On this day in Alabama history: NASA unveiled space shuttle Enterprise

On this day in Alabama history: NASA unveiled space shuttle Enterprise
The shuttle Enterprise rolls out of the Palmdale manufacturing facilities with Star Trek television cast members. From left to right they are: Dr. James C. Fletcher (NASA administrator), DeForest Kelley (Dr. "Bones" McCoy), George Takei (Mr. Sulu), James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott), Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura), Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock), Gene Roddenberry (The Great Bird of the Galaxy), Democratic Congressman Don Fuqua, and Walter Koenig (Ensign Pavel Chekov). (Wikipedia)

Sept. 17, 1976

It was named after the Starship Enterprise, from the famed TV show “Star Trek.” Indeed, much of the cast of the show and its creator, Gene Rodenberry, attended the unveiling on this day in 1976. It represented a completely new concept for the nation’s space program: a reusable space orbiter. But Enterprise would never make it to space. Rather, it was the “test shuttle,” built for atmospheric tests only after being launched from a modified Boeing 747 jet. Enterprise had no engines and no functional heat shield, making it incapable of spaceflight. And design changes after Enterprise’s unveiling made it impractical to retrofit for space travel. Constructed primarily in California, Enterprise also spent time at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, where it underwent rigorous ground-vibration testing. It was in Huntsville that, for the first time, all the space shuttle’s key components – the orbiter, external tank and two solid-rocket boosters – were tied together.

Read more at NASA, Wikipedia, and Encyclopedia of Alabama. 

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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