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What's in a name?

Posted by: Andy Hill - Wed Nov 02, 2005 9:17 am
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What's in a name? 
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Post What's in a name?   Posted on: Wed Nov 02, 2005 9:17 am
My young son asked me the other day why the spacecraft for the moon landings were called Apollo and I explained that they were named after the Greek god who supposedly brought life giving heat and light to the Earth. I then went on to explain (pretty badly) to my 8 year old how this was related to the space program.

But the point is it got me thinking, in the past programs have always had such names (Mercury, Gemini etc) but now we get terms like CEV, CXV or OSP. When did we start to substitute names that inspire with a few letters?

Even "the vision for Space Exploration" is occationally shortened to VSE and IMO has a lot of political overtones associated with it. Sure you could argue that Apollo and the others were just as political but they were slightly different (a whole country wanting to beat the Russians as opposed to internal politics- I dont think that the Democrates would have floated the VSE -shudder).

Could this be indicative of how NASA and others have lost some of the wonder that space held and shows traces of just another project?

I think that NASA has missed an opportunity and should have given the program a name that inspires (afterall isn't that one of the goals-encouraging kids to go into engineering and science). Also it should be a short single word so that it cant be abbreviated to more meaningless letters.

Any thoughts, I would like to hear what people think about using initials rather than just producing a list of different names ? :)

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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:04 pm
I thought VentureStar was a good name....


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 02, 2005 12:21 pm
JamesHughes wrote:
I thought VentureStar was a good name....


...and so the list begins. I guess I should have realised it would be impossible to avoid. :roll:

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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:16 pm
This reminds me of a short science fiction story I once read that was written in both the 1930's and the modern style. All the main phrases had two wordings separated by slashes, including the name, which was, "A Space Opera for Traditionalists / Modernists". I am thinking of one sentence that went something like this:
Buzz piloted his strato-cruiser / XMJ-1432P and with the help of his faithful companion Rusty / 27 separate computers to a perfect landing.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 02, 2005 3:03 pm
Exactly people used to drive around in camper vans now they are behind the wheel of an RV. This modern day tendancy to reduce names to a function and then abbreviate it is sapping the interest out of everything.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 02, 2005 4:04 pm
Well, the names are still there... the EELVs are Titan and Atlas, STS is Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavor. Musk is gonna fly the Falcon, and Carmack is building Armadillo. Russia flies the Soyuz and is building the Klipper, while ESA has the Ariane.

I am sure that the SDHLLV will end up with some name, but it may be difficult to find one not already used; perhaps we can select from modern mythology (the "Gandalf" Heavy Launcher... just to annoy publi!).

It may be the media, or perhaps even this very medium, which is responsible for the whole alphabet soup phenomenon (witness Andy's stab at irony in the original post), but my speculation is that it will only continue. It's just a lot easier to say "the VSE's CEV is IMO the best way to get the USA's NASA back into manned spaceflight ASAP"

...easy, but not pretty. Engineers are usually lousy poets.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 02, 2005 4:49 pm
SawSS1Jun21 wrote:
I am sure that the SDHLLV will end up with some name


How about "Constellation" http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/051102/clw514.html?.v=16

Who likes it? Who hates it?

I think it sounds pretty good, "Today the Constellation 8 mission landed humans on the moon for the first time in 50 years..."

But NASA's site doesn't actually say that "Constellation" is the name of the actual mission program, maybe just the development, or the NASA department...

http://exploration.nasa.gov/constellation/index.html


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 02, 2005 5:09 pm
An honorable name, once used for the greatest of airliners: http://members.tripod.com/~N73544/ Connie's a good name.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:12 pm
SawSS1Jun21 wrote:
I am sure that the SDHLLV will end up with some name, but it may be difficult to find one not already used; perhaps we can select from modern mythology (the "Gandalf" Heavy Launcher... just to annoy publi!).


It already had a name or two; MAGNUM/Longfellow.
Visit www.nasaspaceflight.com and go to the SDLV section.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 02, 2005 9:09 pm
publiusr wrote:
It already had a name or two; MAGNUM/Longfellow.
Visit www.nasaspaceflight.com and go to the SDLV section.


MAGNUM? Lets have a really big launcher eh Publiusr? and call it BALTHAZAR or NEBUCHADNEZZAR. :)

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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 03, 2005 10:46 am
Coming from the software world, where acronymns etc rule the world, I think it's just because engineers like to shorten the stuff they're working on for ease of use, or out of sheer habit.

I went on a training course recently, and spent half the day trying to remember what each of the acronymns actually meant - if they'd said the full word, I would have had no problem understanding. But of course, sooner or later those acronymns just become part of your vocabulary!

I don't think it's lack of wonder - just lots of engineers. :wink:

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Post Re: What's in a name?   Posted on: Thu Nov 03, 2005 3:54 pm
In the era of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo we were in a race and it was safe to use inspiring names like these, the program was named, built and the vehicle was flown. In today’s era of cancelled programs it’s not safe to use the cool and inspiring names of old. There are only so many Greek gods and we would soon run out with all of them being cancelled.

Knowing NASA there was most likely a study that cost them a great sum of money that told them this. :D


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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 03, 2005 4:19 pm
I'd kinda like to name the new HLLV concept NOVA--but that might hex it. An exploding star? I don't think so. That name would probably be a jinx.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:35 am
No, mate, nova is a far older word than that; it means "new" in Latin. A name such as Aurora Nova would be quite appropriate, in my opinion.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Nov 04, 2005 5:47 pm
publiusr wrote:
I'd kinda like to name the new HLLV concept NOVA--but that might hex it. An exploding star? I don't think so. That name would probably be a jinx.


Nova has been used, it was pre-Saturn project.

http://www.astronautix.com/lvfam/nova.htm


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