The game is produced by Cryptic Studios, the publisher behind the City of Heroes and City of Villains MMOs.
To play the Star Trek Online beta, gamers first need a beta key. The easiest way to get one of those is to pre-order the game from an online retailer such as Amazon. (List price is US$49.99.)
Beta keys are also available from gaming sites such as FilePlanet and Massively -- the list and links are in the FAQ here.
After getting the beta key, players can download the game client. System requirements are Windows XP SP2, Vista, or 7, a 1.8GHz+ dual-core chip, and at least an ATI Radeon X1800 or NVidia GeForce 7950 video card.
The open beta ends on January 26, and the game officially goes on sale four days later. Customers who have preordered the game, however, will get to start playing on January 29.