Two congressmen propose naming SLS for astronaut Gene Cernan

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Two congressman yesterday introduced legislation that would rename SLS after Eugene Cernan, the last Apollo astronaut to walk on the Moon.

I don’t think anyone would argue with this. First, SLS is a terrible name for the rocket. Second, Cernan deserves the recognition.

At the same time, I suspect this is happening as part of an overall push within the Washington community to sell SLS to Trump and his administration. This proposal, as well as the recent news stories proposing SLS/Orion Moon missions and putting astronauts on SLS’s first flight, all point to a lobbying effort inside NASA, Congress, and the big space community to save SLS, which when compared to the successes and achievements of commercial space since 2010 appears an abject failure.

That comparison is at the heart of my policy paper, Capitalism in Space, which will hit the newstands next week. It makes it very clear how much a failure SLS/Orion has been, and how embarrassing that failure stands when compared to commercial space.



  • M Puckett

    Cernan would be a good name for an in-space vehicle.

    Name the booster something from mythology.

    Like Jupiter, Thor or Neptune.

  • Diane Wilson

    For such a preposterous moon rocket, the only conceivable choice to me is Jules Verne. Thankfully, he’s too dead to raise much of an objection.

  • wayne


    along that same vein…
    Musk could name one of his rockets, the “John Carter.”

  • M Puckett: Jupiter and Thor were IRBM’s from the 1950’s; the Jupiter was the follow-on to the Thor.

    I believe Jupiter 2 (from ‘Lost in Space’) is still available.

    I’m not sure if a person as accomplished as Eugene Cernan would want to be associated with SLS. I’m not aware that anyone asked him while he was alive.

    Fun facts about Capt. Cernan: he holds the Lunar land speed record (18 kph), and was a crew member aboard Apollo 10 when it set the absolute speed record for a manned vehicle.

    As for Space Launch System, an anagram generator comes up with Spaceman Such Style.

  • Joe From Houston

    The most important part of this blog entry are these words: “Capitalism in Space”

    Good show, Bob. I await your arriving words of wisdom. Everyone knows its not the name of a rocket that gets it launched or the fact we desire to put national heroes on previously unmanned rockets. Its the powerful person who decides to make it happen for loftier reasons and is capable of changing or influencing everyone’s belief around it. I believe it will be to make the most money in the shortest time before time runs out and we pursue other loftier goals.

    Here are the choices.

    1) Keep SLS funded at billions of dollars per year using justifiable promises after promises until something better, cheaper, and faster comes along (hint, hint).
    2) Flood the market with cheap access to space rocket types that never fly because they are declared unsafe by the SLS proponents who have the power to draw the line in the sand.
    3) Flood the market with cheap access to space rocket types that fly around the big elephant in the room (GAO, NASA, Congress, SLS Proponents) and send rich risk takers into space.

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