Happy Birthday, Star Trek! (Capt. Kirk, We Love Ya)
Promo ad for Star Trek, 1966.
Credit: NBC

Forty-seven years ago today, a science fiction icon was born that would live long, and definitely prosper. I'm talking, of course, about the original TV series of "Star Trek," which launched the U.S.S. Enterprise into deep space (and our hearts) on Sept. 8, 1966 and that starship has been boldly going ever since.

Today, the "Star Trek" sci-fi franchise has spawned four spinoff series, an animated TV show and — as of this summer — 12 feature films, with the promise of more to come. So why do we love "Star Trek" so much? Why do we watch the crew of the Starship Enterprise, its brash and bold Captain James T. Kirk, half-Vulcan half-human First Officer Spock and their crew save the universe time after time? Even now, it's hard to pin down, but the series' vision of a far-distant future in which humanity has reached a global peace in order to expand into the stars has always been a major draw for me. Its sense of exploration, of pushing beyond the "final frontier," resonates even today. And let's be honest, who doesn't want warp drive and transporters and tricorders? At least we have handheld "communicators" (think cell phones). [Evolution of the U.S.S. Enterprise in Photos]

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By a serendipitous bit of timing, this "Star Trek" birthday comes just days before the Sept. 10 release of "Star Trek Into Darkness" on Blu-Ray and DVD, so Trek fans can get even more of those "strange new worlds" we all know and love. So take a moment today and raise a glass of Romulan Ale to the late Gene Roddenberry, the visionary who first dreamed up "Star Trek," the Enterprise, Kirk, Spock and the rest. Great Bird of the Galaxy, we thank you. Warp speed, Mr. Scott.

The legacy of Star Trek is more than four decades old and still going strong. <a href="http://www.space.com/12858-star-trek-timeline-science-fiction-infographic.html">See the evolution of Star Trek in this SPACE.com infographic</a>.
The legacy of Star Trek is more than four decades old and still going strong. See the evolution of Star Trek in this SPACE.com infographic.
Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com Contributor

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+