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  Did 'Star Trek' give rise to NASA's 'Space Shuttle'?

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Author Topic:   Did 'Star Trek' give rise to NASA's 'Space Shuttle'?
Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-16-2013 08:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
Did 'Star Trek' give rise to NASA's 'Space Shuttle'?

NASA's first space shuttle, the test orbiter Enterprise, was named after the fictional starship on "Star Trek" in response to fans staging a write-in campaign. But did the agency's use of the term "space shuttle" also stem from the television series?

Glint
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posted 05-16-2013 09:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would have to say no, and that the two shuttles have little in common.

The STS shuttled back and forth between the surface of a planet, whereas the fictional one was a spacecraft that shuttled from another spacecraft.

The latter is more like another 1960s science fiction invention, the flying mini-sub that was launched from the Seaview in the television series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."

Seaview launches flying mini-sub

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-16-2013 11:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As the article explores, it is not about the look of spacecraft, or even its purpose, but the terminology "space shuttle."

I was surprised recently when I discovered there was a somewhat widespread belief among Star Trek fans that the popularity of the show influenced, if not directly resulted in, NASA adopting the term "space shuttle" to describe its fleet of orbiters.

As the article describes, that doesn't appear to be the case, and it may be that early non-fiction space exploration literature was the inspiration for Star Trek's use of the term "shuttlecraft" (though that is less clear).

Glint
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posted 05-16-2013 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
As the article explores, it is not about the look of spacecraft, or even its purpose, but the terminology "space shuttle."

If you're suggesting the subject name of this thread and the title of the article, "Did 'Star Trek' Give Rise to NASA's 'Space Shuttle'?" are misleading, I would have to agree.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-16-2013 02:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you notice, 'Space Shuttle' is in quotes in the headline for a reason — it is the term (or the words), rather than the vehicle, that is being cited — but yes, if you choose only read the headline (or subject line) and not the article that it is attached to, then I could see where confusion might arise.

Glint
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posted 05-16-2013 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
If you notice, 'Space Shuttle' is in quotes in the headline for a reason — it is the term (or the words), rather than the vehicle, that is being cited

I don't agree.

The term "Star Trek' is also in quotes. So, following your interpretation, the headline suggests that the term "Space Shuttle" was inspired by the term "Star Trek".

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-16-2013 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The words are in quotes for different reasons. Space Shuttle, normally, would not be in quotes (nor capitalized, if the style is to not capitalize every word), whereas "Star Trek," as a title, normally is.

In any case, the topic of the article is indeed about the origin of the name "space shuttle," which is where the Trek lore comes in.

Glint
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posted 05-16-2013 03:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If 'Star Trek' referes to the Star Trek program, then 'Space Shuttle' could refer to the space shuttle program. Thus, the headline would suggest that the Star Trek television program gave rise to the space shuttle program.

It's a poorly constructed title -- "give rise"? What does that mean?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-16-2013 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To cause to happen, occur or exist.

And while we're defining things, a headline's purpose is to quickly and briefly draw attention to the story.

Tykeanaut
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posted 05-16-2013 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Inspire!

Hey Glint! You gonna answer the question or give us all a grammar lesson?

Glint
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posted 05-16-2013 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tykeanaut:
Hey Glint! You gonna answer the question or give us all a grammar lesson?

As far as the content of the article goes, the supporters of the notion that the term "space shuttle" was inspired by Star Trek do so from a position of weakness -- they quote Wikipedia!

However, space.com collectSPACE.com traces the use of the word shuttle back to 1963, so that pretty much settles it. Turns out the term shuttle was inspired by the airline industry.

Now that we know where "space shuttle" originated, how about looking at what may have inspired Star Trek's idea of having a shuttle. I would say it's posible that Gene Roddenberry may have come up with the idea after watching "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." The flying sub debuted before Star Trek's season 1.

issman1
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posted 05-16-2013 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The NASA shuttles may not have bore any resemblance to the shuttlecraft featured in Star Trek lore, but Single Stage To Orbit is what must be pursued if we ever want to see what was depicted in that sci-fi series become reality.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-16-2013 03:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Glint:
However, space.com traces the use of the word shuttle back to 1963...
You mean collectSPACE, the article on Space.com is a syndicated version of the same article here.
quote:
Now that we know where "space shuttle" originated, how about looking at what may have inspired Star Trek's idea of having a shuttle.
If you continue reading the article, you'll note that's addressed, too, with comments from Mike Okuda.

But to add from what didn't make it into the article, here's what Mike said regarding the origin of a shuttlecraft in "Star Trek":

In "The Making of Star Trek" (Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, 1968), an early draft of the series concept (dating to 1964) is reprinted. In that document, there is no reference to a shuttle-like vehicle, only to the transporter, and to the fact that the ship "rarely" lands on a planet.

In the same book, a memo from Harvey Lynn, dated Sept 14, 1964, makes reference to a shuttle-like vehicle that apparently appears in an early draft of "The Cage." Lynn refers to the smaller ship as a "space shuttle or taxi." Therefore, it appears that the term shuttlecraft was not yet part of the Star Trek lexicon at that point. My suspicion is that Lynn's reference to a space shuttle is not in our present use as a formal name, but rather using "space" as an adjective to modify "shuttle or taxi."

Glint
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posted 05-16-2013 04:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
You mean collectSPACE, the article on Space.com is a syndicated version of the same article here.
Definitely, of course. I was simply citing the space.com version that I was reviewing at the time. I have corrected my response above.

IF the shuttlecraft was in the draft of the Star Trek pilot episode, then that would eliminate "the flying sub" as the inspiration for its shuttlecraft.

The quote found in your article from the famous 1950s series in Colliers is very interesting.

In the March 22, 1952 issue of Collier's magazine, as part of a seminal series of articles focused on selling the U.S. public on the idea of manned spaceflight, rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun described, "On approaching the space station, the tiny shuttle-craft will drive directly into an air lock."

In "Star Trek," small shuttlecraft, such as the Galileo, flew directly into the Starship Enterprise's hangar deck.

I would be surprised if Roddenberry was unfamiliar with that magazine series. The word "shuttlecraft" could have been recycled by him over a decade later in Star Trek.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-16-2013 04:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Glint:
I would be surprised if Roddenberry was unfamiliar with that magazine series.
I agree, though it would be hard to prove without something in writing from Roddenberry. I asked Mike Okuda if Roddenberry was aware of von Braun's use of "shuttle-craft" in the Collier's article, to which he replied:
That's hard to know. Roddenberry was not a space buff, but he was an aviator, and he did a fair bit of research into pulp s-f prior to writing the series concept in 1964.

Skylon
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posted 05-16-2013 08:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Somewhat unrelated, but that artist's concept of a space shuttle launch in the article clearly got used as reference by the artist of a late 1970's "X-Men" comic.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 05-18-2013 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure where this came from. As a long time Star Trek fan, this is the first I've heard of it. I would never think (and have never thought) that ST gave rise to the term 'space shuttle.'

By the way, a bit of trivia: In the second ST movie can be heard a page for Captain Spock to report to a 'space shuttle' to take him to the Enterprise.

Dave Clow
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posted 05-19-2013 12:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave Clow   Click Here to Email Dave Clow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd be surprised if Roddenberry didn't know about it. I gather that he prided himself on being far-ranging and curious in his interests, including the facts of space exploration. Bruce Murray from Caltech/JPL tells the story in his book Journey Into Space about the moment in 1977 when Congressional support for the Galileo mission to Jupiter was wavering. Politicians and scientists weighed in from across the country, as you could expect, but not to be dismissed were the Trekkies, whose support Roddenberry personally mobilized at a Star Trek convention. (Permit me to plug the full story about Galileo as a two-parter in the forthcoming issues of Quest, the History of Spaceflight Quarterly.)

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 05-19-2013 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't have the book handy, but if I recall correctly, there's a letter in "Letters to Star Trek" referring to NASA's orbiters as 'shuttlecrafts.' It had to with a person who wrote to Roddenberry wanting to start a real-life Space Federation, with the intent to ship up parts for a real-life USS Enterprise "in NASA's shuttlecrafts," starting in 1979, with the intention of setting off for Alpha Centauri.

Maybe in a not-really backronym this is how the rumor got started and evolved into Star Trek lending the term 'space shuttle' to NASA?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-11-2013 10:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The National Archives has presented online an interesting memo providing additional insight into the origins of "space shuttle" as the formal name for NASA's fleet of orbiters...
Just one day before President Nixon and NASA publicly announced the development of the Space Shuttle, there was still debate over the official name for the program. This White House memo to the President argues that:
The term "shuttle" has a connotation of second class travel and lacks excitement...
Among the alternative names provided were Yankee Clipper, Pegasus, and Starlighter.

White House Memo; Peter Flanigan to President Nixon, January 4, 1972.

All times are CT (US)

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