No…despite the post title, I’m not going to talk about sex. Sorry to disappoint some of you, but after all, JuicyMaters IS a family safe site!
Anyway, I’m sitting here this morning watching a cable news channel (actually using the news as background noise while I work on this, and other, of my websites) and my ears perk up when they start talking about the delivery of the space shuttle “Enterprise” to New York to be installed on the decommissioned aircraft carrier “Intrepid“.
Being a child of folks in the generation that gave us space travel somewhere besides in sci-fi books, shows, and movies…in other words “in real life”…everything space and NASA related has always been one of my interests, and this morning’s delivery of “Enterprise” made me quit writing for you folks and actually start WATCHING the TV rather than using it in the background. Some of the historical facts they were weaving into the coverage were things I didn’t know, but that are interesting and I’m glad I know now.
Did you know that the first space shuttle, the one ferried to New York this morning, was not named “Enterprise” to start with?
It was named “Constitution”, but Trekkies…extreme fans of the TV show “Star Trek”…started a write-in campaign to congress and to NASA and got the shuttle re-named “Enterprise” after the ship featured in the TV show, the “Starship Enterprise”.
A shuttle, the “Enterprise”, flew, but never flew in low-earth orbit.
The “Enterprise” was an experimental model, never intended to travel into space. It’s only “air time” was when it was taken aloft like we are used to seeing it moved, like today…on the back of a Boeing 747. It did not always land that way, however.
There were 6 “flights”, one unmanned and 5 with a testing crew, in which the Enterprise was taken aloft and landed attached to the 747. These flights were to test systems and to see how the combination flew and how the combined craft responded. (The pucker factor for the first 747 pilot on the first flight must have been REALLY high…LOL. If you don’t know what “pucker factor” is, I’m not telling…this IS a family-safe blog).
The Mercury program
NASA’s Mercury program put us in space, but only as a “just to say we were there” announcement to the world. This (early 1960’s) was when Russia was still the Soviet Union and we were in the middle of the cold war…and the Soviets had beaten us into space, and Mercury was our answer to prove we were in the space race too.
Then came the Gemini program, and a cool little factoid I learned today that ties all this Mercury and Gemini and Enterprise stuff together…
“…really, Bob? You are FINALLY going to get to the point?”
Gemini was NASA’s first manned program where the craft was intended to maneuver in space, rather than just being an object controlled by it’s momentum, and Gemini 3 was the first mission where that actually happened, with astronauts Gus Grissom and
John Young aboard, and here comes the cool part…this first mission, where we actually controlled out flight through space, ended when the capsule was plucked from the Pacific Ocean by the carrier USS Intrepid. The Intrepid is the now-decommissioned aircraft carrier that is an air and space museum docked in the Hudson River in New York City…and is the final stop for the Enterprise!
First controlled flight…Gemini 3, is displayed on the Intrepid, which picked it up after splashdown, displayed alongside Enterprise, the last controlled, manned NASA program FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
One more cool fact about all this:
Two vehicles prominent in exploring the unknown of space, Gemini 3 and Enterprise, sit on an aircraft carrier docked on a river, the Hudson River, that was named after another explorer, William “Henry” Hudson, who explored territory as unknown then as space is now.
I think that’s cool!
- Space shuttle Enterprise lands in New York after dramatic fly-by of Manhattan (al.com)
- Space shuttle Enterprise flies to New York- PHOTOS: Space shuttle Enterprise’s last flyby – uReport: Send your Enterprise pics (foxnews.com)
- Space Shuttle Enterprise Arrives in New York City (Pictures) (news.nationalgeographic.com)
- The Space Shuttle Enterprise Hitches 10 Absurd Rides (mashable.com)