There’s a long running joke on the 2 Young 4 This Trek podcast about how I have an unhealthy obsession with starship nacelles. While this is only partly true, it did get me thinking about that sleek, classy Federation design. So without further ado, here’s my Top 10 “Sexiest” Nacelles in Star Trek!
10. USS EXCELSIOR (NX-2000)
The coolest thing about the USS Excelsior (despite being an experimental trans-warp ship) is that it’s design aesthetic bridges the gap between the TOS movie era and TNG. It’s still slick, but it’s bulkier than the classic Enterprise. It’s enough to make Sulu say “Oh my!”
9. USS VOYAGER (NCC-74656)
Starship Class: Intrepid
Captain: Katherine Janeway
Years Active: 2371 – 2378
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
The USS Voyager is one tough mistress. After getting lost in space for several years, she managed to make it back to Earth in one piece, with barely a scratch! Helmed by Captain Katherine “I like my coffee tall, dark and hot” Janeway – she’s equipped with reaction control thrusters, flexible nacelles, a bio-neural computer network, a cargo bay large enough for at least 25 shuttles, and not one, but *two* holodecks! Oh and this starship will even go down on planets…
8. USS ENTERPRISE D (NCC-1701D)
Starship Class: Galaxy
Captain: Jean Luc Picard
Years Active: 2363 – 2371
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Generations
The Enterprise D is classic, it’s iconic – that huge oval shaped saucer, those curves, that suggestive deflector dish, and of course, those lipstick-shaped nacelles. With a crew complement of around 2,000 – she’s a big lady who makes her presence felt across the Quadrant. There’s also a reason why the D is nicknamed the “Love Boat in Space”…
Honorable Mention: And we can’t talk about the D without at least mentioning the alternate refit version from the future as seen in “All Good Things”, because 3 nacelles are better than 2…
7. USS KELVIN (NCC-0514)
Starship Class: Kelvin
Captain: Richard Robau, George Kirk (for 12 minutes)
Years Active: 2233
Series: Star Trek (2009)
The USS Kelvin is one of the only Starfleet ships with a single nacelle, but man does that one nacelle count for a lot. Probably the most unique-looking Federation ship in Star Trek. Overall I’m a fan of the Kelvin-verse designs, but this is where it all begins. It’s just too bad we didn’t get to spend more time with her. Plus, it was briefly commanded by Kirk’s daddy, Chris Hemsworth, so that has to give it some extra points on the sexy scale, right?
Honorable Mention: The Kelvin-verse USS Enterprise was also a really great alternative take on Kirk’s ship, which made it feel like TOS with a budget – speaking of…
6. USS ENTERPRISE (NCC-1701)
The original, the one that started it all, no bloody A, B, C or D – we’re talking *The* USS Enterprise. This is the highwater mark of retro-futurism and I’d argue that Matt Jefferies classic design still holds up today. And she’s not just good looking, she’s tough too! She was such a hardy starship in fact that she was in service for 40 years! There’s a reason that this ship was the true love of Kirk’s life.
Honorable Mention: Star Trek: Discovery also did a great job with their modernized take on this classic ship without reinventing the wheel.
5. ENTERPRISE (NX-01)
Starship Class: NX-Class
Captain: Johnathan Archer
Years Active: 2151 – 2161
The first Warp 5 capable ship in Starfleet history! This awesome design combines elements of the classic TOS nacelles with more modern NASA-esque sensibilities. The NX-01 makes the future that much more tangible. Enterprise has a small and compact frame that begs to be explored. She might be inexperienced, but she’ll never say no to an adventure. (And that’s not to mention all those steamy decon sessions between Trip and T’Pol.)
4. USS ENTERPRISE E (NCC-1701E)
Starship Class: Sovereign
Captain: Jean Luc Picard
Years Active: 2373 – 2387
Series: Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: Nemesis
The Enterprise-E is what happens when Jean Luc Picard has a mid-life crisis. It’s a faster, sleeker, and more cinematic version of the D! It’s got the charisma of a sports car and even gives the Borg a run for their money. It’s not just fast, it’s also packed to the brim with armaments, and even has an eject-able warp core! The Enterprise E is one of the coolest damn ships in science fiction, but there’s just a few on this list that top it.
3. USS RELIANT (NCC-1864)
Starship Class: Miranda
Captain: Khan Noonien Singh (Hijacked), Clark Terrell (Killed in Action)
Years Active: 2267 – 2285
Series: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The Reliant is basically an inverted version of the Enterprise – a dark reflection, to further symbolize the two sides of the coin that Kirk and Khan represent. Whatever you do though, don’t underestimate her – she’s small, but she packs a punch! (Dat saucer tho)
2. USS ENTERPRISE A (NCC-1701A)
Starship Class: Constitution Refit
Captain: James T. Kirk, Spock
Years Active: 2286 – 2293
Series: Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
The Enterprise-A (or the USS Enterprise refit because it’s basically the same design) is gorgeous. From that blue ethereal glow from her deflector dish to those black and white nacelles. She’s both beautiful and imposing. The silhouette alone is iconic! There’s just something about that crisp sleek design that I can’t get enough of…
1. USS DISCOVERY (NCC-1031)
Starship Class: Crossfield
Captain: Gabriel Lorca, Christopher Pike, Saru, Michael Burnham
Years Active: 2256 – 2258 / 3189
Series: Star Trek: Discovery
I don’t care what anyone says, I love the design of the USS Discovery. As cool as the Shenzhou was, it wasn’t until Episode 3 when we were introduced to the Disco that I truly fell head over heels for this show. A radical redesign of Ralph McQuarrie’s “Planet of the Titans” concept art, that pushes Trek into the 21st century. This one of a kind (RIP USS Glenn) experimental Crossfield class starship has one of the boldest looks since the franchise began: It’s got a rotating saucer, a massive shuttle bay, a spore drive, a slick bronze sheen, and those extra long, super sleek nacelles jutting out for all to see! And while I’m still warming up to the Tron-inspired ultra-futuristic dethatched-nacelles of the 32nd Century Discovery-A refit (from Season 3), it still retains the elements of what makes this ship so awesome!
Honorable Mentions: USS Franklin (NX-326), USS Vengeance (Dreadnought Class), ISS Enterprise (NX-01), USS Enterprise D refit (“All Good Things”), USS Zheng He, Enterprise-C, USS Voyager-J, the Akira Class, the Phoenix, and whatever the heck this thing is.… soooooo many nacelles!
Do you agree with my list? What are your favorite Trek starship designs? Let us know in the comments below!