There were six space shuttle orbiters built in the US. Two of them met tragic fates: Challenger exploded on take-off and traumatized school children everywhere. Columbia burned up on re-entry due to a lost heat shield. The rest of the shuttles have since been retired and are not on display in various museums across America. Discovery flew the most missions. Atlantis was the first to dock with a Russian space station. Endeavour was built from spare parts left over from Discovery and Atlantis.
One shuttle never made it into space. It’s mission was more earth-bound. Being the first, it would perform the crucial task of proving that a shuttle could work. Test on this shuttle would inform changes to the first shuttle to make spaceflight. And the name assigned to Space Shuttle Orbiter with the designation OV-101 … was the Constitution.
Wait… hold on. It’s name was changed thanks to a letter writing campaign. Hundreds of thousands of letters were sent to President Gerald Ford asking that the shuttle’s name instead be named after the ship from their favorite TV show. Ford directed NASA officials to change the name, and thus we have the name of the first space shuttle orbiter: the Enterprise.
How proud are the caretakers of the Star Trek franchise of this monumental achievement? The Enterprise show up in Star Trek: The Motion Picture on a wall featuring famous Enterprises.
It’s referred to, once again, in the opening sequence of the Star Trek: Enterprise TV series.