Sunday, January 29, 2006

Naming NASA's New Spaceships

There's a contest on to name NASA's proposed new space vehicles: the crew launch vehicle, the crew exploration vehicle, and the lunar lander. (Here.) In keeping with NASA's tradition of using names from Roman or Greek mythology here are some suggestions.

Launch vehicle: Jupiter. The new launch vehicle is intended to send humans back to the moon and then on to Mars. The Saturn launch vehicle was the big daddy of all launch vehicles and the first to send humans to another world. In Roman mythology Saturn is the father of Jupiter, and Jupiter is the lord of the skies.

Crew Exploration Vehicle: Odysseus or Ulysses. He is the hero of the Greeks in the Trojan War and the greatest traveler in ancient mythology. The CEV is intended to take humans on missions of exploration into the Solar System, perhaps the greatest travel story in modern history. The Roman version of the name, Ulysses, sounds better to this American ear and also has roots in American history with President U. S. Grant. Unfortunately, NASA has already wasted the name on an unmanned satellite. (Here.) Maybe it'll be dead by the time the CEV is ready to fly and the name will become available.

The Lunar Lander: Artemis. She is the Greek goddess of the crescent new moon. Selene is the goddess of the full moon and Hecate is the goddess of the waning moon. Artemis sounds better and Selene sounds a bit too much like the name of a certain Canadian pop singer. "Houston, we have touchdown. The Selene Dion is on the moon."



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