How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterprise

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Robert Comsol, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    I should like to point out there is a striking lack of primary documentation saying that NASA had ever intended to name the first space shuttle orbiter (OV-101) Constitution. Even ordinarily quite good resources, such as Heppenheimer's detailed histories of the Space Shuttle's development and construction, pass along reports of the name change without ever citing a NASA memorandum or report on 1976 orbiter name suggestions.

    There are quite good references to the name selection process from 1978 (when Columbia, Challenger, and Discovery were named), broken down into what the names might refer to and what connotations they might offer; and there are voluminous ones from the late 80s when the need to name another orbiter came about. But an actual NASA memorandum from 1975 or 1976 specifying that OV-101 would be named Constitution? I have not come across it, nor found anyone who has, in my inquiries to space historians. (I admit I haven't asked Heppenheimer, but really ought to.)

    Note that I am not asserting that Constitution wasn't pencilled in as a name; merely that I have not found any primary sources which state that it was.

    If Constitution was the name selected, then who are the people who selected it, and when was it selected, and where is that decision recorded? Note that no popular account of the Constitution name change answers those questions. (I can provide names and dates for the 1978 name reviews, for example, and don't just because I would have to walk all the way downstairs to get my reference for it; if you really wish to know, however, I can provide names and dates.) It does not satisfy the thoughtful historian to say ``NASA suggested the name'', as ``NASA'' is hundreds of thousands of people, and not all of them were involved in shuttle naming, and they surely did not come to spontaneous unanimous agreement without discussion or thought.

    Given the lack of evidence, however, I submit that it is more likely that no particular thought was given to naming the orbiters at all, at least before Trekkies got into the game. Proving there wasn't such thought is hard to do, but I think anyone arguing that there were names in mind has to explain the curious anomaly in NASA SP-4402, Origins Of NASA Names, http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4402/ch4.htm, which identifies origins of the names for all NASA projects, including space capsules, and including proposed but rejected names, up to 1976.

    While the ``Space Shuttle'' name is traced and explained, there is no suggestion that any names for the individual orbiters has been given, nor that it's been under consideration. Given that this is a book that sees the need to describe why the ``Orbiting Frog Otolith'' satellite was called that (and it was an orbiting satellite to study frog otoliths, the inner ear balance mechanism), it is bizarre that SP-4402 would omit surely the most interesting naming question of 1976.

    Note that no Gemini capsules were named after Gemini 3 (though the earliest astronauts had some names in mind), nor were Apollo capsules named except when there would be two vehicles from the same mission operating simultaneously. There would not, by 1976-era mission planning, ever be two shuttles from the same mission orbiting simultaneously. Radio communications --- the primary need for vehicle names --- would have been satisfied by using the mission number, as was done with Gemini 7 and 6 flew simultaneously.

    In short: while it has been a popular story since the shuttle Enterprise was debuted to say that it would have been named Constitution if not for the Trekkies, I point out there is a distinct lack of primary evidence that there was any name in mind for the first shuttle orbiter vehicle before the Trekkie campaign.
     
  2. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    CoveTom
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    The name Enterprise has quite an extensive and honorable tradition throughout history in both the British and United States Navies, as well as in other areas. I would say that, in-universe, the name was chosen merely as part of this lineage, without connection to any fictional science fiction franchise.
     
  3. M'Sharak

    M'Sharak Definitely Herbert. Maybe. Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2002
    Location:
    Terra Inlandia, Kelvin timeline
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    I had no direct involvement in the naming campaign, but I don't recall any such reasons ever getting mention. Heck, I'm not even sure I remember the name "Constitution" coming up at any point. A bunch of Trekkies just thought it ought to be called "Enterprise".
     
  4. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2012
    Location:
    USS Berlin
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    Here is what appears to be the official record of NASA: http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/kscpao/shuttle/resources/orbiters/enterprise.html

    "Constitution Day" was apparently the major inspiration for the Orbiter's original name proposal.

    The question therefore is: Were the fans aware of such intentions or did they simply want the vessel to be named Enterprise (assuming no name had been intended, yet)?

    Bob

    P.S. Trek BBS moderators...what happened to the thread title? I know that one mod wants to put F-U back into "fun" but what's the point of removing "se" of Enterpri.. ?
     
  5. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Beats and the Shouting Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2001
    Location:
    People's Gaypublic of Drugafornia
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    It started with the first response, which added an "Re:" to the title in that and all subsequent posts.

    My best guess is that the original title was right at the character limit, and the "Re:" forced a cutoff at the end of it.

    :)
     
  6. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Location:
    Georgia, United States
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    You might be surprised. I sell Star Trek items, and fully half my Trek customers are in the military. I also shipped one item to the White House. :cool:
     
  7. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Location:
    a sonic shower
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    Damn, there's a name I hadn't thought of in 34 years. I see where he just died last December, too.

    R.I.P.
     
  8. B.J.

    B.J. Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    Some people over at CollectSpace were researching the question about the orbiter names several years ago. Here's a link to that thread: http://www.collectspace.com/ubb/Forum30/HTML/000317.html They had help from Valerie Neal at the National Air and Space Museum in researching all of this.

    Apparently Young and Crippen (the crew of the first shuttle flight) preferred "Kitty Hawk" for the name, and that's why Robert McCall has that in his sketches for the patch design: http://www.mccallstudios.com/images/stories/interactive-gallery/0253-025.jpg

    NASA announced the names of the four orbiter fleet on February 1, 1979, in press release no. 79-06, "Shuttle Orbiters Named after Sea Vessels". http://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/pdf/83131main_1979.pdf


    Here's the rest of the name recommendations:
    Funny that Enterprise could have been an actual space-worthy shuttle if the Trekkies didn't get their way!
     
  9. AtoZ

    AtoZ Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2009
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    Though I don't see her in the picture, was Majel Barret present at the event?

    Or like NBC...did NASA try to cut her out?
     
  10. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2012
    Location:
    USS Berlin
  11. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2008
    Location:
    Planet Carcazed
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    This is a non-issue.

    Trekners wanted the shuttle to be named Enterprise. As I remember it, the noise was loud enough that "the powers that be" decided to go ahead and do it.

    Whether or not that's in the recorded history ... ? But that's what I remember.
     
  12. feek61

    feek61 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Location:
    The Sunshine State
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    ^^^
    That's exactly the way I remember it as well.
     
  13. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2012
    Location:
    Melakon's grave
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    It was another letter-writing campaign I think, and a few mild demonstrations to get on the news.
     
  14. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2012
    Location:
    a sonic shower
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    Courtesy of Warped9, here is another photo.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. CrazyMatt

    CrazyMatt Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Trying to focus....
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    But hundreds of years later, revenge would be achieved... after all, the most famous starships are known as the Constitution Class, not the Enterprise class!
     
  16. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2012
    Location:
    USS Berlin
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    Yeah, that's what these 1976 loosers want to make everybody believe. :D

    The Enterprise was the first space shuttle, first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and first interstellar vessel (XCV-330) but in the 23rd Century it suddenly comes in second place (although Matt Jefferies was specific that he was the first bird of its series).

    Bob
     
  17. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2001
    Location:
    Mr. Adventure
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    My cousin who served in the Navy told me when they refueled from the Enterprise they'd play the Star Trek theme. I was never sure if he was pulling my leg or not but a search in Google did turn up this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakaway_music.
     
  18. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Location:
    Heidelberg, Germany
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    That´s quite an interesting bit of (inside) information. Thanks :techman:
     
  19. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
    Location:
    Georgia, United States
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    I know. I never liked how that came about. At least it is usually known as the Flagship of the Fleet these days.
     
  20. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Re: How Star Trek fans sunk the Constitution on behalf of the Enterpri

    Yeah, uh, you know the question isn't ``was the first space shuttle named Enterprise after Trek fans organized a letter-writing campaign?''. There's no room for realistic doubt about the answer to that being yes.

    The interesting question is, ``was there actually another name planned for that orbiter before the Trek letter-writing campaign, and if so, was it Constitution?'' And there is quite some room for doubt about its answer, for reasons outlined above.