Forty-five years after its public debut, NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise is deployed again, this time as a rolling ballpoint pen.
Retro 51 announced Tuesday, September 21 its new space shuttle Enterprise Tornado, the latest in its line of collectible writing instruments. The limited-edition pen continues a collaboration that since 2019 has inspired some of the Retro 51’s space-themed designs while supporting the next generation of explorers.
“We are delighted to announce that Retro 51 and the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation have once again partnered to honor those who continue to reach for the stars with the Enterprise Tornado space shuttle,” the pen company said.
Enterprise, or OV-101, was NASA’s first winged orbiter prototype. On September 17, 1976, NASA deployed Enterprise from its assembly plant in Palmdale, California. Named in response to a letter-writing campaign by Star Trek fans, the creator and cast members of the television series were there to see the “predecessor” of their (fictional) Starship Enterprise come true.
Related: A space shuttle called ‘Enterprise’ in photos
Following: NASA Space Shuttles: Where Are They Now?
Although he had never flown into space, Enterprise, the shuttle orbiter, was instrumental in ensuring that the facilities used to launch his sister ships were ready and that the vehicles were capable of return safely from space as a non-motorized glider.
“The test flights with the Space Shuttle Enterprise brought several important benefits to the overall space shuttle program,” said Fred Haise, who, after flying Apollo 13, was one of two test commanders for Enterprise approach and landing in 1977.
Related: Final journey of the Space Shuttle Enterprise (photos)
The flights in the back of a Boeing 747 shuttle carrier helped “the early identification of problems and the maturation of the difficult new digital multi-computer system,” Haise said. “They [also]served to generate positive NASA media during the gap [in flights]between Apollo-Soyuz and the first retarded [shuttle]orbital mission. “
The Space Shuttle Enterprise and future Space Shuttle missions rekindled the country’s passion for space travel and inspired a new generation. Today, the Enterprise Orbiter is on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City.
The Retro 51 Space Shuttle Enterprise Tornado recreates the look of the iconic orbiter with graphics imprinted on the pen’s stainless steel body, protected by a gloss varnish and finished with black nickel accents. Each Enterprise Tornado is engraved with a limited edition number in a 1958 series for the year NASA was founded.
The top disk features the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation logo. The pen comes in a graphic commemorative tube.
Sales of the Retro 51 Enterprise Tornado space shuttle began Tuesday, September 21 at noon EDT (4:00 p.m. GMT) through the company’s U.S. retailers and some international distributors. The pen costs $ 60 each.
Additionally, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation will sell the pen through their online store packaged with an autographed print by Haise for $ 200.
The Space Shuttle Enterprise is the latest space-themed tornado offered by Retro 51. Previous versions included pens that resemble the Mercury-Redstone, Gemini-Titan and Apollo-Saturn V rockets, a pen from the Hubble Space Telescope, a special limited edition pen for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and a Space Shuttle Discovery Tornado in partnership with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
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