Everyone's favorite spaceflight in-jokes


our June 21, 2006 edition of Geek Trivia, "Space ship, too," I challenged my readership to select four spaceship

namesakes for four future Virgin Galactic passenger spacecraft, preferably

inspired by science and/or science fiction. Over 100 entries later, seven spacecraft (and/or auteurs of same) rose above the fray. Thus, I give you the seven most inspired spacecraft namesakes of all time. Well, by TechRepublic standards, anyway.

  1. Galileo, inspired equally by earth-shattering Renaissance astronomer Galileo Galilei and by Rocket Ship Galileo, the seminal SF novel by the late, great Robert A. Heinlein.
  2. Goddard, as in Robert H. Goddard, the pioneering rocket scientist.
  3. Constellation has many science and SF references, including a group of distinguished U.S. Navy vessels, a group of Starfleet vessels from Star Trek, the space shuttle successor being developed by NASA under the name Project Constellation, and actual constellations of stars.
  4. Heart of Gold (tied for third), the infamous Infinite Improbability Drive starship from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galalxy sci-fi/comedy novel/radio/TV/movie series.
  5. Heinlein, as in the aforementioned Robert A. Heinlein, one of the most prolific, influential, and revered science fiction authors of all time.
  6. Jules Verne (tied for fifth), as in Jules Verne (duh), arguably the forefather of all "hard" science fiction, and reputedly the most-translated author in the world.
  7. Skylark, a reference to science fiction author E.E. "Doc" Smith's widely read Skylark series of novels, which featured the crew of the spaceship Skylark, which arguably launched the genre of "space opera" in the 1920s.

Honorable mentions (collectively tied for eighth):

Isaac Asimov, Britannia, Eagle, Falcon (as in, Millennium), Firefly, Kitty Hawk, Roddenberry, Serenity, Werner Von Braun, and H. G. Wells.

I have to say, I'm impressed at the breadth of knowledge and the concordance of import given to scientists and sci-fi authors alike. Very nice.