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Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology.jpg

Cover image

Author(s): Stanley and Fred Goldstein
Illustrator(s): Rick Sternbach
Publisher: Wallaby Books
Phoebus (UK)
Published: 24 December 1979
Pages: 192
64 (UK)
Reference(s): ISBN 0671790897 (both editions)

The Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology is a reference book which catalogs mankind's technological endeavors into space, spanning the period from the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, to the events depicted in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the technology developed along the way. As such, it is a mixture of real-world events up until the space shuttle in 1980, and conjectural events afterwards, some of which depicted or referenced to during the run of Star Trek: The Original Series.

The book's timeline and illustrations are now considered by most to be outside of canon, as they have been contradicted by information presented since its publication, both by real world events and events depicted or referred to in subsequent Star Trek productions, starting with TNG Season 1.

As the primary source available at the time, it was used as a model for FASA's role-playing games and several novels of the era. It was also used on occasion as reference by the writers of The Next Generation in the very early stages of that series, before being abandoned as a source altogether.

In addition to newly-created starships found only within this volume, the chronology offered specifications for canonically established vessels such as the USS Enterprise (XCV 330) and DY-100 class.

An abridged UK edition, entitled Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology 1980-2188 was published the same year by publishing house Phoebus.


From the book jacket (US)
The stars beckon... man responds! The human adventure is just beginning!
The publication of this book initiates an exciting and necessary project: to provide Star Fleet Academy Cadets with a concise illustrated history of their home planets, spaceflight, evolution and development.
So, Cadets from Earth, welcome to the history of your planet's two and a half illustrious centuries in space – years filled with extraordinary achievement, darkened by great tragedy, marked by countless marvels and perils. The future will be made by you who read this chronology.
Learn the past to make the future.
Live long and prosper!
From the book jacket (UK)
The Spaceflight Chronology - abridged from a much greater work - has been compiled to provide Star Fleet Academy Cadets with a concise, illustrated history of their home planet's spaceflight evolution and technical development. It covers two centuries, starting with the first Space Shuttle flights in 1980 and ending with the heavy cruiser Constitution class star ships in 2188. More than 100 spacecrafts are featured; these include the Icarus which, in 2048, made Earth's first contact with the Alpha Centauri civilization and the King Charles, the most luxurious starliner ever built.
Henceforth, freshman Cadets of planet Earth and eventually freshman Cadets from Vulcan, Rigel, Alpha Centauri, Tellar and Andor, should include Spaceflight Chronology on their essential reading list.

Excerpts of copyrighted sources are included for review purposes only, without any intention of infringement.


When it was published, The Spaceflight Chronology was only the second officially-licensed reference book intended for publication to the general public that delved into the history of the Star Trek universe from an in-universe perspective (the first one being Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual) and the first chronology. Due to its very nature, it is doubtful that it was ever, even behind the scenes, considered "canon" (for example, while not known for sure at the time, the commissioning of the Constitution-class was projected in 2188 in the book, missing the point by about sixty years, as established since then).

Though information provided during the original run of TOS has been incorporated into the book, none provided during the run of Star Trek: The Animated Series (most notably the episode "The Time Trap") has, as this series was considered non-canon at the time. This was especially evident when it came to the treatise on the Bonaventure-type. The depiction in the animated series was utterly disregarded and a brand-new, more "archaic" looking design was introduced instead. Apparently, later Star Trek production staffers came to agree with the authors' take on the revised design when a display model of the Bonaventure was featured in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes "The Nagus", "In the Hands of the Prophets", and "Cardassians". That model carried more than a passing resemblance to the one presented in the book.

While The Spaceflight Chronology paid homage to the references provided in TOS, reciprocally, very few of their creations were embedded into official Star Trek lore. Apart from the reference to the Bonaventure, another reference that made it into canon was the subtle reference in "Up The Long Ladder", where an okudagram depicting the SS Mariposa, a member of the DY-500-class, was featured. While referenced to in Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission (page 85) as being a homage to the DY-100 class of the original series, the DY-500 class designation had been already used in The Spaceflight Chronology, and Okuda's interpretation was such a very close approximation of the one depicted in that book, that a homage to that work should be considered the most likely explanation. Some star charts (pages 77, 95, 115, 133 and 151) and two depictions of alien lifeforms (pages 46 and 96), originating from the book, made it onto screen as computer readouts in first season episodes of TNG: "The Naked Now", "The Last Outpost", "Datalore". [1]

In 2011, authors Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore paid another homage to The Spaceflight Chronology as they attempted to update the Chronology with insight garnered since its publications. They wrote a ten-page article that consisted of sections written in the style of The Spaceflight Chronology which incorporated updated material, canonically established in the Star Trek franchise since then. Their homage has been published in Star Trek Magazine issue 162, pages 62-73.


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