the competition was down to Jonathan Archer, Henry Archer's son, and A.G. Robinson. Although Archer had logged more flight hours in the simulator, Commodore Forrest selected Commander Robinson.
In 2143, Commander Robinson flew NX-Alpha while Commander Archer monitored from Starfleet Command. Initially, there was an imbalance in the power systems, causing them to keep NX-Alpha in orbit. When they finally gave him the okay, Robinson jumped to warp 1.
The ship successfully attained warp 2, but the power systems began rapidly overloading. Command ordered him to drop to sublight, but Robinson believed it could be pushed a little further. After attaining warp 2.2, NX-Alpha broke up just outside of orbit of Jupiter. Luckily, Robinson was able to eject in an escape pod that was retrieved and brought back to Earth.
Afterward, the Vulcan Advisory Council insisted on pausing the program until the Human scientists could figure out what had gone wrong, and run more simulations. Robinson told the inquiry that it was a design flaw in the engine, although Commander Archer and Lieutenant Charles Tucker asserted that it was actually pilot error. The results of NX-Alpha's mission eventually led to the unapproved flight of the NX-Beta. (ENT: "First Flight")
|NX prototypes: NX-Alpha • NX-Beta • NX-Delta|
|Ships: Enterprise NX-01 • Columbia NX-02 • NX-03 • NX-04|
|Mirror universe: ISS Enterprise NX-01 • ISS Avenger NX-09|
In the final draft script of "First Flight", NX-Alpha was described thus; "It's a small, shuttle-sized spacecraft fitted with two old-style warp nacelles." The script referred to the craft's interior as "NX-Cockpit" and described the area as "Cramped and somewhat primitive by [NX-class starship] standards (and perhaps similar in appearance to Zephram Cochrane's [sic] 'Phoenix')." The cockpit was additionally scripted to include a pilot's seat, many "controls, including a sophisticated joystick," and a "small front viewport". The craft's destruction was described in the script as "a spectacular blast!"
The Artisan prop and model shop of Quantum Mechanix, QMx FX Cinema Arts, was asked to illustrate the history of space flight with models for the film Star Trek Into Darkness. NX-Alpha was included in the models constructed, of which there were fourteen different classes in total. On the organization's website, there was a picture of the NX-Alpha model.