|Type:||Prototype warp ship|
|Crew complement:||3 (1 pilot, 2 crew)|
|Speed:||Warp 1 (light speed)|
|Launch of the Phoenix|
- For similarly referenced terms, see Phoenix (disambiguation).
The Phoenix was an Earth spaceship used in the 21st century. She was the first Earth-made manned space craft to achieve warp drive. She is remembered as the ship that instigated the First Contact with Vulcans.
Dr. Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of warp drive, built this warp ship inside a missile complex in Bozeman, Montana. The ship was initially a United States Air Force nuclear missile with a titanium casing. It took Lily Sloane six months to scrounge enough titanium to build the four-meter cockpit of the Phoenix. Dr. Cochrane was the pilot, and Lily Sloane was initially intended to be one of the co-pilots. William Riker and Geordi La Forge (both of the USS Enterprise-E, from 2373), however, served as the crew.
On April 4th 2063, less than 48 hours away from launch, a group of Borg from the 24th century attempted to destroy the Phoenix. They managed to cause significant damage to various sections of the fuselage and the primary intercooler system. The damaged throttle assembly was leaking dangerous levels of theta radiation. There were temperature variations in the fuel manifold, the intermix chamber needed to be reconstructed, and there was a damaged warp plasma conduit that needed to be replaced. All damage was repaired in time for the launch with the help of the crew of the Enterprise, which had pursued the Borg from the future.
On April 5th, around 11 am, the Phoenix was launched. First-stage shutdown and separation were performed in orbit. The nacelles were extended, the warp core and plasma injectors were brought on-line, and the nacelles were charged. It took several seconds to accelerate to critical velocity. Light speed was then achieved by the craft. The second stage of the craft had chemical engines. (Star Trek: First Contact; VOY: "Year of Hell")
The first flight of the Phoenix attracted the attention of a passing Vulcan ship, the T'Plana-Hath, causing the Vulcans to decide to make First Contact. First Contact Day was celebrated annually to commemorate this First Contact between Humans and Vulcans. (VOY: "Homestead")
By the 24th century, the Phoenix was an exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution. Jean-Luc Picard saw the exhibit many times as a boy, but was never allowed to touch it. The blueprints of the Phoenix were available on Federation starships. (Star Trek: First Contact)
The Phoenix is described in virtually all non-canon reference sources as the prototype of warp drive. Dialogue in Star Trek: First Contact and subsequent episodes, however, leave room for the unmanned prototype test of warp drive, prior to the launch of the Phoenix, as described in Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual. If such a test took place, it would have also been in 2063, as this was the year Dr. Cochrane tested his first warp engine. Cochrane described the launch as his "first warp flight" and Kathryn Janeway included Dr. Cochrane in her list of legendary pilots. It is safe to assume this was at least the first manned warp ship of Earth. (ENT: "Regeneration"; VOY: "Friendship One", "Threshold"; Star Trek: First Contact)
The actual "launch vehicle" seen in the silo was an old, deactivated Titan II missile, with a custom capsule fitted over the original nose cone.
According to the non-canon Star Trek Fact Files and the Star Trek Encyclopedia, the missile type of the Phoenix launch vehicle was a "Titan V" nuclear missile. However, the Titan 5 was not a missile; it was a three-engine payload rocket which launched from a launchpad, not a silo.
At one point during the writing of First Contact, the writers of the film considered what might power the matter-antimatter reaction chamber aboard the Phoenix, in lieu of dilithium crystals. Co-writer Ronald D. Moore later recalled, "We had talked about it being from something modified from the thermonuclear warhead – that somehow setting off the fission reaction was what kicked it off." (Star Trek Monthly issue 45, p. 46)
Footage of the Phoenix from First Contact was reused in the title sequence for Star Trek: Enterprise.