Enterprise Goes on Maiden Flight
On this day in history, 1977, Enterprise (the first Space Shuttle Orbiter) took its maiden flight while mated atop a modified Boeing 747.
Enterprise was manufactured for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to execute test flights in the atmosphere. Enterprise did not have engines or a functional heat shield, and was thus not capable of spaceflight.
On January 31, 1977, the space shuttle orbiter was transported by road from Rockwell’s Air Force Plant 42 to Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base to begin testing.
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It was there that Enterprise was mated atop a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) to study structural loads and ground handling and braking characteristics of the mated system.
After nine months of testing, it was verified that the orbiter could fly in the atmosphere and land like an airplane, except without power-gliding flight.
The Enterprise was originally to be named Constitution in honor of the U.S. Constitution’s Bicentennial; however, fans of Star Trek began a write-in campaign begging the White House to use the name Enterprise.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense