These Are the Voyages…

Isn’t this the most wonderful mashup of science reality and science fiction EVAR? It’s the cast of the original Star Trek (sans the Shat) and Trek creator Gene Roddenberry at the dedication ceremony for NASA’s first space shuttle orbiter, the Enterprise.

Really, was there any other name they could have given this first shuttle? Well, actually, yes. The original name was going to be the Constitution, because shuttle construction was slated to be completed in 1976, America’s bicentennial year. However, when NASA made this announcement, they were inundated by letters from thousands of Trek fans who simply could not believe that anyone would dare suggest a name other than Enterprise for the first shuttle. NASA wisely rethought their plans…and meta history was made.

What could be cooler than this, you might ask? Allow Loba to show you.

What’s that? Is that…could it be…?

Well, yeah, that sure does look like a space shuttle. And that ginormous American flag must mean it’s an honest-to-goodness original! But…is it the Enterprise?

Would I give you anything less, denizens?

A brief explanation: In December 2003, the Smithsonian opened their Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Northern Virginia’s Dulles International Airport. This center, an annex of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM), became the showcase for all of the larger pieces that NASM had collected over the years, like the Enterprise, but had no room at their D.C. location to showcase. Most of these pieces had been in storage for years, hidden away from public viewing, sometimes rolled out to the downtown museum for temporary exhibits but never finding a permanent home.

Pieces like the controversial Enola Gay, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic bomb, code name “Little Boy,” on Hiroshima, Japan:

Or this Air France Concorde supersonic airliner:

(Can’t forget a shot of that famous needle nose!)

Or this beauty, the Clipper Flying Cloud, the only surviving Boeing 307 Stratoliner in existence:

Or the always X-citing SR-71 Blackbird (please, someone get my geeky comic book joke!):

The SR-71 and the Enterprise? There might actually be more awesome than legally allowed in this shot:

Okay, I think you get the general idea. The Udvar-Hazy is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing museums within the Smithsonian Institution. Why it took me this long to finally visit is beyond my comprehension. However, I can assure you that if you live within driving distance of this museum and you’re a big geek like me, then you need to visit. And, if you’re ever coming to the D.C. area, you should schedule a nice solid chunk of afternoon to pay a visit. You won’t regret it.