What Is Star Trek’s First Contact Day?

Celebrated every year by Star Trek fans all over the world, First Contact Day marks the in-universe anniversary of humanity's first official contact with aliens.

By Michileen Martin | Updated

first contact day star Trek

This week Star Trek fans all over the globe will be celebrating First Contact Day. In case you’re unfamiliar with the holiday, First Contact Day marks Earth’s first official in-universe contact with aliens as depicted in 1996’s Star Trek: First Contact. Much like Star Wars‘ May the 4th, First Contact Day sees Trek fans singing the franchise’s praises online, while Paramount often takes the opportunity to host events and make big announcements during the holiday.

In Star Trek: First Contact, April 5, 2063 is the date when Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) tests humanity’s very first successful warp engine, which captures the attention of nearby Vulcans. Deciding the warp signature means humanity has reached a stage in development that renders them worthy of contact, the Vulcans land in Bozeman, Montana — where Cochrane’s flight begins — to introduce themselves. It’s this meeting that makes the eventual formation of the United Federation of Planets possible.

first contact day star Trek
Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) and a Vulcan (Cully Fredricksen) in Star Trek: First Contact

According to StarTrek.com, the date of April 5 was chosen because it’s the birthday of producer Ronald D. Moore’s son John. After the film revealed the date of First Contact Day, characters in different series referenced the holiday. For example “Homestead,” one of the final episodes of Star Trek: Voyager, opens with the crew of the titular ship celebrating the 315th First Contact Day.

It’s no mistake that last week, not far at all from First Contact Day, Paramount announced the new upcoming series Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. We also learned about the premiere date — June 15 — for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds‘ second season, the release windows for Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Prodigy‘s new upcoming episodes, and the renewals of Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks for their third and fifth respective seasons.

With First Contact Day arriving this Wednesday, it’s a safe bet there will be more announcements to come. We would also be surprised if this week’s episode of Star Trek: Picard, which will stream the day after the holiday, isn’t one of special significance.

The creation of First Contact Day had a lot of in-universe consequences for Star Trek, particularly when it came to the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise. Throughout the show, there’s constant tension between Earth and the Vulcans, the latter of whom often treat humans like a child species; refusing to share crucial information and technology with them.

James Cromwell reprises the role of Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: Enterprise

Cromwell makes a brief appearance in the series premiere in a video recording of Zefram Cochrane, and toward the end of the series we see a much darker version of his historic first meeting with the Vulcans. The two-parter “In a Mirror, Darkly,” which takes place in Star Trek’s Mirror Universe, opens with the First Contact scene of the first Human/Vulcan meeting.

It unfolds almost exactly as it does in the film, until Cochrane — instead of shaking the alien‘s hand — marks First Contact Day by shooting and killing the alien. The nearby humans likewise whip out their guns and storm the Vulcan ship. It sets the stage for the founding of Star Trek’s ruthless Terran Empire.

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