Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What was the original name of the Space Shuttle Enterprise?

Space Shuttle EnterpriseImage via WikipediaA mere 34 years ago this week -- Sept. 17, 1976 -- the Space Shuttle Enterprise was revealed to the public with a  Star Trek-themed press event. Gene Roddenberry and much of the original Star Trek series' principal cast were present, which was appropriate since it was a mass write-in campaign by Star Trek fans that prodded NASA into naming the original shuttle orbiter after the famous fictional starship.

The space shuttle designated OV-101 was originally intended to bear a different name than Enterprise, one which has some intriguing parallels to Star Trek canon.

What was the original name of the Space Shuttle Enterprise?

The space shuttle Enterprise was originally christened Constitution, but that namesake was changed to satisfy the overwhelming public demand for a spacecraft named after Captain Kirk's starship.

Ironically, the fictional Enterprise wasn't going to be called Enterprise, either. In original script drafts, Gene Roddenberry christened his setpiece starship the Yorktown but rebranded it Enterprise by the time Star Trek was in production. (Roddenberry gave a subtle nod to this switchover in his commentaries about Star Trek IV (affiliate link), suggesting that the Enterprise NCC-1701-A presented to Kirk at the end of the film was originally christened the Yorktown but was renamed to honor Kirk and his crew.) Both the Yorktown and the Enterprise were Constitution-class starships, showing a rather circumspect parallel to the Constitution-turned-Enterprise space shuttle.

That's not just another aerospace industry example of art imitating life; it's a transfictional tidbit of the Truly Trivial.
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