Chair Force Engineer

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Name that CEV

Eventually, NASA will have to finalize one important aspect of the Crew Exploration Vehicle and Crew Launch Vehicle: the name.

Without a catchy name, people will be stuck with the harsh-sounding acronyms "CEV" and "CLV." And the vehicles will not endear themselves to the public or Congress. While the engineering that underpins these craft is important, the Public Relations decisions can sometimes be more crucial.

To that end, I have a few suggestions for the spacecraft's name.

ARTEMIS: In Greek mythology, the goddess of the Moon and the hunt. Also, the twin sister to Apollo.

SELENE: An alternate moon goddess in Greek mythology. The name was also used for Phillip Bono's plan to explore the moon with his plug-nozzle RLV, ROMBUS.

DIANE: The Roman form of the Greek Artemis. The name is probably unsuitable, as it is a fairly common name on earth.

MOONRAKER: Originally, the title of Ian Fleming's third James Bond novel, published in 1955. Although the movie used a Space Shuttle as "Moonraker," Fleming's Moonraker was a British ballistic missile, inspired by the V-2. Despite my preference for the novel, I'll always remember Q's last line from the movie: I think he's attempting re-entry...

SCORPIO: The legendary scorpion who killed Artemis's hunting companion, the mortal Orion.

CONSTELLATION: If the plan to explore the moon, Mars, and beyond is called "Project Constellation," then shouldn't the spacecraft also be called "Constellation"? It seems like the Constellation name has been dropped as the term "Vision for Space Exploration" has come into accepted use. Also, the CEV acronym is taking the place of a name for the spacecraft.

This situation is unlike what occurred for Apollo. Because the moon missions were "Project Apollo," the spacecraft was called "Apollo," and the portion of the spacecraft where the crew sat was the Command Module (CM.) If NASA doesn't settle on a name soon, CEV will stick as the name for the spacecraft instead of the crewed capsule.