In 2293, the Challenger was assigned a deep space exploration mission. The ship was named on a Starship Mission Assignments chart on the USS Enterprise-A bridge. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Background information Edit
In the non-canon board game Star Fleet Battles, USS Challenger was a Byrd-class Galactic Survey Cruiser, a modification of the Constitution-class which replaces the photon torpedoes with special scientific sensor equipment. As a tribute to the space shuttle Challenger, USS Challenger was never to be used in any story or scenario where it could possibly be destroyed.(citation needed • edit)
This starship may have been named after the British corvette HMS Challenger, which became the first ship in 1872 to chart the depths of the Earth's oceans. Later ships, including the Apollo Lunar Module Challenger and the space shuttle Challenger, were named in honor of this 19th century ship.