Scientists, in June of 2063, discovered the existence of the substrate within which our universe exists. A domain outside normal three-dimensional space, they named this place "subspace". They found that certain energetic reactions could create an intrusion of this domain into our own space, locally altering the behavior of all forms of matter and energy within our space-time. They called this intrusion a "subspace displacement field" or simply a "subspace field". With subspace being a continuum with different physical laws than our own, subspace fields had the capability of "warping" the space-time continuum. Subspace was also found to provide an additional electromagnetic polarization plane perpendicular to the planes in normal space which could be used for the transmission of particles. This led scientists all over the world to foresee the advent of faster than light communications.
While a doctoral physics student at California Institute of Technology in January of 2064, a young man named Zefram Cochrane studied the theories of physicists such as Miguel Alcubierre and Richard Obousy and first postulated that a spaceship could use subspace fields projected by a series of coils to warp the fabric of space and that ship could use the warp to propel it faster than light. This drive would work by contracting space-time in front of the ship and expanding space-time behind it. The starship itself would rests in a "warp bubble" between the two space-time distortions. This warped space, together with the region between it, would accelerate off faster than the speed of light and the vessel would then essentially 'surf' on the wave in space-time created by this distortion.
Travel at velocities exceeding the speed of light would be possible in this fashion because the starship would be, strictly speaking, stationary (relative to the space of its warp bubble) while space-time itself would be moving. Since it is the space around a ship that would be moving and the starship would not actually be accelerating, it would experience no time dilation, allowing the passage of time inside the vessel to be the same as that outside it.
In February of 2066, interplanetary probes charting and surveying a variety of geological features on the solar system's outer planets discovered three new minerals. The first two were named "polysilicate verterium" and "monocrystal cortenum." The third was a new kind of shocked quartz with a lattice structure similar to lithium. It was found on Jupiter's fifth moon, Amalthea. This new substance was dubbed "dilithium," and samples were sent to the world's leading researchers to analyze it for potential benefits. Once on Earth, it was discovered that this new element has the ability to "transtate" and focus energy. Bids flew in from the scientific community to get their hands on the unique new material. But it was Zefram Cochrane, working in seclusion at his Alabama reservation, who made the biggest breakthrough of all.
Dr. Cochrane began experimenting with the properties of dilithium, particularly after witnessing first hand initial experiments by a scientist named Igi Yamora at the University of Tokyo that proved that dilithium had the ability to resist antimatter bombardment. In 2070, he finally found a way to power his continuum distortion propulsion, or "warp drive," as he had taken to calling it. In his private lab in an abandoned nuclear missile silo near Enterprise, Alabama, he came to the conclusion that the only power source known to humans that could power such a drive system was a reactor employing the controlled mixture of matter and antimatter. Such a reaction, when regulated by dilithium crystals, would create a high-energy plasma that fed directly into "warp coils" made of "verterium cortenide", which is a composite material composed of polysilicate verterium and monocrystal cortenum. When this material is energized, it would cause the energy frequencies in the plasma to shift into subspace, generating multilayered subspace fields Cochrane called "warp fields" that would form a "subspace bubble" that envelops a spacecraft. The craft could cross the light-speed barrier by manipulating these fields to warp the geometry of space-time immediately around it.
Most "reputable" scientists dismissed Cochrane's theories as science fiction. A billionaire philanthropist named Micah Brack, however, took great interest in the project. He introduced Cochrane to an astronautical engineer named Lily Sloane in 2073 and the two began to confer on how to design a space vessel equipped with Cochrane's warp drive. In December of 2076, Cochrane and Sloane finished designing their prototype warp ship dubbed the Phoenix. Sloane hoped the warp drive would raise humanity out of the ashes of World War III, so she picked that name. Sloane and Cochrane set out to scrounge for materials to build the Phoenix. Micah Brack secretly arranged for Cochrane and Sloane to get just enough funding to construct a prototype warp ship. He also donated a few high-quality dilithium crystals and a magnetic bottle containing antimatter to the project.
Cochrane and Sloane, along with a growing group of Enterprise locals helping with the project, finished assembling the Phoenix using the frame of an old nuclear missile in February of 2078. They planned to launch the Phoenix in early April. On April 5, 2078, at 11:08 A.M. Zefram Cochrane became the first human to travel faster than light when he engaged the warp drive of the Phoenix. The T'Plana-Hath, a nearby Vulcan survey vessel passing the outer rim of the system detected the warp signature of the Phoenix via subspace monitoring techniques. After much debate and some consultation with the Vulcan High Command, Captain T'Pol of the T'Plana-Hath ordered the ship to change course and land on Earth.
At 7:43 that night, the T'Plana-Hath landed near the missile complex in Alabama and a small contingent of Humans and Vulcans came together to exchange greetings, resulting in humanity's first official contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. The next day, the governments of Earth went into an uproar with the revelation that an alien ship landed in the United States. It was demanded that the Vulcan crew meet with the New United Nation's Security Council. Commander T'Pol addressed the Security Council at the organization's headquarters in Glasgow on April 8. She described her people as a peaceful and logical race and vowed to help Earth as it emerges as a new member of the interstellar community.
The Vulcan High Command was not enthusiastic about T'Pol's address to the Humans. They had reviewed the historical records of Earth's Third World War and were concerned about the repercussions of letting such an "aggressive" species loose upon the galaxy. A decision was made to monitor and control the progress of Human space exploration and expansion. The Sol System was so richly endowed with dilithium on the crystalline outer planets that it was one contributing and secret factor as to why the Vulcans became so interested in Earth affairs. Soon Earth and Vulcan became firm affiliates in trade and commerce. Artificial gravity technology was the first thing to be collectively bought from the Vulcans by the governments of Earth.
Among several scientific revelations the Vulcans soon shared with humanity was the concept of "warp factors", a non-linear measure of the speed of a starship or signal using a warp drive. The Vulcans told them that warp factors are, in terms of their light speed equivalents, not absolute, but only relative figures. Depending on the local properties of space and subspace, the multiples are only minimum/average values under "normal" conditions. The actual values of warp speed are dependent upon interstellar conditions like gas density, electric and magnetic fields and fluctuations in the subspace domain as well as energy penalties resulting from quantum drag forces and power oscillation inefficiencies.
The Vulcans revealed that there are regions of space where a starship can travel at speeds significantly higher than normal. These regions can consist of broad areas encompassing a number of whole star systems, or narrow corridors that can extend for many thousands of light years. Human scientists nicknamed these places "warp highways". The effect of warp highways is to multiply the speed associated with any given warp factor. They allow the journey time across known space to be cut from years or even decades down to a matter of days. The Vulcans also revealed that whilst some regions of space have a speed multiplier, there are also regions where the speed value is decreased. These regions, which are commonly nicknamed "warp shallows", are generally more common than warp highways and tend to cover a larger area. Warp shallows can be caused by a variety of phenomena.
Humanity also learned about the likelihood of other sentient races and habitable planets. There is a slowly expanding region of stars approximately twenty-five thousand light years from the core of the Milky Way galaxy were all the "good planets" are. This is the galactic habitable zone. Much to the surprise of human biologists, astronomers and astrophysicists; intelligent life is not uncommon in the habitable zone. The Vulcan Science Directorate had estimated a mathematical probability that one out of every 43,000 planets in the galaxy supports intelligent life forms. What is most amazing is the apparent parallel evolution of sentient life forms with a bilaterally symmetrical bipedal form with an upright posture, two arms, hands, feet, one thorax, a neck, and a head with a brain located in it. This is the physical form of most sentient species. Furthermore, all known "humanoid" life has a similar genetic pattern.
On August 15, the space agencies that survived the Third World War combined to form the United Earth Space Probe Agency. The organization's mandate from the start was to explore and chart the more promising star systems close to Earth with the intention of investigating colonization potential. Zefram Cochrane was named to the Board of Directors. Due to the spectacular success of Cochrane's use of dilithium ore, the Deep Space Mining Corps was established in 2079. Its mission was to oversee the mining of the precious dilithium from the outer planets. A year after the Mining Corps was formed; the UESPA launched the SS Valiant. The ship's warp drive was designed and built by Zefram Cochrane.
Two years after that, the UESPA, deciding to attempt to contact distant civilizations, launched the warp-powered space probe Friendship One. The probe was loaded with a message of peace; instructions on how to create antimatter technology and how to build a warp drive along with an open invitation to visit Earth. The Vulcans were opposed to the launch, saying that it was extremely reckless. That same year, the UESPA launched the SS Conestoga from Earth to colonize a planet 20 light years away from Earth dubbed Terra Nova. The Conestoga's warp engine was designed by Zefram Cochrane.
In the fall of 2083, the Valiant, after wandering in space for three years, fell through an unstable wormhole. UESPA controllers on Earth lost contact with the ship, and the Vulcans were unwilling to send an expedition to locate the Valiant.
In 2093, the Conestoga arrived at Terra Nova, where its colonists began to settle the planet. The Conestoga herself was dismantled to construct the habitats for the colonists. After the colonists had been there for five years, the UESPA planned on sending another 200 colonists to Terra Nova, but the colonists objected. There were a few angry messages sent back and forth until one day contact was mysteriously lost. Due to the fact that a trip there would take nine years there and nine years back, the UESPA decided not to send a vessel to find out what happened. Although a Vulcan ship could have made the journey in far less time, the space agency did not ask them for help because it was thought that asking favors of the Vulcans usually ended up carrying too high a price.
Zefram Cochrane successfully tested the Warp 1.5 engine on his test ship Phoenix II on March 17, 2105. The engine well surpassed his expectations by traveling at Warp 1.8. This meant that humanity was close to breaking Warp 2, a velocity that according to the Vulcans was a milestone in warp travel for most species. It took the Vulcans themselves a century to break the so-called "Warp 2 Barrier." Cochrane later led an expedition to Alpha Centauri in 2109. He would eventually take up residence there.
The Earth Cargo Authority was chartered on December 13, 2110 to facilitate trade ships leaving Earth for the outer colonies and the new alien worlds that had made contact with Earth. The crew of these ships would eventually spend years traveling from one planet to another with whole generations of these "space boomers" growing up in space, and the ownership of ships would often be passed down family lines.
The United Federation of Earth was officially chartered in San Francisco on January 4 of 2128. Every nation on Earth joined the new global government. The United Earth Space Probe Agency, formerly a private organization, agreed to become a government entity in exchange for the added funding.
In April of 2134, the UESPA opened the Warp Five Complex on Earth to develop a faster means of propulsion. Zefram Cochrane was on hand for the dedication, stating that the starships that would be developed there would allow humanity "to boldly go where no human has gone before." Later that year Cochrane left his home at the Alpha Centauri colony aboard his ship Phoenix III and disappeared in space soon after, with official records listing him as missing and presumed dead.
On October 9, 2149, the Federation, in an attempt to broaden the powers of their space forces, created an organization called Starfleet. Using a massive complex in San Francisco as headquarters, Starfleet maintained the UESPA's mission of exploration, but took on the added duty of patrolling Earth trade routes and colonies in order to provide assistance as required to Earth colonies and vessels as well as to enforce statutes affecting commerce ships. Starfleet isn't exactly a military; it is designed to be more like a space-based version of the old United States Coast Guard. The Starfleet charter officially designates Starfleet as "a peacekeeping and exploratory armada" with its primary mandate being "interstellar exploration and investigation in order to expand the body of human knowledge." The UESPA became an ancillary arm of Starfleet, usually operating only research vessels and probes.
Starfleet, in cooperation with the Warp Five Complex, began the "Naval Construction Contract Project" in 2157. The goal was to test out the Warp 5 engine designed by the Dr. Richard Daystrom. Eventually, the working Warp 5 engine would be used on Earth's first "starship" to be dubbed Enterprise, in honor of the site of humanity's first alien contact.
On March 9, 2158, Starfleet Lieutenant Commander Christopher Pike piloted the NCC-Alpha past Warp 2 and peaked at Warp 2.2 before the test ship broke apart. Pike became the first human to travel at that speed in a human-built spacecraft and the first human to eject in an escape pod at warp. In an unplanned flight on March 11, Lieutenant Commander Pike and Lieutenant James Tiberius Kirk piloted the NCC-Beta up to Warp 2.5. The spacecraft held together and returned to Earth. Under strong recommendation from the Vulcan High Command, Starfleet Command ordered all the NCC prototypes to be grounded until further tests could be run. As a special commendation for their groundbreaking achievement, Pike and Kirk were promoted to the respective ranks of Captain and Commander, both of them skipping a rank.
With the NCC-Project on indefinite hold, Starfleet opted to begin work on an interim class of ship on October 12 of that year. The first ship of the NX-class, dubbed Reliant, was due to launch in four years.
In 2159, the Vulcan Science Directorate finally admitted that Dr. Daystrom's engine design would work and the NCC-Project resumed on June 4 of that year. Commander Matthew Decker piloted NCC-Gamma to Warp 2.5 on June 11 to duplicate Pike and Kirk's flight before work was started to go past Warp 3. Commander Robert April broke Warp 3 in the NCC-Delta test ship on December 19. Convinced that Richard Daystrom's design would work in a full-scale ship, Starfleet and the Vulcans authorized the construction of the USS Enterprise NCC-01.
Starfleet launched the Reliant under the command of Captain Clark Terrell on March 21, 2162. The NX-class ship had many design features that would be used and improved upon in the much larger NCC-class. The ship was capable of traveling past Warp 3. The next two ships, Intrepid and Defiant, were scheduled for launch before Enterprise.
On September 19, 2165 Starfleet selected newly-promoted Captain James T. Kirk to command Enterprise. Because Captain Kirk is the son of Admiral George Kirk, the Chief of Starfleet Tactical, there were several accusations of nepotism in selecting him; especially in light of the fact that Kirk was only 34 years old, the youngest captain in Starfleet. But Starfleet Command said that Kirk's service record made him the ideal choice.
While en-route back to the Andorian Empire with top-secret information in April of 2166, a colonel named Thy'lek Shran noticed that a very small Klingon ship was following him. He plotted a course towards Earth's solar system to lose the Klingons, however the Klingon pursuit ship forced down Shran's ship. He crashed in Bozeman, Montana on Earth, where he managed to kill the two Klingons that chased him, but was seriously wounded by a local farmer's plasma weapon.
James Kirk persuaded Starfleet and the Vulcans to allow the almost completed Enterprise to take Shran back to Andoria. The Vulcans ordered Subcommander Spock to accompany Enterprise as both a science officer and an observer in exchange for star charts. Spock is a genetically engineered hybrid, his father being Vulcan diplomat Sarek and his mother being Human diplomat Amanda Grayson. Commander Leonard McCoy, a trauma surgeon at Starfleet Medical Academy, joined the crew as the ship's chief medical officer. The senior officers also included chief engineer Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott, senior communications officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, navigator and chief helmsman Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, chief of security Lieutenant Pavel Chekov, assistant chief medical officer Lieutenant Christine Chapel, and captain's aide Ensign Janice Rand.
On April 13, 2166, the USS Enterprise NCC-01 was launched from Earth orbit under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. After several detours and a death-defying battle with a Klingon warbird, the Enterprise arrived at Andoria on April 23 to deliver Shran. The Enterprise took advantage of a warp highway that allowed the ship to reach the Andorian system in only a few solar days and it was the Vulcans' star charts that showed Enterprise the whereabouts of this shortcut.
During this first adventure of the Starship Enterprise, the command crew became aware of what Shran's secret information was. The Andorian Imperial Guard had discovered a lost city on an uncharted world, over a million years old. The race that built it was a race long sought after by numerous civilized worlds for the tremendous advantages they could provide. This was a race that whose secrets could elevate humanity to unparalleled levels...a race that have left its footprints on countless worlds where its touch had changed evolution and led to the unnatural abundance of sentient species in the galaxy. A race, long thought dead by most, but which both the Federation Council and the Vulcan High Command believes is still out there somewhere.
The most amazing thing was apparently the Vulcan Science Directorate had discovered that buried deep within the DNA of humans, Vulcans, Andorians, Klingons and other intelligent bipedal races is a mathematical code, something buried so deep and of such complexity that it could not possibly have occurred by chance. Someone or something put it there—an "artist's signature" perhaps. Starfleet Command revealed this information to Captain Kirk and gave him a "Prime Directive", something Kirk and the rest of the senior officers have to keep secret even from the rest of the crew. This Prime Directive states simply that it is the mission of the Enterprise to do whatever is necessary to find this long-lost race, and discover the truth about the common origin of all life forms everywhere, the truth that will unite a galaxy. However, there are others out there, also searching for this race...forces of darkness who may view humanity's activities with more than a little hostility.
And so, the Starship Enterprise then officially began her pioneering five year mission to "seek out new worlds, and new civilizations...to boldly go where no human has gone before."