A couple months ago, I wrote a piece on my “catch-all” blog imploring NASA to give SLS a fitting name. As I stated there:
“While our nation’s spacefaring endeavors might only be a few decades old, surely we haven’t run out of ‘cool’ names for our rockets. Come on – this is America…WE LANDED PEOPLE ON THE MOON!!!! We can do better than calling it ‘SLS’.
NASA: Names matter. Make it happen.”
Perhaps NASA’s Administrator, Charlie Bolden, read that piece. In an interview on the July 23, 2016, edition of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, Bolden might’ve just let the proverbial cat out of the bag.
Show host Peter Sagal had been engaging Mr. Bolden in a line of conversation, eventually leading up to Sagal asking: “Charlie, I’ve got to ask you, when are we really going to Mars?”
Without missing a beat, Bolden replied [emphasis added]: “We’re going to Mars in the 2030s. So we’ve got the vehicle called – we’re going to name it but right now we call it the Space Launch System. It’s a heavy lift launch vehicle.”
So, it would appear that SLS may, indeed, be getting a name less clinical-sounding and more appropriate for the vehicle meant to carry craft, crew, and robotic explorers far beyond low earth orbit. I sincerely hope so. Good on you, Mr. Bolden. Now…let’s just hope it’s a good name.