Star Trek Online, the upcoming MMORPG based on the popular science fiction universe, will be released during the first quarter of 2010, developer Cryptic has confirmed to

That means it'll be out sometime between January and March next year.

Cryptic also teased the launch of a closed beta, saying it's "just around the corner".

The news comes from executive producer Craig Zinkievich, who was speaking to over the phone from Cryptic Studios' offices in California.

He said: "The closed beta is really just right around the corner. I think that there's a press release that's going to go out in just a couple of days."

And on the release date proper, Zinkievich confirmed: "Without giving you the date, which I'm not allowed to give out or else the marketing people will come and smack me in the back of the head, I can tell you that the game will be out the first quarter of 2010."

Star Trek Online, which fuses space combat with more traditional on-ground combat, is looking hot, as you'll no doubt know if you've read our extensive gamescom preview.

Expect more nuggets of Star Trek Online goodness from our giant interview with Craig over the next few days. It's so jam-packed with hot details that we'll be bringing it to you in three digestible chunks, the first of which you'll find right here. So what are you waiting for? Go!