Inspired by this question, is there a canon explanation for the Space Shuttle Enterprise's name?

Of course in real history, it was named for the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 seen in TOS.
However, since the Enterprise credits show the space shuttle, is there a different reason for the shuttle's name, or does TOS as a show actually exist in the Star Trek timeline?

Although the suggested duplicate question is similar, it only answers why the starships were named Enterprise, not the NASA Space Shuttle. Some comments do mention the real-life letter-writing campaign, but it doesn't specify if that event occurred within the Star Trek universe timeline.

Since I doubt there's an on-screen answer, I'll accept novels, comics, and any other EU material.

  • 10
    its most likely related to the the fact that enterprise has been a common name for navel vessels throughout history. however, we also have cross contamination throughout history from travelers from the future.
    – Himarm
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 1:34
  • 6
    I just realized this question has a direct impact on rewriting my own life history. I was one of the people who signed the petitions to rename the first space shuttle Enterprise after the good ol' NCC-1701. So if Trek ever gave a canon explanation, that rewrites that entire event and changes my life history in the Trek universe.
    – Tango
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 1:45
  • 6
    I believe this covers both in and out of universe: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/30594/…
    – Mazura
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 1:48
  • 2
    This question kind of blew my mind.
    – Austin
    Commented Oct 14, 2015 at 9:47
  • 2
    All of the Space Shuttle orbiters were named after antique naval sailing vessels, and Enterprise OV-101 is no exception. Although the name was chosen due to a letter writing campaign by Trekkies, it could just as easily have become the name without a Star Trek connection. (Although, Constitution, another sailing vessel, was the front-runner, due to the 1976 bicentennial year.)
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


The Memory-Alpha article on OV-101 (Enterprise) says this in the Apocrypha section:

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.

The Space Shuttle Enterprise is featured in Jonathan Archer's ready room, The refit USS Enterprise (Motion Picture), Benjamin Sisko's office, and in the alternate reality in Admiral Marcus's office.

It is clearly a part of the Star Trek history.

  • I completely missed the Apocrypha section of that entry earlier! Looks like that's the closest canon info available. Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 14:24
  • Additionally, in one of the on-screen appearances of the image of Space Shuttle Enterprise, it appears next to the old sailing ship called Enterprise (an 18th century British vessel, if I'm not mistaken). Anyway, in-universe, the name "Enterprise" has a long and storied history.
    – RobJarvis
    Commented Jul 2, 2021 at 13:28

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