First Look At J.J. Abrams’ New USS Enterprise

Published 6 years ago by , Updated November 11th, 2008 at 9:49 pm,

new enterprise first look First Look At J.J. Abrams New USS Enterprise

Thanks to Entertainment Weekly, you are looking at the first full image of the redesigned USS Enterprise from the new Star Trek movie (you can head over there for a larger version).

As a long time Star Trek fan, whose favorite series is the original, my from-the-gut reaction when I first came across this was:

That is one ugly ship.

Here is what J.J. Abrams had to say in regards to the new design vs the original:

“If you’re going to do Star Trek there are many things you cannot change. The Enterprise is a visual touchstone for so many people. So if you’re going to do the Enterprise, it better look like the Enterprise, because otherwise, what are you doing?”

I don’t know… maybe it’ll grow on me or it will look awesome while in flight on the big screen, but at the moment it’s not doing it for me. While he went pretty “classic” with the saucer section (that’s “primary hull” for the Star Trek fans out there) the connecting pylon and the secondary (lower) hull just look… incongruous.

If I had to pick one word that comes to mind when I look at that image, it would be:


You know, that stretchy carnival candy? You get it warmed up and then you can pull on it and it stretches and thins? That’s what the secondary hull and the nacelles look like to me. The lower hull looks like it was molded out of clay, rolled between two hands and rolled narrower at one end.

Almost exactly one year ago I wrote a speculative post asking “How radical is the USS Enterprise Redesign?

Pretty damned radical, it seems.

Here are some comparative images from that post to help put things in perspective:

The Original USS Enterprise NCC-1701
compare ncc 1701 First Look At J.J. Abrams New USS Enterprise

JJ Abrams’ Redesigned USS Enterprise NCC-1701
new enterprise flipped First Look At J.J. Abrams New USS Enterprise

The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A
compare ncc 1701 a First Look At J.J. Abrams New USS Enterprise

Tell me the new design doesn’t look like the movie Enterprise saucer section tacked onto some completely different alien ship.

In another post, I tried to guess how a redesign of the Enterprise might equate to the modern trend of doing design updates of classic cars. As it turns out, I think my 1960s to 21st century Camaro comparison turned out to be the closest in design ideology:

Classic Camaro
60s camaro First Look At J.J. Abrams New USS Enterprise

Modern Camaro
new camaro First Look At J.J. Abrams New USS Enterprise

At the time I wrote:

“Let me say that I think the new Camaro is really, REALLY hot and from a design standpoint pays homage to the classic version, but that degree of change for the Enterprise would be completely unacceptable.”

Oh well.

Or… is it just me? Do I need to give it time to sink in and see it in action? I’d like to hear opinions from both Star Trek fans and non-fans.

[UPDATE: Thanks to "Spockboy" check out this minor change to the design via Photoshop that makes the new NCC-1701 look FAR better by adding some bulk to the lower part of the ship.]

enterprise new First Look At J.J. Abrams New USS Enterprise

Star Trek opens on May 8, 2009.

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  1. @ atseyes:

    Glad I could brighten your cloudy day, ‘Eyes; yes, I have been called something very close to that – usually it’s just two words – ‘cynical bastard’, lol!

    I admit, I have a hard time buying into human motives when it concernes making money, but not in humans’ ability to survive & make the most out of life through problem solving.

    For all my cynicism, I can honestly tell you that it would’ve deteriorated into full-blown depression if not for that Franchise.

    Seriously, for all the inspiring words that have come down thru’ history from real, live people – Edmund Burke on the triumph of evil over the complacency of good men, Bertram Russell on the ultimate prevalence of mankind as a function of survival, even Lincoln on the better angels of our nature – the words that have given me the most comfort & hope for the future, even after we here now are long gone, came from James Tiberius Kirk, spoken to an alien on the meaning of our people:

    “We are of a race born to strive. We cannot grow, or even survive, without the challenge of adversity…”

    I am glad I could make you smile, but this movie DOES have meaning…

    But then. yo already knew that, didn’t you?


  2. Just curious … I didn’t read all the comments, but given that this movie is based on an alternative timeline, how could we expect the ship to look the same at all?

  3. @ Bob D:

    You got that right! We’re lucky the Enterprise doesn’t look like the Protector from ‘Galaxy Quest’…

    Thanx for reminding us to look on the bright side, Bob.


  4. @ All:

    Btw, did any of you ever hear the story of the original struggle Gene Roddenberry had to put up to get the original Jeffries starship design?

    He got a visit from the head of the studio there at Desilu, a bit piqued that Roddenberry was still waiting for Walt Jeffries to finalize the design. He just couldn’t understand what the holdup was.

    “It’s a show about people on a spaceship, right?” he says to Roddenberry. “Well, just take a cigar shape, put some windows on it, and there’s your spaceship! Simple, right?”

    Wrong. Roddenberry had to fight to get Walt Jeffries’ design to be accepted, and that’s why it took so long (1964-’67, also two pilot episodes).

    It could be that we are all being too hard on JJ Abrams – it is possible that his efforts to save the original Enterprise design, to any extent, are nothing less than heroic.

    After all, stupidity, just like anything else, skips a generation, right???


  5. What I really found amazing about the film was the weird new take on the viewscreen sound effects … it has kept me up at night…I want to hear it again! Sounded so alien and yet brought me back to the old series …

  6. @ All:

    Whoops! I meant Matt Jefferies, dunno who the hell Walt Jeffries is, sorry!

    Not to sound like Time Magazine, but as they would say, I regret the error…


  7. @ Steve, Katherine, Fury2701, and my buds Purist & K Bone:

    The ‘Screen Rant Spoiler’ afficitonadoes can now gather at the thread called, simply, ‘Star Trek Review’; Ken & I found our ways there okay, and so can you. Just follow the links to ‘Star Trek Review’, and you’ll land there just fine – if I can find it, anybody can, lol!


  8. I can think of a hundred things that is WRONG with this design, both in and out. The worst of which is the bow legged effect of the nacelle pylons, that are attached to the Hangar Deck, instead of Engineering… who ever came up with this design, did not think of the internal layout and mechanics.

    The technology, through out the ship is inconsistent, from the ultra high-tech Bridge to the “Grain Combine Cylinders” with a Radio-active sign posted on it, in Engineering. Then comes the plexi-glass 19th century water reclamation room. ugh…

    Not to worry, with enough people ranting, they’ll blow it up by the end of the next movie, and replace it with Gabe Koerner’s design, the way it SHOULD have been.

  9. I like Gabe’s design. Let’s hope for the best. Oh, but I’d prefer the design by Dennis Bailey….much more attractive:


  10. @ Joe:

    That IS cool, thanx for sharing that with us.

    Kinda like the transitional design between the TOS ship & the Refit/Ent-A, sorta like what they were gonna do with the series that never happened, ‘Phase II’ – have you ever seen that design? It is almost the Refit, but not quite – with just enough of the TOS original to, you know, connect.

    I did like these pics by this Dennis Bailey guy, very professional. I copied them both for my Pictures file.

    You guys, uh…DO understand that all we saw in TOS is safe in its own timeline, that this new Abrams movie is a BRAND NEW timeline and that there is therefore no connection between the world of TOS ever sice Nero sailed out of that wormhole, right?

    Probably, it was changed back in Bozeman, Montana, as soon as the Ent/E had to follow the Borg Sphere to 2163 and ensure Cochrane’s first contact, if you ask me; that is the origins if the whole ST/Enterprise series with Archer & the NX-01. Love it or hate it, that wouldn’t have happened without First Contact, they had repercussions. That’s how T’Pol, not Spock, became the first Vulcan Executive Officer in Starfleet, get it?

    When Zef Cochrane & Lily Sloane started comparing notes, combined with the earthshaking common knowledge of these aliens called ‘Vulcans’, it changed EVERYTHING!

    On a related Screen Rant thread, there is a guy who wrote a fanciful synopsis of what happened after the Vulcans came & went, having listened to ‘Scooby Doo’ on ol’ Zef’s juke box –

    Apparently, both Cochrane & his assistant Lily became writers (eventually); his was entitled ‘Saucers & Nacelles: The Way to the Future’, by Zefram Cochrane, and Lily’s was called ‘They’re Out There, and They’re NOT Swedish: An Interstellar Call To Arms’, by Lily Sloane.

    Very amusing, I thought!


  11. @ All:

    Come to think of it, I believe the person responsible for the above clever fabrications about Cochrane & Sloane is someone from on here, whom I would like to credit for his cleverness: Brighteyes.

    I’ll see if I can find that post, I found it very enlightening.


  12. Some person stated that the new Enterprise in the film was 725.35 meters long
    twice the size of the old one…Idiot… who ever said that, plus made it comparable in size to Battlestar Galactica if not bigger….what a plonka…!

    If you look at the size of the bridge in the new film and the old films of the late 70's mid 80's they are almost the same size in the top dome..
    Plus the port hole windows around the saucer section are exactly the same as the
    old film ones, I like that, as is the phaser banks on the top and bottom section.
    Plus they kept the self lighting of the hull from the base of the dome section.

    Now if the new ship was twice to three times as big all the details would be smaller and spaced out. In the film when they do cut away shots zooming out of the bridge to the hull you can see yourself it is not to such great scale. even when the shuttles enter the cargo bay and when Kirk is ejected out of the escape pod.

  13. I like that they paid homage to the old film Enterprise on the saucer section not much has changed, they kept the light arrangemets around the saucer, the phaser banks in sets of three groups of two on top and bottom plus the kept the self lighting of the saucer….. great!!!!!
    The engines look like they have been intergrated into the “borg collective” horrible.
    and the main hull, well with the way it has thinned out whats the point of having one
    but it does make it look sleek.
    As one person on this thread said, its like the new and old enterprise had sex and came out with a ugly baby.. well its not that ugly.
    just different….?
    Some idiot said the new ship was 725.35mtrs long almost three times the size of the old one and the film one as bigger that Battlestar Galactica.. ha.ha.ha..
    what an idiot.
    When you see the film and compare the size and equate the scale of people to windows and the shuttle bay and the life pod that Kirk is fired out off, you can see
    it is not that big, it's the same size as the old film, this is justified in the pull out cut away zoom shots as the camera pulls out of the bridge to the out side hull.
    So there you go a mish mash of crap from others, who get it wrong.
    Mind you I love Andy Proberts / Matt Jefferies original designs, and I am happy with it to some extent.
    but the brigde interior is a serious health hazzard, very Apple store.
    the engine room, is a Joke…. err does the ship run on water….??

  14. My biggest problem with the new ship is the nacelles, they look like they came from a cartoon. Matter of fact, the with the bobbed secondary hull and the cartoon nacelles, I just can't take this thing seriously.

  15. My biggest problem with the new ship is the nacelles, they look like they came from a cartoon. Matter of fact, the with the bobbed secondary hull and the cartoon nacelles, I just can't take this thing seriously.

  16. I hate the moonshine eiegines. Give me the old ones.

  17. I have been reading these in the hope that someone will notice that the bridge is one deck too low. Remember the fly in at the beginning of the Cage? If that is really where the bridge is, then it dramatically shrinks the ship.

  18. Star Trek in the Drankess was a very good. Thank Yu, FRANCE’S YOZAWITZ

  19. Things Right with Star Trek 2009 (hereinafter JJ-Trek, as opposed to _real_ Star Trek):
    –Enterprise shuttlecraft is shown to seat 20 passengers, and has seat belts.
    –Enterprise’ shuttlebay holds 20 shuttlecraft. (20 x 20 = 400. Enterprise crew = 430. Coincidence? I think not.)
    –Bruce Greenwood cast as Captain Pike.
    –Green Orion female starfleet cadet introduced en flagrante delicto coitus. With Kirk, of course.
    –Olsen, doomed HALO-jumper incinerated by plasma drill, was wearing a red shirt.
    –Sulu turns out to actually _be_ a swordsman, not just a goofy guy with a D’artagnan fantasy.

    Things _Wrong_ with JJ-Trek:
    Too many by far to list fully. Some tiny samples, then:
    –Kirk (11-year-old joyrider) would have needed The Hulk’s leg muscles to leap to safety from car crashing into quarry at 110 MPH. Or an ejector seat. Or an antigrav belt. Should be dead.
    –Enterprise, a non-aerodynamic ship with no landing gear, shown constructed on ground at bottom of Earth’s gravity well.
    –No gardener named Boothby shown at Starfleet Academy.
    –Redshirts who bludgeoned Kirk nearly to death in bar fight not brought up on charges for aggravated assault against a civilian.
    –All members of Enterprise crew except Pike and Spock are cadets.
    –Uhura is posted to Enterprise by sleeping with her teacher. (Her teacher is Spock, of all people.)
    –Engine room of a metal starship has a concrete floor instead of a metal deck.
    –Kirk not summarily executed by Spock for gross insubordination and attempted mutiny against lawful shipboard authority in time of emergency. Twice in one day.
    –Scotty is handed an equation for Transwarp Beaming that he would have postulated in the late 24th century as an elderly retiree, by Spock-Prime, 175 years ahead of the research and experience that made the equation feasible in the first place.
    –Scotty beams unprepared into a water-filled habitrail, remains trapped within for over 30 seconds, is released moments before being blended like a smoothie, falls 20 feet onto a concrete floor flat on his back, and is neither drowned nor crippled as a result.
    –Scotty ejects the warp core through the ceiling of the engineering deck, and is neither sucked out into space nor explosively decompressed.
    –Enterprise, having rendered its engine inert by dumping its power core into space, is not immediately sucked into the black hole like jello through a straw.
    –Kirk, last seen on Earth in process of being expelled from Starfleet Academy due to gross academic misconduct, is promoted from ungraduated cadet directly to captain of the federation’s flagship, and the movie fails to end with Kirk’s voiced-over words “…and then I woke up.”

  20. Okay, I got a little off-topic with some of the bullet-points in my previous post. I find JJ-Trek in general unpleasant, and (S)TID downright offensive, because they radically altered an historic icon of good storytelling from early American television without need. All JJ & company needed to do was tell a good story that took us somewhere we hadn’t been before. There was no need to radically change the ship, no need to change the technology base, and no need to change the characterizations or relationships. Recasting the actual roles, not a problem. Had to happen eventually. (Shatner & Nimoy aren’t going to last too much longer, the rate they’re decaying, and De Kelley is already dead.) Making the key players into entirely different people from who they were meant to be, however, was uncalled for. But this particular discussion is about the ship, not the characters, so I’ll confine myself.

    My gripes with Enterprise redesign in JJ-Trek:
    –Enterprise was originally built in space for use in space. It had shuttles and transporters because the ship was never supposed to land. If it was built on the ground, then it should be able to take off, or at least be hauled into orbit by tractor beams from the orbiting starbase. So there was no need to waste time in an emergency mobilization boarding the ship in orbit by shuttlecraft. The crew should have simply walked up the ramp onto the ship, then retracted the ramp and closed the doors, and then taken off, uttering a few dialog lines to introduce the concept that the ship maneuvers in an atmosphere and in a 1-G. field by (whatever mechanism now allows it to do so). Absent that exposition, there is no reason for us to assume that the ship should ever be capable of landing.
    –The warp struts tie to the tail of the ship, pushing warp energy past or through its shuttle-bay. This would not only make the shuttlebay hot and uncomfortable in addition to crowded, it would also make the shuttlebay a primary target in combat. One shot to the clamshell doors would not only render over 9/10ths of the crew unable to escape the ship in the event of an order to abandon, it would also immobilize the ship and destabilize the warp core, almost certainly necessitating that order.
    –The warp nacelles are not only the mechanism by which the warp field is generated, they are also the means by which the ship refuels itself. The bubbles on the front of the nacelles are called “Bussard Collectors,” a reference to a physicist of the 1960′s who theorized that interstellar hydrogen could be gathered by layered magnetic fields and channeled into a spaceship’s engine for fusion power. The concept has been used by numerous SF authors, including those who originally wrote the stories that became Star Trek episodes. In the original show (per the Starfleet Technical Manual), free hydrogen would be drawn in while the ship was in motion; some would be used to fuel the impulse engine reactors, and the rest would be put through an improved cyclotron for the purpose of manufacturing antimatter for the warp drive. In the photos above, you can clearly see that both the Constitution-class and Enterprise-class ship’s Bussard Collectors sit _above_ the primary hull. The JJ-class ship’s collectors are directly _behind_ the saucer, and therefore obstructed by it. This design makes no sense.
    –The turbolifts work far too well. Apparently they take no time at all to traverse the length, height, and breadth of the Enterprise from any point “A” to any point “B”. They are apparently, therefore, not elevators capable of moving laterally as well as vertically, as they should be, but internal teleporters, a technology the Federation should not have access to this early in its development.
    –The water-filled habitrail in the engineering section serves no apparent useful function. The water inside of it is uniformly crystal clear, and so it cannot be for waste reclamation. It is not superheated and in need of cooling, because Scotty not only didn’t drown in it (as he should have), he also was not parboiled. Neither was it radioactive, ie, having been used in the spaces between the inner and outer hull layers to soak up cosmic radiation impacting on the ship, because Scotty’s hair failed to fall out and his skin failed to become rapidly necrotic from being submerged in it.
    –The warp-drive mechanism now apparently runs on pressurized steam. In the climactic “running away from the black hole” sequence, Scotty is shown standing next to an overworked pressure mechanism that occasionally vents tiny puffs of steam. So, apparently, Enterprise is now a locomotive, or perhaps a WWII diesel submarine. (Or maybe its engine exhaust now consists of thin, tasteless, inexpensive American beer.)

    My gripes with Enterprise redesign in Trek Into Darkness:
    –All of the above, as well as the following:
    –The “Warp Core” is nothing more than a larger-than-man-sized spark plug in a cavernous, dark chamber filled with (we’re told) lethal radiation. But not so lethal that, once the misaligned core is kicked back into alignment and the warp drive flares back into life, Kirk’s body is instantly vaporized or anything. Also the fact that the core is just sitting there, not screwed in or held with clamps or straps or anything, and that all that is needed to repair it is to apply physical abuse until it starts working again. Tools? Specialized engineering knowledge? Protective clothing? Who needs ‘em?
    –Not only can Enterprise land, it can apparently do so gradually enough to avoid destruction, settle into the ocean, and glide right up beside an erupting volcano without any of the primitive locals ever even noticing its presence. It has none of the mechanisms a submarine uses to manipulate its bouyancy, dive, surface, or maneuver underwater, and yet it can apparently do all these things. And it can apparently do so without leaking even a little bit. (Spaceship designs are not submarine designs. The pressure differential between the vacuum of space and the bottom of an ocean is huge. The hull of a spaceship is designed to keep air in, not water out.) Not to mention that there was never a need to submerge the ship in the first place; being underwater does nothing that remaining in orbit cannot provide, and incurs far less risk.
    –Well, praise the lord and pass the photon torpedoes. At last Enterprise is equipped to fire weapons that do not require dropping out of warp, since the torps are warp-driven themseles. Only, what idiot decided that the torpedoes should fire to port and starboard instead of along the forward and aft axis of the ship (ie, along its likely direction of travel and its inverse)? Tactical displays and diagrams of both the Enterprise and her adversary in depicted TID clearly show the firing tubes arranged along the broad sides of both ships, as though the torpedoes were ball-and-powder cannons aboard sail-driven wet-navy warships. How useful is it ever going to be to have 72 side-firing torpedo tubes aboard a federation starship? Is that the way capital ships in the new timeline do combat? Everything we’ve seen suggest that it is not.

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