United Federation of Planets

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United Federation of Planets
  • UFP
  • The Federation
Flag of the United Federation of Planets.svg
The Flag of the United Federation of Planets
Founded 2161

Paris, San Francisco, and New York

Earth, Sol System, Sector 001, Alpha Quadrant
Legislature Federation Council
Currency Federation Credit

The United Federation of Planets, abbreviated as UFP and usually referred to as "the Federation", is a fictional interstellar federal republic in the Star Trek science fiction franchise, composed numerous of planetary sovereignties. In the UFP the member planetary governments agreed to exist semi-autonomously under a single central authority based on the Utopian principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality, and to share their knowledge and resources in peaceful cooperation and space exploration; each member world retained its own political and social structure, with the Federation itself serving as a 'United Nations'-type advisory body.

The Federation was first introduced in the 1966–1969 television show Star Trek as the organization that sent the starship USS Enterprise on its mission of peaceful exploration. As the Federation has continued to explore the galaxy and expanded its membership, it has been increasingly challenged by hostile alien civilizations such as the Borg and the Dominion. The survival, success, and growth of the Federation and its principles of freedom have become some of the Star Trek franchise's central themes.

The Federation was originally conceived as an idealized version of the United Nations. The Federation has been generally well received by critics and fans, becoming one of the most enduring storylines and symbols of the Star Trek franchise.


The first mention of the United Federation of Planets was in the 1967 episode "A Taste of Armageddon", although other vague references such as just "the Federation" or to the "United Earth Space Probe Agency" were used in prior episodes.[citation needed] As part of the anti-war message he wanted the show to convey, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry intended to depict the Federation as an ideal, optimistic version of the United Nations.[citation needed] In several following episodes of the original series that were intended as allegories to the then-current Cold War tensions, the Federation took on the role resembling NATO while the Klingons represented the Soviet Union.[1] Roberto Orci, writer of the 2009 Star Trek movie, explained that the utopianism of the series has many times been a thematic foil to ongoing world events, showing that peace is possible in times where there are fears of "perpetual war".[2]

The Federation is described as an interstellar federal polity with, as of the year 2373, more than 150 member planets and thousands of colonies spread across some 8,000,000 cubic light years of the Milky Way galaxy; each successive series in the timeline bringing in more races and planets into the Federation. The social structure within the Federation is classless and operates within a money-less "New World Economy". The Federation is described as stressing, at least nominally, the values of universal liberty, equality, justice, peace, and cooperation.[3][page needed][4] The Federation also maintains its own quasi-militaristic and scientific exploratory agency, known as Starfleet (also written as "Star Fleet" in some texts). Starfleet is seen handling many other governmental processes, often with no other agency's influence, such as border defense (Balance of Terror, Arena), diplomatic envoy (Mirror Mirror), and has seen extensive use as a defensive military force (Errand of Mercy, Doomsday Machine).


The television series and films depict Earth and humanity as holding a center-stage political role within the Federation, in some ways first among equals. The legislature, the Federation Council, is located at the Presidio of San Francisco.[5] Several other bodies of the Federation have been depicted. There is an executive branch headed by a Federation President,[6] who keeps offices in the Palais de la Concorde in Paris. There is a judiciary branch as well, the highest court of which is the Federation Supreme Court.[7] The Federation's scientific, diplomatic and defensive/military arm is Starfleet, depicted as being headquartered at Fort Baker, just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. The Federation comes into military conflict with other major powers in the galaxy such as the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, the Cardassian Union, the Borg, and the Dominion.

The United Federation of Planets has existed as part of the Star Trek universe since the first season of the original series and is the primary focus of all the Star Trek series. Several episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise follow events leading up the creation of the Federation, with the final episode featuring the signing of the Federation Charter.

In the series Star Trek: Enterprise, Earth Minister Nathan Samuels advocated the Coalition of Planets and invited other alien species, initially the Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites, to become a part of this. The formation of the Coalition seems to have been the event that provoked the xenophobic Terra Prime incident in the episodes "Demons" and "Terra Prime". After Terra Prime leader John Frederick Paxton exploited the xenophobia on Earth, many of the aliens were unnerved and nearly abandoned the idea of a coalition. However, they were convinced by a speech from Captain Jonathan Archer to give the idea of a united organization of worlds a chance. Six years later in 2161,[8] the United Federation of Planets was organized.

The Federation is founded under a document known as the Charter of the United Federation of Planets October 9, 2161, which is occasionally referred to informally as the "Constitution". It draws text and inspiration from the United Nations Charter and other sources. An important guiding principle — indeed, it is listed as General Order One in the list of Starfleet general orders — is the Prime Directive, which forbids any interference in the natural development of any civilization which has not yet discovered faster-than-light ("warp") travel. This is intended to prevent even well-intentioned Federation personnel from introducing changes which could destabilize or even destroy other pre-warp-era cultures through interference.[9] In practice, however, consistent application of the Prime Directive tends to be a controversial issue, and the Federation does not always abide strictly by it, as when it initially approved the forced relocation of the Ba'ku from their adopted homeworld—although it was eventually determined that the Ba'ku were not a pre-warp civilization.[10] Starfleet's Omega Directive supersedes the Prime Directive allowing for any means possible to destroy the Omega particle if encountered.[11] Other aspects of the Articles provide for rule of law, equality among individuals and protection of civil and creative liberties, which appears to be based on principles found in contemporary Western political theory. It includes a set of guarantees of civil rights, the "Seventh Guarantee" being analogous to the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and its protection against self-incrimination.

The Federation also has its own semi-independent black ops agency, referred to only as "Section 31". It can be considered analogous to the Romulan Star Empire's "Tal Shiar" and the Cardassian Union's "Obsidian Order".

The Federation has exacting requirements for prospective member worlds that wish to join. Caste-based discrimination is forbidden,[12] and major systematic violations of sentient rights, such as the unjust peacetime imprisonment of specially modified soldiers on the planet Angosia, are not tolerated for any petitioner.[13] Furthermore, while most member worlds have single, unified world governments, it is not required for entry, as the Federation will consider "associate membership" of non-unified worlds.[14] Beyond that, each Federation member planet's internal politics and how it governs its own people is done without interference from the Federation at large, provided it abides by rules of conduct expected of all Federation worlds.


The government of the United Federation of Planets consists of the central government, the Federation, and local planetary governments who share joint-sovereignty with the central government. The chief of state or chief of government of most planets are referred to as Governor, Prime Minister, or First Minister. The central government is composed of the Office of the President, the President's Cabinet, the Federation Council which is composed of an equal number of representatives from each member planet, and the Federation Supreme Court.

President of the United Federation of Planets[edit]

The President of the United Federation of Planets (informally, the Federation President or the President of the Federation) is the elected head of state and head of government of the United Federation of Planets and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the government, setting and coordinating foreign policy, and dealing with resource distribution issues. The Federation President is also the commander-in-chief of all Starfleet forces.

The President is supported by the Cabinet, a special committee composed of the heads of the executive departments of the Federation government as mentioned in "Extreme Measures".

The Federation President's office is located on Earth in the city of Paris, France.

Federation Council[edit]

The Federation Council is the legislature of the United Federation of Planets. Seats on the Council are filled by representatives from the various Federation Member Worlds. In addition to legislation, only the Federation Council may declare war and frequently passes resolutions which the Federation President and his or her staff must carry out and enforce.

The make-up and location of the Council is somewhat vague and open to interpretation based upon canonical evidence.

Federation Supreme Court[edit]

The Federation Supreme Court is the highest court in the Federation headed by an elected Chief Justice. The Federation Supreme Court was first mentioned in "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?".

History of the Federation[edit]

21st century[edit]

After the end of World War III on Earth, scientist Zefram Cochrane built Earth's first warp-capable vessel, the Phoenix. He launched it on April 5, 2063. The warp-testing of this vessel would garner the attention of a Vulcan science ship operating just outside the Solar System. Vulcans had not previously considered the Solar System of Earth, or Earth itself, worthy of their attention before this time. However, the science ship lands on Earth, and makes first-contact with Zefram Cochrane and the inhabitants of Bozeman, Montana. This contact would be the first time that Earth joins the interstellar community, and begins the road toward the foundation of the United Federation of Planets.

22nd-23rd centuries[edit]

In the year 2119, an aging Zefram Cochrane opens the Warp 5 Complex on Earth, in the hope of building a vessel that would be the fastest human starship at the time. Eventually this project would yield the Enterprise NX-01, Earth's first deep-space exploration vessel. In 2150, a World Government, United Earth, was formed that included virtually all of the old nations on Earth.[citation needed]

Although no single individual is responsible for the foundation of the United Federation of Planets, the exploratory vessel Enterprise NX-01 was a major catalyst. Under the command of Captain Jonathan Archer, it helped forge an alliance between the formerly belligerent Vulcan, Andorian, and Tellarite states, and forged a spirit of unity and cooperation in the Alpha Quadrant, culminating in a formal union in 2161. It was first preceded by the Coalition of Planets, which was mainly opposed by the xenophobic group, Terra Prime. The Federation was formed largely out of the aftermath of the Earth-Romulan War of the late 2150s ending in 2160, when the founding members saw the need for interstellar unity to prevent the horror of further war. Archer was one of the individuals who signed the Federation Charter, after giving an historic speech that was still being studied two centuries later. According to information seen on a viewscreen in a late episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, Jonathan Archer later became the Federation ambassador to Andoria, a Federation Councillor, and President of the United Federation of Planets from 2184 to 2192.[citation needed]

Around 2223, tensions thickened between the UFP and the Klingon Empire. In 2267, the Organian Peace Treaty was signed which ended major engagements, but the two interstellar powers remained in a state of cold war with occasional skirmishes over the next two decades. In 2293 the Klingons sued for peace after the destruction of the Klingon moon Praxis, leading eventually to the signing of the Khitomer Accords (the events depicted in Star Trek VI). This effectively ended the war and ushered in seven decades of relative peace.

During the era of the original series, Captain James Kirk once noted (in the episode "Metamorphosis") that humanity was on "a thousand planets and spreading out"; however, this number apparently encompasses Earth's many off-Earth colonies and the various alien worlds on which humans can be found (just as non-humans have been depicted as residing on Earth) and should not be taken to mean that the Federation itself had a thousand members at that time. Considering that many of the Federation's other members have several interplanetary colonies just as Earth does, the full number of planets which the Federation encompasses may be impossible to determine, though Star Trek: First Contact establishes that there are 'over one hundred and fifty' planets in the Federation. It is presumed that colony worlds are directly subsidiary to the planetary governments of their homeworlds (much like individual states/provinces in a nation), but this has never been clearly established.

Early 24th century[edit]

In 2311, the Tomed Incident occurred where thousands of Federation civilians and Starfleet personnel were killed by Romulan forces. The unrest was ended by the Treaty of Algeron, which re-affirmed the Neutral Zone and prohibited Federation development of cloaking technology.

In 2344, the Romulan Star Empire launched an assault on the Klingon outpost at Narendra III, but unexpectedly the USS Enterprise-C, under the command of Captain Rachel Garrett, came to the Klingons' defense. This Enterprise was destroyed in the skirmish, a sacrifice which did great honor to the Klingons, and the burgeoning diplomacy between the two powers soon grew into a formal alliance. (In an alternate timeline, the Enterprise-C did not so assist, leading eventually to a full-scale war.)

Exploration and expansion in the 2340s and 2350s brought the Federation into conflict with several minor and major powers including the Talarians, the Sheliak and, eventually, the Cardassians.

Cardassian War[edit]

Federation contact with a race called the Cardassians resulted in an extended conflict. One incident in this conflict was the massacre of Federation civilians on Setlik III in 2347. A truce was reached in the 2360s and a Demilitarized Zone was formed in 2370. A number of Federation and Cardassian colonies found themselves situated within the other’s territory; an agreement was reached for the transfer of those colonies. However, some Federation colonists were opposed to the agreement and formed the Maquis, a rebel movement who resisted the Cardassians.

Mid-24th century[edit]

In 2365, the Federation had first formal contact with the Borg Collective, who threatened the existence of the Federation at the Battle of Wolf 359. Other events of this era include the Klingon Civil War, first contact with the Q, the beginning of relations with the Ferengi and various time travel incidents.

From 2363 to 2371, the USS Enterprise-D served as the Federation's flagship.

From 2371 to 2378, the USS Voyager (NCC-74656) was lost in the Delta Quadrant after being taken in the Badlands by the Caretaker's Array.

From 2373 to 2375, the Federation fought in the Dominion War. This was by far the largest conflict the Federation had ever been involved in, allying initially with the Klingons, and at a later time in the conflict, the Romulans against the combined forces of the Dominion, the Cardassians, and Breen. The Federation/Klingon/Romulan alliance was victorious, due in no small part to the Cardassians switching sides in the war after some of its officials realized that the Dominion had bloodlessly conquered them, but with substantial casualties on both sides.

In 2379, a Reman Praetor named Shinzon seized control of the Romulan Star Empire. The coup was defeated by the crew of the USS Enterprise-E with assistance from dissidents within the Romulan military, opening up the possibility of improved UFP/Romulan relations after over two centuries of general tension. However, this improved relationship came at a cost, as the death of Shinzon may have created a power vacuum.

Future history[edit]

Prominent in some timelines is the Temporal Cold War, waged on a number of fronts throughout time including the 28th and 31st centuries.

By the 29th century, the Federation explores time as it once did space.[15]

Alternate timeline (2009 and 2013 Star Trek films)[edit]

As depicted in the Star Trek: Countdown comic series, in 2387 the star of the Hobus system went supernova and posed a serious threat to the Romulan Star Empire. Ambassador Spock formulated a plan involving red matter to halt the Hobus supernova; saving billions of lives and preventing the political destabilization of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. However, they did not act soon enough to save Romulus from being destroyed. An augmented Romulan mining ship called the Narada captained by Nero attacked the ship in which Spock traveled as Nero blames the Federation (Ambassador Spock in particular) for the destruction of his homeworld and for the death of his wife and child. During the attack, both ships are pulled into the singularity and transported into the past; the appearance of the Narada (which arrives farther into the past than Spock's ship) and its subsequent attack on the USS Kelvin creates an alternate timeline depicted in the 2009 Star Trek film. As depicted in the 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, the Federation in this era is on the brink of war with the Klingon Empire just as its counterpart in the prime reality was.


The Federation has been portrayed as an economic utopia. This is made possible by replicator technology which is made available to all members of Federation society.[16] These machines can produce any consumer good or material by atomic rearrangement and recombination.

In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Dark Frontier", Tom Paris describes it as the "New World Economy", which began in the late 22nd century and eventually made money obsolete, as does Jean-Luc Picard while explaining the timeline to Lily Sloane in Star Trek: First Contact.

The first mention of the Federation not using money came in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, where Kirk (coming from 2286) says "these people still use money" upon arriving at 20th-century Earth, and says "We don't" when asked whether or not he and his crew use money in the 23rd century. In "The Neutral Zone", Picard tries to explain to cryogenically preserved people from the late 20th century that 24th century economics are quite different and money as they know it is not used or needed in the Federation. In Star Trek: First Contact, he gives a similar speech to Lily.

In other episodes, especially earlier in the in-universe timespan, a monetary unit known as the "credit" is mentioned. At the Federation space station K-7 in the original series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", set in 2267, Uhura is offered a Tribble for 10 credits. In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, in 2285, while on Earth, McCoy attempts to hire a ship to take him to the Genesis Planet, is warned it would be expensive, and haggles over payment; we do not know if McCoy could have afforded this or how much it would cost, since he was taken into custody for breaching the secrecy of the Genesis Project immediately afterwards. And in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Carol Marcus mentions the Federation's decision whether or not to "fund" the Genesis Project itself, though "fund" means something different in this context as credits are not mentioned. In the Deep Space Nine episode "You Are Cordially Invited...", Jake Sisko tells Quark he sold his first book, but when Quark asks him how much he earned, Jake answers, "It's just a figure of speech." This explains moments when characters have made similar comments (in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, for instance, Scotty mentioned having "bought" a boat, and during the film Star Trek Generations, Captain Kirk states that he "sold" his house).

By the time of The Next Generation, money was considered abhorrent to many members of Starfleet, although in "Encounter at Farpoint", set in 2364, Beverly Crusher buys a bolt of fabric and requests that it be charged to her account on the Enterprise. Two years later, in 2366, in "The Price", the Federation is willing to pay millions of credits for access to a stable wormhole. Additionally, some officers were shown in "Tapestry" to visit casinos, particularly near starbases, and poker is shown on a number of occasions to be a favorite pastime of Enterprise-D crewmembers, though real money is never said to be part of the game. In the Deep Space Nine episode "Explorers", Benjamin Sisko says that when he first entered Starfleet Academy, he rapidly spent an entire month's allotment of transporter credits (which may not be the same thing as 23rd-century credits) on transporting back and forth to his home in New Orleans. He also arranges for his wife's employer to give her a month's paid vacation (emphasis in episode) in "The Changing Face of Evil" (although his wife works for the Bajorans, a non-Federation race). And in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Tom Paris makes a reference to having someone "pay his bar bills".

Federation credits are not clearly defined in the Star Trek canon outside of the name, and may exist solely for the purpose of trade interaction with those races, such as the Ferengi, which still use some form of currency. It would effectively render the Federation Credit a form of fiat money that holds value to other races solely because the Federation says it does. Riker has a discussion with Quark during Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Firstborn" in which he barters vouchers won through various victories at a gambling table in Quark's establishment in exchange for information during the episode. Riker claims the vouchers were good for twelve bars of latinum, a Ferengi currency, which he also claims can be spent "almost anywhere", while the vouchers were only good at Quark's bar, indicating that while the Federation does not appear to use money among its own people, a number of currencies other than the Federation credit can be accumulated, spent, or given, on other worlds, even within what is typically known as Federation space.[17]


In many non-canon sources like Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual and Worlds of the Federation, as well as the FASA and Last Unicorn Games Star Trek role-playing games, the five founding worlds of the United Federation of Planets were Earth, Vulcan, Tellar, Andoria, and Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri being a founding world of the Federation and even having a humanlike native race called Centaurans became a popular fan theory, possibly based on uncertainty as to whether or not Zefram Cochrane (described in "Metamorphosis" as "Zefram Cochrane of Alpha Centauri") was a native of Alpha Centauri or a resident of a human colony in that system; the latter has since been revealed to be the case, Cochrane having spent most of his life on Earth but eventually retiring to spend his final years on Alpha Centauri, before his disappearance and presumed death.

The once official, but now non-canon Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology 1980 - 2188 guide states that the UFP was "incorporated at the first Babel Interplanetary Conference" in the year 2087.

Later, in Star Trek: Enterprise the actual founding of the Federation can be seen in the episodes "Zero Hour" and "These Are the Voyages...", and early negotiations that lead to it in "Demons" and "Terra Prime". Alpha Centauri is not mentioned as part of the founding, which is explicitly said to be between Humans, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites. This leaves open the possibility of the Alpha Centauri colony becoming an independent polity some time between "Terra Prime" and "These Are the Voyages...", and then helping to form the Federation as a separate member. However, Alpha Centauri is only ever mentioned in passing as an Earth colony on screen. In the alternate timeline seen in the DS9 episode "Past Tense", where the Federation was never formed, Alpha Centauri is under Romulan control instead.

In the novels A Time to Kill, A Time to Heal, A Time For War, A Time For Peace, Errand of Vengeance: Seeds of Rage, and Articles of the Federation, the Federation Council was shown occupying the floors below the President's office in the Palais de la Concorde. This may be seen as contradicting elements of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek: Voyager.

In some non-canonical works like Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual and the novel Articles of the Federation, the Federation's founding document is called the "Articles Of Federation", which has been popular fan tradition. However, in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "The Void", the text of the founding document is shown on screen (the preamble is a slightly reworded version of the UN Charter), and it is clearly called the "Charter of the United Federation of Planets", canonically establishing that as the name of the founding document. The term "charter" is also used in Star Trek: Enterprise and in the DS9 episode "Accession", when discussing membership requirements for the Federation. That latter episode seemed to indicate that the timetable for a world's entry into the Federation is ten years after the request is made, although the Federation was willing to cut that time in half for Bajor in that episode, and has similarly made other exceptions for times of war, as seen in Star Trek: Insurrection. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Drumhead", Captain Picard refers to the founding document in passing as "the Constitution", establishing that it is also known by that name. Novels such as Articles of the Federation presume that it is known by all three names.

The novels have also gone into more detail about inner workings of Federation government, such as how member worlds choose their Councillors (it is up to each world to decide how to do so) and how a President is elected (candidates submit their names anonymously, and are vetted by the Federation Council which determines if they are qualified to run; actual election is done by direct popular vote).


The optimistic view of the future present in the Federation has been highlighted as unique among most science fiction, showing how "civilized" the future could conceivably be.[18] Much debate has centered around how realistic is the "post-scarcity" economy of the Federation that has evolved beyond government-controlled monetary systems.[19] It has been described, along with the series as a whole, as a vehicle to explore what it means to be human, as well as exploring mankind's efforts to build a better society.[20] Some writers have also stated that Star Trek′s vision of the future is outdated, with Federation society having prohibited genetic enhancement when it is not yet clear such technologies will not be a net positive.[21] Other writers have noted that Star Trek′s Federation has the same logistical and philosophical difficulties of other utopian economic and political schemes that make it seem unrealistic.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Westmore, Michael (2000). Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts. New York: Pocket Books. p. 208. ISBN 0-671-04299-8. 
  2. ^ Dave Itzkoff (2009-05-14). "The Two Sides of ‘Star Trek’". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  3. ^ Okuda, Michael; Okuda, Denise (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future (Updated and expanded ed.). New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 9780671034757. 
  4. ^ Charlie Jane Anders (2012-12-04). "The Secret History of Star Trek's Utopian Federation". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  5. ^ This is established in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and corroborated in the Star Trek: Enterprise installment "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II".
  6. ^ Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  7. ^ This is referred to in "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?" in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  8. ^ "The Outcast"
  9. ^ "The Circle" (Deep Space Nine)
  10. ^ Star Trek: Insurrection
  11. ^ "The Omega Directive" Star Trek: Voyager
  12. ^ Accession (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
  13. ^ The Hunted (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  14. ^ "Attached" (The Next Generation)
  15. ^ "Relativity (Star Trek: Voyager)"
  16. ^ "The Economic Lessons of Star Trek’s Money-Free Society". Wired.com. Wired.com. Retrieved December 19, 2016. 
  17. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDLq51joXPw
  18. ^ Saswato R. Das (2011-06-23). "Astronomical!". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  19. ^ Matthew Yglesias (2013-11-18). "The Star Trek Economy: (Mostly) Post-Scarcity (Mostly) Socialism". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  20. ^ Matthew Yglesias (2013-05-15). "I Boldly Went Where Every Star Trek Movie and TV Show Has Gone Before". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  21. ^ George Dvorsky (2012-05-01). "Why Star Trek's Vision of the Future is Out of Date". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  22. ^ Joseph Gargiulo (2015-10-17). "The utopian future of 'Star Trek' doesn't work without extreme inequality and some slavery". Business Insider. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 

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