One Giant Leap For Mankind

Commander Charlie Tucker and Ensign Hoshi Sato of Enterprise NX-01

The first episode of Enterprise finally reveals how, in 2151, the SS Enterprise became the first Earth vessel to venture into Deep Space. But what events led to this great adventure? Here, we look to the other Star Trek series, and to the novels, for a history of the next 150 years...

by Anthony Brown

Selected from
Starburst Special #49

History, they say, is written by the winners. The history of the birth of Starfleet seems to have been written, and rewritten, by everyone. The documents and video logs available contradict each other many times over, and some of the earlier documents are unsure even as to when the voyages of the great Captain Kirk's USS Enterprise took place. According to the visual records, Tralane, the so-called Squire of Gothos believed that it was 900 years since the 18th Century [The Original Series: The Squire of Gothos], while many written records place Kirk's explorations at the start of the 22nd Century, whereas it now seems certain they took place between 2264 and 2269 [The Star Trek Encyclopaedia; TNG: The Neutral Zone].

Most scholars assume that these references are simply wrong, but a wild theory suggests that Kirk's voyages did originally occur around 2206, until the legendary 'Great Bird of the Galaxy' altered the timestream, causing the rise of the Federation to take place over a much longer period, which delayed Kirk's explorations until the 2260s.

All sources agree though, that modern history began with the Eugenics Wars. In 1993, a group of genetically-engineered supermen took power almost simultaneously in more than 40 nations, but soon squabbled among themselves. [TOS: Space Seed] These supermen had been bred by the Chrysalis project of Dr Sarina Kaur during the early 1970s, and the most prominent and successful of them was her own son, Khan Noonian Singh, who ruled an empire stretching from Asia to the Middle East until his overthrow in 1996. Though Khan had been influenced by his mother's own megalomaniacal behaviour and was an absolute dictator, he believed he was working to protect humanity from itself.

He saw himself as a force for good, leading mankind away from the kind of horrors he'd experienced as a Sikh living in India during the aftermath of President Indira Gandhi's assassination [BOOK: The Eugenics Wars, 2001]. For four years he managed to rule without massacres, winning grudging admiration in later centuries, but his subjects has next to no personal freedom. When the wars provoked by other such 'supermen' caused the rest of humanity to rise against them, Khan was toppled, and managed to escape Earth with 90 of his followers in cryogenic suspension aboard a prototype DY colony ship, setting out in search of a planet to make their own. [TOS: Space Seed]

Throughout this time, space exploration continued. Notable unmanned craft included Voyager 6, which disappeared into a black hole late soon after launch in the late 1990s [ST: The Motion Picture] and Nomad, an interstellar probe designed to detect alien life, which was launched in 2002 [TOS: The Changeling]. Manned spaceflight also advanced rapidly, with the fledgling Space Shuttle programme, begun by the prototype orbiter Enterprise, leading to greater things.

Enterprise herself didn't reach space at the time, but as the only orbiter to survive until the 23rd century, she was eventually fitted with impulse engines to make a celebratory flight to mark the 300th anniversary of the first Moon landing in 2269, under the command of Admiral James T Kirk [BOOK Traitor Winds, 1993]...

Scott Bakula reveals all!Scott Bakula, but that's Captain Archer, to you...

How do you feel taking the lead in a major Science Fiction series again?

I like Science Fiction, and I've found some great jobs doing this kind of work. Great acting jobs too, not just any old jobs, but jobs where I got to flex my acting muscles and work real hard. But I think, in terms of scope, Enterprise is going to be a very different challenge to Quantum Leap. This is no easy going, laid-back guy I'm playing now!

In what way?

Well, Archer is much more emotional and much more in other people's space and stuff. He's a real in-your-face kind of a guy, and that's very interesting to play.

Do you still look back fondly on your time on Quantum Leap?

Oh, very much so. I'm still proud of that show. Whenever somebody says they saw an episode, I go "What episode? Tell me about it!"

It's great to have done something that, eight years later, I hear about and I'm still proud of. I think we did a lot of good work. We didn't get a home run every episode, but we did a lot of good ones and it's still got a great following around the world...

More on the history of Star Trek, and more Questions and Answers from Scott Bakula in the full ten-page feature in this issue! Plus: features on Voyager and Deep Space Nine

StarburstImages © Paramount
Feature © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction