The NX Project, also known as the NX Program or NX Test Program, was Starfleet's effort to develop a starship using the engine designed by the Warp Five program. Prior to the NX Project, Human ships were incapable of exceeding warp two.
During the early 22nd century, the Earth Cargo Service was Earth's only real presence in outer space; the crew of these ships would spend years traveling from one planet to another and the Humans with the most space experience were boomers: the first generation of Humans who were born in outer space.
The NX Project was an effort to allow Humanity's knowledge to expand and continue space exploration; it was overseen by Commodore Maxwell Forrest from its initial stages in the early 2140s. During this time, the program fielded several test vehicles with prototype versions of the warp five engine. These prototypes were piloted by Commanders Jonathan Archer, A.G. Robinson, Gardner, and Duvall. Captain Jefferies was an engineer on the NX Program, and Lieutenant Charles Tucker III worked on his team.
After some initial progress at speeds below warp 2, the project quickly stalled sometime prior to 2143. Robinson's test flight of the NX-Alpha ended in an explosion after the engines were pushed slightly beyond warp 2. On the recommendation of the Vulcan Advisory Council, the project was indefinitely suspended. However, Lieutenant Tucker and Commander Archer believed the design to be fundamentally sound. Tucker's analysis showed the intermix ratio of the fuel flowing through the antimatter injectors proved to be the root of the problem. Tucker's corrections allowed the NX-Beta – illegally piloted by Archer and Robinson – to enjoy a more successful test flight.
Though their efforts were a contravention of direct orders, Tucker, Archer and Robinson had effectively confirmed the utility of the warp five engine. Nevertheless, the Vulcans required over a year of additional ground-based simulations following the NX-Beta flight. Eight months subsequent to this period, in 2145, Duvall broke the warp 3 barrier in the NX-Delta. (ENT: "First Flight") The events of the next five years led to the production of the vessel that would eventually be named the USS Franklin, which became the first starship to achieve warp 4. (Star Trek Beyond)
In 2149, the keel of Enterprise NX-01 was laid, and in April of 2151 the ship was finally launched. At that time, another three vessels of the NX-class were on the drawing board. Forrest was promoted to admiral, and he selected Archer as the ship's commanding officer, over the objections of Vulcan Ambassador Soval, who felt that Gardner would have been a better choice. (ENT: "First Flight", "Broken Bow")
Ships of the NX Program
- The NX-class of starships
- Mirror universe NX-class ships:
No mention was ever made of an "NX-Gamma", which according to the Greek alphabet would have been between Beta and Delta. It is unclear what, if any, relationship the USS Franklin, Earth's first warp four vessel as per Star Trek Beyond, had to the NX Project.
If the NX Project continued to use the names of NASA space shuttle orbiters in sequence after Enterprise and Columbia, the NX-03 and NX-04 would have been named Challenger and Discovery, respectively.
It was not specified whether the NX Project remained active after Enterprise and other NX-class vessels were launched.
The Pocket ENT novels Kobayashi Maru and Beneath the Raptor's Wing depict the manufacture of four additional NX-class ships, Challenger (NX-03) (β), Discovery (NX-04) (β), Atlantis (NX-05) (β), and Endeavour (NX-06) (β), before the program was shut down in favor of the Daedalus-class of starship, which could be built faster and cheaper. The Pocket TNG novel Indistinguishable from Magic introduced the Intrepid (NX-07) (β) and indicated that approximately fifteen or sixteen ships of the class were made before the line was discontinued.