Take a look at rare photos showing the early years of...

, United Arab Emirates (CNN)–The first space shuttle NASA was supposed to be called “Constitution”, in reference to the United States’ bicentennial that year. However, Star Trek fans pushed US President Gerald Ford to change his mind.

Instead, the orbiter was dubbed “Enterprise”, just like the spacecraft on the TV show.

For this reason, Star Trek crew members were among the crowd at the unveiling of the Space Shuttle in September of 1976.

They can also be seen in one of 450 previously unpublished and rarely seen photographs in a new book from University of Florida Press, “Picturing the Space Shuttle: The Early Years.”

The book chronicles the shuttle program from 1965 through 1982.

Rare photos show the early years of the space shuttle era
Astronauts Robert Crippen and John Young aboard Columbia in 1980.
Credit: NASA

“Most of the books available for the Shuttle try to do a lot, and cover the entire program,” said book co-author John Bisney. “When you have 135 flights over 30 years, it’s hard to sum it up in one book.”

Instead, Bisney’s book, which he co-authored with J. The. Pickering, a unique look at the early development of the Shuttle, the world’s first reusable spacecraft, with a wealth of exotic drawings, and others showing alternative designs some of which still look wonderfully futuristic.

Rare photos show the early years of the space shuttle era
Former astronaut Dick Slayton, who was the shuttle’s OFT program manager, explains upcoming flights at a press conference in April 1977.
Credit: NASA

The shuttle, officially called the STS, or Space Transportation System, flew into space for the first time on April 12, 1981.

The shuttle was not tested by doing an unmanned launch first.

Rare photos show the early years of the space shuttle era
This image shows the 1979 Columbia, ready to fly aboard a Boeing 747.
Credit: NASA

Astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen flew the orbiter, Columbia, for 54 hours before landing safely on Earth.

The book’s time frame ends after the fourth shuttle mission, which was a test flight that paved the way for operational missions.

Rare photos show the early years of the space shuttle era
The STS-2 space shuttle on November 11, 1981.
Credit: NASA

Many of the images came from Pickering’s personal archive, which is one of the world’s largest private collections of images of manned spaceflight.

And Besny said he gives all the credit to Pickering, as he had a lot to sort out.

“One of the things that sets us apart is the focus on unusual images, which are rarely seen,” Besny said.

When going to a library, and choosing a book about the space shuttle, one will usually see repeated images.

While that’s understandable as being “cool photos,” Bisney puts it, “there’s more to show for you,” he said.

The sense of anticipation surrounding the shuttle programme, which has carried American astronauts into space for the first time since the Apollo-Soyuz experimental project in 1975, is evident in many of the images.

The STS shuttle retired in 2011, with 5 orbiters built (only 4 flew into space), two of which were lost in accidents in 1986 and 2003.

“When you have 135 missions, it’s terrible to lose two of them,” Besny said, emphasizing that spaceflight is risky.

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