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Did Star Trek Inspire Word ‘Shuttle’? Sorry, No

Mother Nature Network disputes revised history from shuttle restoration team

The people behind the restoration of what was once a prop from the original “Star Trek” series, are trying to drum up some attention of their efforts to practically recreate the shuttlecraft Galileo, and may be using some revisionist history to do it.

Alec Peters, the person who runs a television and movie memorabilia auction house, recently told Canada’s Space that not only was the first NASA shuttle named “Enterprise,” but it was Star Trek itself that inspired the use of the term “shuttle,” all thanks to the 1967 introduction of the shuttlecraft to the series.

“The Galileo is such an important part of Star Trek, and not only to Star Trek, it was important to literally the consciousness of the space program.” Peters said. “It really is the precursor to the space shuttle Enterprise.”

Adam Schneider, the Deloitte principal and private Star Trek collector who actually fronted the cash to buy the dilapidated prop last year, pushed it even more, saying that NASA referred to what would later become shuttles as “tugs,” that would simply bring cargo into orbit. But once the episode “The Galileo Seven” premiered in January 1967, that quickly changed to “shuttle.”

But that may not be necessarily true, according to research done by Mother Nature Network.

In fact, Bell Aerosystems wrote a report on what would become the shuttle program called “Space Shuttle of the Future: The Aerospaceplane.” While not looking to actually name it “shuttle,” the word was being used as a descriptive — in 1965, before “Star Trek” even went on the air.

Of course, that’s an internal report, and probably only had limited eyes on it, so others who were not privy to it might have learned to call the shuttle “shuttle” after “Star Trek.” Right? Wrong again.

Collier’s magazine, which had been charged with convincing Americans in the early days of the Space Age that it was time to go to space, wrote a story with rocketeer Wernher von Braun that said “on approaching the space station, the tine shuttlecraft will drive directly into an air dock.” That was published in 1952 — nearly 15 years before “The Galileo Seven” premiered.

The term would appear again in various media articles, including the Defense Space Business Daily which changed its terminology from “aerospaceplane” to “shuttle” in 1963 — four years before the Galileo.

Okudagram creator and longtime Star Trek alum Michael Okuda acknowledged that “Star Trek” may not have created the word, but its use may still have had some of an influence.

“Even if the show did not coin the term ‘shuttlecraft,’ I would not be surprised if its use on ‘Star Trek’ was responsible for bringing it into the lexicon,” Okuda said.

Photo courtesy of Don Hillenbrand

Source: Mother Nature Network

About the Author
Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for 1701News, Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus, and a co-founder of 1701News. He lives in Tampa, Fla.

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