It must have been so strange. At 8:30pm on September 8th, 1966, television viewers in the United States were introduced to a curious object flying in from stage left, clad in muted whites, greys, and reds. The starship Enterprise, as conceived by Gene Roddenberry and designed by Matt Jefferies, would quickly become an icon of not only “Star Trek”, but also science fiction and escapism, with familiar shapes brought together to create a refreshing and innovative design unlike anything previously seen.
Science fiction films set in space were plentiful in the first half of the 20th century, from Georges Méliès' “Le Voyage dans la Lune” (“A Trip to the Moon”) in 1902 to 1950's “Rocketship XM”, and for the most part, the spaceships that followed had similar patterns. Movies, television, and pulp novels and magazines displayed images of flying saucers, rockets, and cigar-shaped objects before the American imagination was captivated in the late 1940s by apparent sightings of these objects. Flash Gordon, for example, visited the planet Mongo in a rocket, while Gort and Klaatu in The Day The Earth Stood Still visited us in a flying saucer.
“Star Trek” creator Roddenberry was adamant that the Enterprise not be anything like a rocket. He wanted a believable, unique design that was based somewhat on existing science, and how that might evolve in the future in the show's 23rd Century…
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