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From Enterprise we know that the first two warp-5-capable NX-class starships were the NX-01 Enterprise and NX-02 Columbia.

Lo and behold, the U.S. Space Shuttle Orbiters were built in the following order:

Enterprise, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour

I take this as non-coincidental.

Is there a canon reference to the NX-class ships being named after the Space Shuttles?

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Watching the opening credits to Enterprise, its safe to assume the authors of the show intend to show that the NX-class Enterprise was named after its predecessors. While it shows the history of exploration vehicles that leads to the NX-Enterprise, in includes both the HMS Enterprise, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

According to Memory Alpha both the Columbia and Enterprise were named after the shuttles, interview on this seen on Enterprise: Season four special features.

The crew patch from the NX Columbia also mirrored the shuttles patch, including 7 stars.

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    Further, the Beta canon has the remainder of the NX class named after the shuttles. – Politank-Z Oct 13 '15 at 16:26
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    It also has non-Enterprise exploration vehicles, like Pathfinder. – Lexible Oct 13 '15 at 22:11
  • Cool, hadn't seen the NX-02 patch. +1 – Organic Marble Oct 13 '15 at 23:32
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    Correct me if I am wrong, but was not the first shuttle actually named because of Star Trek? – alemus Nov 18 '16 at 19:49
  • @alemus the shuttle itself was popularly named the TOS enterprise. however, since the TV show Startrek Enterprise, came out after the shuttle, in the TV show they show and tell WHY the Starship Enterprise got its name. Kind of an after the fact, real world explanation. – Himarm Nov 18 '16 at 19:52

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