The NX Project, also known as the NX Program or NX test program, was Starfleet's effort to develop a starship using the engine designed by the Warp Five program. Prior to the NX Project, Human ships were incapable of exceeding warp two.
During the 22nd century, the Earth Cargo Service was Earth's only real presence in outer space; the crew of these ships would spend years traveling from one planet to another and the Humans with the most space experience were boomers: the first generation of Humans who were born in outer space.
The NX Project was an effort to allow humanity's knowledge to expand and continue space exploration; it was overseen by Commodore Maxwell Forrest from its initial stages in the early 2140s. During this time, the program fielded several test vehicles with prototype versions of the warp five engine. These prototypes were piloted by Commanders Jonathan Archer, A.G. Robinson, Gardner, and Duvall. Captain Jefferies was an engineer on the NX Program, and Lieutenant Charles Tucker III worked on his team.
After some initial progress at speeds below warp 2, the project quickly stalled sometime prior to 2144. Robinson's test flight of the NX-Alpha ended in an explosion after the engines were pushed slightly beyond warp 2. On the recommendation of the Vulcan Advisory Council, the project was indefinitely suspended. However, Lieutenant Tucker and Commander Archer believed the design to be fundamentally sound. Tucker's analysis showed the intermix ratio of the fuel flowing through the antimatter injectors proved to be the root of the problem. Tucker's corrections allowed the NX-Beta – illegally piloted by Archer and Robinson – to enjoy a more successful test flight.
Though their efforts were a contravention of direct orders, Tucker, Archer and Robinson had effectively confirmed the utility of the warp five engine. Nevertheless, the Vulcans required about a year of additional ground-based simulations following the NX-Beta flight. A final test flight, made by Duvall in the NX-Delta, would break the warp 3 barrier eight months after the Vulcan program of simulations concluded. Construction began five years thereafter on the Enterprise NX-01, and it was launched in April of 2151. At that time, another three vessels of the Template:ShipClass were on the drawing board. Forrest was promoted to admiral, and he selected Archer as the ship's commanding officer, over the objections of Vulcan Ambassador Soval, who felt that Gardner would have been a better choice. (ENT: "First Flight", "Broken Bow")
Ships of the NX Program
- The Template:ShipClass of starships
- Mirror universe NX class ships:
- If the NX Project continued to follow the order of the United States of America's space shuttle program, the NX-03 and NX-04 would be named Challenger and Discovery respectively.
- It is somewhat unclear just how long the NX Project remained a unique subdivision of Earth Starfleet. It is possible that the project proper ended after Enterprise was launched. This is perhaps suggested by the disappearance of the NX Project logo after 2151. It is notable the Enterprise crew wore only an Enterprise patch, whereas NX test pilots wore both the project logo and what appeared to be the emblem of their particular vessel on their flight suits. Following that logic, Enterprise crewmembers should have been wearing an NX Project logo, had the project still been regarded as an active subdivision of Starfleet.
- The Pocket ENT novels Kobayashi Maru and Beneath the Raptor's Wing depict the manufacture of four additional NX-class ships, Challenger (NX-03), Discovery (NX-04), Atlantis (NX-05), and Endeavour (NX-06), before the program was shut down in favor of the Daedalus class of starship, which could be built faster and cheaper. The Pocket TNG novel Indistinguishable from Magic introduced the Intrepid (NX-07) and indicated that appropimately 15 or 16 ships of the class were made before the line was discontinued.