"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before!"

Fans and non-fans alike know these famous words from the opening monologue voiced by actor William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek (NBC, 1966-69). In 1987, for Star Trek: the Next Generation (syndication, 1987-1994), it was updated to call out the "ongoing" mission and broadened to a call to "boldly go where no one has gone before." Either way, the words evoke the franchise's focus on an imagined future where explorers travel the cosmos, as well as Star Trek's impact in the real world. For decades, Star Trek has has drawn many people into world of science fiction, while also inspiring people to become astronauts, scientists, and pilots in the real world. The Star Trek franchise has continuously transcended cultural boundaries—often showing us how our own future could be more equal.

Learn About:     Star Trek in the Collection     Get to Know Star Trek     Characters Who Boldly Went     Star Trek: Fact or Fiction?

Star Trek in the Museum's Collection

Over the years, the National Air and Space Museum has collected memorabilia and objects related to the Star Trek franchise, including the studio model of the starship Enterprise from the original series.

Why collect objects from a fictional show?

All air and space milestones begin with inspiration. So does science fiction. Iconic objects from Star Trek displayed amid our spacecraft celebrate the journey from imagination to achievement, and continue to provide inspiration.

The Studio Model of the USS Enterprise

This studio model was used for filming the original Star Trek television series, which aired from 1966 to 1969. In the television show, the starship Enterprise traveled at speeds measured in multiples of the speed of light using warp drives, a propulsion concept extrapolated from supersonic flight to imagine a future with faster-than-light travel. It appeared in all 79 episodes of the original series.

See the Object Record
Conserving Enterprise

In 2016, the Museum set out on its own mission: to conserve the studio model for generations to come. The Museum’s goal was to stabilize the model, document its history of changes, and return it to the appearance it had for the August 1967 filming of the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” That episode marked the last known modification of the model during Star Trek’s production.

Learn More About the Effort to Conserve Enterprise
Collecting Spock

Spock, as portrayed by Leonard Nimoy, is the half-human, half-Vulcan second-in-command to Captain Kirk in the original series. He is perhaps one of the most recognizable characters from the Star Trek franchise.

Spock is often known for his pointy ears and Vulcan salute and greeting ("Live Long and Prosper"). The Vulcans are a humanoid alien species who live by logic and reason, and are often devoid of any emotion.

The Museum has multiple Spock ears in its collection, from originals used in filming to a reproduction ear that was made by fan who went on to produce art and visual effects for later adaptations of Star Trek. 

Unboxing Leonard Nimoy's Spock Ears

Watch as curator Margaret Weitekamp unboxes the a set of Spock ear tips donated by the Nimoy family, and sees them for the first time as a Museum artifact.

See Object Record
More Stories About Spock The Iconic Ears of Mr. Spock

Discovery how Spock’s ear tips from the original series joined the Museum’s collection. 

Conserving Spock's Ear

Follow Museum conservators as they work on a replica Spock ear tip made by a fan.

Remembering Nimoy

Museum staff share their memories of Nimoy.

To Me, Mr. Nimoy Was Mr. Spock

For Museum geologist Bob Craddock, Spock meant something special.

Object D7 Klingon Battle Cruiser Model

This model of a Klingon D7 Battle Cruiser. It was was used in the filming of the original television series as the standard fighter spacecraft of the warlike Klingon Empire. It was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1973. The Klingons are a fictional species from the Star Trek universe. They serve as recurring antagonists in the original Star Trek series, but have appeared as allies in later Star Trek adaptations.

See Object Record
Speaking Klingon

How do you create an alien language?

Just like you might not speak the same language as someone from another country, when encountering an alien species from a different planet, there is a good chance you might not understand their language. According to the Star Trek story line, Starfleet first makes contact with the Klingon Empire in the year ("stardate") 2151. Watch this clip from our video series, "STEM in 30", as we talk to Marc Okrand, who created the Klingon language for Star Trek. 

More from the Collection at the National Air and Space Museum See More Star Trek Objects from the Museum's Collection Badge, Star Trek Communicator, Sally Ride


Model, Starship Enterprise, in clear plastic block, "Star Trek"


Tribble, Large, Brown, "Star Trek" TV Show, Prop


...and Across the Smithsonian Institution Ear Tip Worn by Leonard Nimoy as Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn

Object at National Museum of American History

Red Starfleet uniform worn by Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura on Star Trek

Object at National Museum of African American History and Culture

33c Star Trek Single Stamp

Object at the National Postal Museum


Get to Know Star Trek

Not a major Star Trek fan? Check out these 3 fast facts about the franchise to get up to (warp) speed.

Pictured: The cast of Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969), often referred to in shorthand by fans as ST:TOS.

1. What is the plot of Star Trek?

Star Trek is a science fiction franchise that follows the humans and aliens who serve in Starfleet. Starfleet is a space-based humanitarian armada of the United Federation of Planets—the interstellar government featured in Star Trek. While stories often follow the adventures of a particular captain and crew, they also often pull on real-world issues. 

The original series ran from 1966 to 1969 on NBC. Its depiction of a racially-integrated, multinational crew of men and women working together successfully, as well as its attention to contemporary social and political issues, pushed the boundaries of network television, earning Star Trek a dedicated fan base that lobbied for the franchise's continuation.

Today there are several spin-off series, a film franchise, and more.

2. Who created Star Trek?

Star Trek was created by American screenwriter and producer Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry pitched the show to Desilu Productions, which provided early support. Co-Founder and studio head of Desilu Productions, Lucille Ball, was instrumental in moving the project forward. Desilu Productions and Roddenberry developed a script and pitched the show to NBC, who picked it up.

Even after Roddenberry's death in 1991, the franchise has continued to grow with new television shows, movies, and other media. 

3. When did Star Trek first premiere?

The original Star Trek television series first aired in 1966 and ran for three seasons. NBC threatened to cancel the show after its second season. However, fans mounted a massive letter writing campaign in support of a third season and the show was renewed. With a total of 79 episodes, the original series was cancelled in 1969 at the end of its third season (to the protest of many fans).

Characters Who Boldly Went Where None Had Gone Before

Gene Roddenberry envisioned the bridge crew for the starship Enterprise as including men and women of different races all working together—in a time when humans in the real world were fighting for equality during the Civil Rights Era.

There is no shortage of iconic characters from Star Trek, and to cover them all we would need to travel at warp speed. Below, find stories about a few of the characters, and the actors who boldly went where none had gone before that portrayed them.

As portrayed by Nichelle Nichols Lieutenant Uhura

Nichelle Nichols portrayed Lieutenant Uhura in the original series. The character gained a first name, Nyota, in novelizations published in the 1980s. In the show, Uhura serves as the translator and communications officer for Captain Kirk aboard the starship Enterprise, speaking multiple alien languages. Nichols was one of the first Black women to hold a prominent role in a major television series. In addition to breaking barriers on screen, she helped NASA recruit astronaut candidates to join the Space Shuttle program. 

Read More About the Life and Legacy of Nichols
Nichols and the Museum Team Up to Encourage Young Girls

Nichelle Nichols stars in this promotional film, "Whats in it For Me?" made for the Air and Space Museum in the late 1970s. The film was produced by Nichols's company Women in Motion for the Museum. In it, Nichols, appearing as her character Lt. Uhuratours the Museum with a young girl who asks her if girls really can travel outer space, just like Uhura does aboard the starship Enterprise in Star Trek.

As portrayed by George Takei Lieutenant Sulu

George Takei portrayed Lieutenant Sulu, Captain Kirk's third officer and senior helmsman, in the original series. The character gained a first name, Hikaru, in a novelization published in 1981. Takei made history as the first Asian American to play a major, non-stereotyped character on an American television show. In his work, he's embraced the Star Trek philosophy of diversity and social justice, advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and sharing his experience in the Japanese-American incarceration camps during World War II.

Listen to a Podcast Episode about Takei's Legacy
More About Star Trek and Queer Identity

Star Trek: The Original Series is well known for being a leader in terms of gender and racial integration—featuring a cast of men and women of different races working together. But it turns out this environment of inclusion did not always extend to queer identity. Later Star Trek adaptations have included same-sex relationships and non-binary identities. 

Read More About the History of Queer Identity and Star Trek

Star Trek: Fact or Fiction?

Science fiction often draws on real life space exploration for ideas that make the fantastical seem realistic. Let's take a closer look at where fiction ends and reality begins. 

How do Spacesuits in Star Trek Compare to Real Life?

Join our spacesuit curator Cathleen Lewis as she breaks down spacesuits from Star Trek and other pieces of science fiction. 

Star Trek: Science Fiction or Science Fact?

Join the hosts of our video series "STEM in 30" as they talk to experts about how real science influenced the Star Trek universe. 

Star Trek’s Connections to the Real World

Star Trek is not only popular—it's important for current scholarship and industry! As a franchise, Star Trek has drawn upon real history for its narratives and influenced space history through its depictions of a possible future. In this educational panel program, four presenters offered brief, compelling insights into how relevant Star Trek is today.