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Old July 10 2014, 11:03 PM   #1
Christopher
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Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Here's an interesting story:

http://io9.com/declassified-memos-re...ttl-1603073259

Newly declassified White House memos reveal the discussion that led to the decision to give into Star Trek fans' petition to name the prototype space shuttle Enterprise, instead of Constitution as originally planned (although even that would've kinda been a Trek reference).

A sample:

  • NASA has received hundreds of thousands of letters from the space-oriented "Star Trek" group asking that the name "Enterprise" be given to the craft. This group comprises millions of individuals who are deeply interested in our space program.
  • The name "Enterprise" is tied in with the system on which the Nation's economic structure is built.
  • Use of the name would provide a substantial human-interest appeal to the rollout ceremonies scheduled for this month in California, where the aeronautical industry is of vital importance.
I like that. "The space-oriented 'Star Trek' group." Downplaying the fact that the "group" was the fan base for a sci-fi TV show.

Others argued that the use of Enterprise in US naval tradition was a better rationale. A security advisor named Jack Marsh wrote:
I have no objection to this selection of a name, however, I am not enthusiastic about the rationale for the selection. "Enterprise" is a famous name for vessels since the early days of the Republic. I think that is a far better reason than appealing to a T.V. fad.
Yup, just a passing fad, that Star Trek. Nobody will remember it in 35 years...

Personally I've long regretted that the Trek fans jumped the gun. Sure, we got a shuttle named Enterprise, but it was just the prototype and never actually flew into space. We should've held out for the second one.
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Old July 10 2014, 11:29 PM   #2
BillJ
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Christopher wrote: View Post
Personally I've long regretted that the Trek fans jumped the gun. Sure, we got a shuttle named Enterprise, but it was just the prototype and never actually flew into space. We should've held out for the second one.
I agree. Looking back, it seems like a rather hollow victory.
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Old July 11 2014, 12:00 AM   #3
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Well the original plan was to modify the first shuttle into a space worthy craft so initially it was suppose to go into space. Later, it was decided that it would be cheaper to build a new shuttle from scratch instead of rebuilding the first one. It always has bummed me out that the "Enterprise" never made it into space.
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Old July 11 2014, 02:38 AM   #4
Anji
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Hollow victory??? What the heck?! We were thrilled to get that shuttle named Enterprise. Back then we actually thought we were getting somewhere when it came to space exploration and if we were going to go our first ship was going to be named Enterprise: THE ENTERPRISE.

And do you really believe NASA's "We're naming the shuttle after the Enterprise battle ship and not the Starship Enterprise line"??? I mean, do you?! I bet a good 80 percent of them were inspired by Star Trek or one of it's spin offs.

I can't believe you bought that story!
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Old July 11 2014, 02:55 AM   #5
C.E. Evans
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

feek61 wrote: View Post
Well the original plan was to modify the first shuttle into a space worthy craft so initially it was suppose to go into space. Later, it was decided that it would be cheaper to build a new shuttle from scratch instead of rebuilding the first one. It always has bummed me out that the "Enterprise" never made it into space.
Yep, I remember when I did a paper on the shuttle program that Enterprise was meant to go into space originally.
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Old July 11 2014, 02:57 AM   #6
The Wormhole
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Anji wrote: View Post
And do you really believe NASA's "We're naming the shuttle after the Enterprise battle ship and not the Starship Enterprise line"??? I mean, do you?! I bet a good 80 percent of them were inspired by Star Trek or one of it's spin offs.
While I'm sure there were a decent amount of Trek fans at NASA at the time, I'm not sure how many of them were "inspired" by Trek. A few maybe, but a lot of them were probably working towards a career with NASA before even watching Trek.

They definitely weren't inspired by any of the spin-offs. How could they? All this was over a decade before TNG premiered.
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Old July 11 2014, 04:53 AM   #7
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Anji wrote: View Post
And do you really believe NASA's "We're naming the shuttle after the Enterprise battle ship and not the Starship Enterprise line"??? I mean, do you?! I bet a good 80 percent of them were inspired by Star Trek or one of it's spin offs.

I can't believe you bought that story!
Umm, who are you talking to? What I presented are actual White House memos, and they make it clear that the pressure from Star Trek fans was indeed the primary reason for the name choice, with the Naval association being a secondary rationale that some of the decision-makers involved found preferable as a justification.

Also, what are you talking about? NASA never denied that it named the shuttle after the TV starship. At the shuttle Enterprise's rollout, they invited in Roddenberry and most of the cast (all of the main seven except Shatner were there), and the Air Force band played the Star Trek theme when the shuttle was revealed. The comment I posted about preferring the Naval justification for the name was not from NASA, it was from a security advisor within the Ford administration, offering a dissenting view to the recommendation that the Trek fans' wishes should be heeded.
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Old July 11 2014, 05:07 AM   #8
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Anji wrote: View Post
Hollow victory??? What the heck?! We were thrilled to get that shuttle named Enterprise. Back then we actually thought we were getting somewhere when it came to space exploration and if we were going to go our first ship was going to be named Enterprise: THE ENTERPRISE.
It became a hollow victory when everyone realized that Enterprise would never reach space. At least that's how I felt when I sat on the beach in Florida and watched the Columbia launch on it's maiden flight.
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Old July 11 2014, 06:50 AM   #9
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

sojourner wrote: View Post
Anji wrote: View Post
Hollow victory??? What the heck?! We were thrilled to get that shuttle named Enterprise. Back then we actually thought we were getting somewhere when it came to space exploration and if we were going to go our first ship was going to be named Enterprise: THE ENTERPRISE.
It became a hollow victory when everyone realized that Enterprise would never reach space. At least that's how I felt when I sat on the beach in Florida and watched the Columbia launch on it's maiden flight.
"As God as my witness, I thought Enterprises could fly..."

Mr Carlson joke aside...

We're burying the lede here: that there's plenty of mundane crap that's classified by our government.

Beyond that, we WILL have ships named Enterprise in space. Maybe more along the lines of the VSS Enterprise, but I'm okay with that...
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Old July 11 2014, 11:18 AM   #10
2takesfrakes
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

It was a nice PR stunt, back in the day. NASA's become so ineffective at manned spaceflight, that it's probably better that it tone down its STAR TREK comparissons, before it embarasses itself even more than it already has.
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Old July 11 2014, 05:35 PM   #11
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

2takesfrakes wrote: View Post
It was a nice PR stunt, back in the day. NASA's become so ineffective at manned spaceflight, that it's probably better that it tone down its STAR TREK comparissons, before it embarasses itself even more than it already has.
NASA's become "ineffective" because its budget keeps getting cut and science keeps getting de-prioritized by Congress. Only a tiny fraction of the national budget actually goes to NASA, with no foresight fueled by the fact that today's technologies were made possible by yesterday's NASA.
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Old July 11 2014, 06:04 PM   #12
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Cyke101 wrote: View Post

NASA's become "ineffective" because its budget keeps getting cut and science keeps getting de-prioritized by Congress. Only a tiny fraction of the national budget actually goes to NASA, with no foresight fueled by the fact that today's technologies were made possible by yesterday's NASA.
A BIG +1!
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Old July 11 2014, 06:28 PM   #13
Galileo7
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

feek61 wrote: View Post
Well the original plan was to modify the first shuttle into a space worthy craft so initially it was suppose to go into space. Later, it was decided that it would be cheaper to build a new shuttle from scratch instead of rebuilding the first one. It always has bummed me out that the "Enterprise" never made it into space.
Agree.
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Old July 11 2014, 07:26 PM   #14
SchwEnt
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Sure it's easy to wish that the Enterprise shuttle became the first to launch into space (Columbia).

But if that first shuttle into space had been named Enterprise, suppose that vehicle and history all remained the same except for the naming.

Today we'd be remembering the Enterprise disaster that killed seven astronauts in 2003.

Be careful what you wish for.
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Old July 11 2014, 07:34 PM   #15
Robert Comsol
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Re: Naming the Space Shuttle Enterprise

Christopher wrote: View Post
Newly declassified White House memos reveal the discussion that led to the decision to give into Star Trek fans' petition to name the prototype space shuttle Enterprise, instead of Constitution as originally planned (although even that would've kinda been a Trek reference).
Somehow I feel very certain that neither Greg Jein or Franz Joseph Schnaubelt signed that petition...

However, I wouldn't be suprised if Gene Roddenberry, Matt Jefferies and Bob Justman supported the petition.

Bob
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