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Enterprise (OV-101)

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Space Shuttle Enterprise on Earth.

Space Shuttle Enterprise on Earth.
Class: Space Shuttle
Registry: OV-101
Owner: United States of America
Operator: NASA
Status: Active (21st century)
Enterprise OV-101.jpg

Archer's drawing of Orbiter Vehicle 101

Archer's drawing of Orbiter Vehicle 101

Enterprise (OV-101) was an American space shuttle that was in service with NASA in the late 20th century. Enterprise was the first shuttle in NASA's Space Shuttle program.


Enterprise legacy tmp

Featured in a display (center) of ships named Enterprise

An artistic rendition of the space shuttle Enterprise was displayed in Jonathan Archer's ready room, showing Enterprise in flight. (Star Trek: Enterprise)

The picture was based on one of the final two free flight tests (tests 1 through 3 were conducted with the ferry tail cone attached to reduce aerodynamic drag). The drawing includes the prototype shuttle's nose probe which was removed after approach and landing tests were complete.

It was also honored with a portrait on the refit USS Enterprise's recreation deck in the 2270s. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

The space shuttle Enterprise also appeared docked to the International Space Station as a model in Benjamin Sisko's office on Deep Space 9. (DS9: "Inquisition")

Enterprise OV-101 model

A model of the space shuttle Enterprise

In 2259 of the alternate reality, a replica of this shuttle was on display in the office of Admiral Alexander Marcus. (Star Trek Into Darkness)


Background information

Enterprise was a prototype/test vehicle for Earth's first reusable spacecraft. She was used primarily to verify the performance of the Space Shuttle Orbiter design during final approach and landing and never flew in space. She was displayed in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum from December 2003 until April 2012, and now makes its home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City; Leonard Nimoy, who befittingly came full circle, as he was also present at the unveil of the orbiter thirty-six years earlier, attended and spoke at the arrival ceremony.

Space shuttle enterprise star trek

The cast of TOS in front of the Enterprise

The first space shuttle was originally supposed to be named Constitution, in honor of the United States' bicentennial celebrations in 1976. However, a massive fan letter campaign organized by Bjo Trimble produced over 200,000 letters asking President Gerald Ford to name the shuttle Enterprise after the Star Trek starship (which, ironically, is Constitution-class) instead. When the Enterprise was unveiled on 17 September, 1976, at Rockwell's plant at Palmdale, California, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and most of the principal cast of the Star Trek: The Original Series were on hand at the highly publicized dedication ceremony as guests of honor in recognition of its fictional namesake. (Starlog, issue 3, p. 7: Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 9, pp. 84-88, et al.) Not invited for the event was the original designer of the fictional ship, Matt Jefferies, but he was present, invited by NASA as guest of honor, at the first free-flight test of the shuttle on 12 August 1977. (Beyond the Clouds, pp. 285-286)

In the real world, Enterprise (OV-101) was not built to be spaceworthy, and was meant only for atmospheric tests, although NASA intended to upgrade the vehicle for space flight after the test program ended. However, changes to the final design and advances in materials technology in the interim made this too costly; an existing structural test article was used instead to build the shuttle Challenger (OV-099). Enterprise was again considered for modification after Challenger was lost, but it was cheaper and easier to build Endeavour (OV-105) out of structural spares. [1]

A model of a space shuttle docked with the International Space Station was given to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series as a gift by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, where it served as a desktop model in Benjamin Sisko's office. The art department staff made one minor alteration on the model; changing the name of the shuttle to bear that of the Enterprise, even though, as stated, that orbiter never made it into into space in real life. (Star Trek Encyclopedia, 3rd ed., p. 619)

Footage of the shuttle Enterprise included in the montage of historic images shown during the opening credits for Star Trek: Enterprise is actually one of the later shuttles with the name Enterprise digitally inserted. The footage shows the orbiter's name on the forward fuselage under the cockpit windows, where the operational shuttles had their names painted; Enterprise had her name painted on the payload bay doors just above the hinge and behind the crew module, where it remains to this day.

The Artisan prop and model shop of Quantum Mechanix, QMx FX Cinema Arts, was asked to illustrate the history of space flight with models for the film. They constructed fourteen models in total. On their website, along with a picture of the model of the Enterprise, there was this caption, "It's all well and good to send people up in rockets for brief periods, but to make human habitation of space a reality, we needed a way to ferry crew and supplies to permanent orbital stations. The U.S. Space Shuttle supplied the solution to that challenge for more than two decades. It also has the distinction of having the first spaceship named Enterprise, which ironically never actually flew in space." [2]


The novel A Flag Full of Stars states that she instead was named for the World War Two aircraft carrier because the brother of one of the engineers who worked on her died serving aboard said ship, and that she was the last surviving space shuttle. She was refitted with impulse engines so she could participate in a parade of antique spacecraft celebrating the 300th anniversary of Apollo 11.

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