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Origin Of First Contact Day Explained

Live long and prosper.

Illustrated art of the Vulcan leader greeting humans with 'Live long and prosper' / Rob DeHart

On the eve of First Contact Day, let's revisit the origins of this significant moment in Star Trek history.

Cochrane and the Vulcan leader shake hands initiating First Contact

Star Trek: First Contact

How Was April 5 Chosen?

Yes, it’s time to celebrate a day that, well, hasn’t happened yet. Before we jump into a detailed explanation of what First Contact Day is within Star Trek canon, we thought we’d address a practical matter — how and why did the writers-producers of Star Trek: First Contact choose April 5 as First Contact Day?

In Montana, a crowd of observers watch the historic landing of the first extraterrestrial craft to openly and publicly visit Earth.

Star Trek: First Contact

We turned to the film’s co-writer, Ronald D. Moore, who offered a remarkably simple, sensible and succinct explanation. “The short answer on First Contact Day is that it's my oldest son, Jonathan's birthday,” Moore told “And that's the only reason the date was chosen.”

What is the Significance of First Contact Day?

First Contact Day pays tribute to the flight of the warp-capable Phoenix and the pivotal first interaction between humans and Vulcans, which occurred on April 5, 2063.

The Vulcan leader greets Cochrane with the Vulcan salute 'live long and prosper'

Star Trek: First Contact

The Phoenix, built and piloted by inventor Zefram Cochrane, was the spacecraft that marked mankind’s first successful attempt at traveling at warp, utilizing a warp drive. That night, shortly after launch, the Phoenix broke the warp barrier, which caught the attention of a Vulcan survey ship, the T'Plana-Hath, as it was passing Earth.

The T'Plana-Hath, landed in Bozeman, Montana, after tracking the warp signature of the Phoenix, believing this civilization was advanced enough with their discovery of faster-than-light travel. Minutes later, a robed Vulcan, displaying the split-fingered Vulcan greeting, made the acquaintance of Dr. Cochrane, initiating Earth's first contact with another species and ushering in a new era for humanity.

First Contact was made, and it paved the way to the formation of the United Federation of Planets.

First Contact Day Watch List

Eager to discover more about First Contact and First Contact Day? We've got a watch list for you!

  • "Metamorphosis" (Star Trek: The Original Series) – Stars Glenn Corbett as a young Cochrane
  • "First Contact" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) – Starfleet’s official definition of "making first contact" is to make contact with a planet or species that is about to become warp capable. In this episode, we see just how delicate the moment of First Contact can be. 
  • Star Trek: First Contact – The Next Generation big-screen adventure with James Cromwell in the role of Cochrane (which he reprises, briefly, on Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Lower Decks)
  • "Homestead" (Star Trek: Voyager) – Neelix and Naomi Wildman throw a party celebrating the 315th anniversary of First Contact Day, complete with heaping portions of Cochrane's favorite food (cheese pierogi), a classic jukebox, and Tuvok flashing the Vulcan salute and speaking the legendary line, "Live long and prosper" 
  • "Grounded" (Star Trek: Lower Decks) – Mariner enlists her friends on a rogue mission to exonerate her mother, which includes a detour to Bozeman, Montana. In the three centuries since First Contact, Bozeman has become a tourist attraction thanks to Cochrane’s efforts. There’s even a replica of the Phoenix you can ride like a magic carpet right into space, piloted by a holographic representation of Cochrane himself!