Elon Musk has always treated the names for his impressive ventures a bit like a 14-year-old kid would. The lineup of Tesla’s cars was originally planned to spell SEXY (it’s closer to S3X at the moment, thanks to Ford), and the ambitious rocket system and associated human-carrying spacecraft SpaceX has been developing has been called the BFR and BFS, for “Big Fucking Rocket” and sometimes known as “Big Fucking Spaceship,” though officially SpaceX says it’s Big Falcon Rocket. Well, now it’s neither.
Because this is Earth in 2018, this news was delivered via tweet:
SpaceX often just refers to the launcher/spaceship combination as the “BFR,” though a later tweet confirmed that the launcher and spacecraft will have separate names:
So, the hopefully interplanetary spacecraft will be named “Starship” and the large, heavy-lift booster will be named “Super Heavy.”
People did have some issues with the names, most notably that traditionally—well, if fiction counts—we’ve only called vessels that can travel between stars “starships” and the SpaceX proposed spacecraft isn’t really designed for that.
I mean, it could, in the sense that spacecraft like the Voyager probes are interstellar, but they’re so slow as to be useless for interstellar travel, really.
Of course, this was pointed out on Twitter, and Elon had an answer:
I applaud Elon’s vision here, but it would have to be more than another “version” to be a viable interstellar spacecraft; it would have to be an entirely different sort of ship, using technologies that we’ve not even developed yet.
But, whatever, it’s good to dream big. That’s how it all starts, anyway.
Besides, it will be in operation around one star, and there really isn’t a snappy name for a spacecraft that’s limited to one solar system.
It is kind of a dippy name, though. Starship. Super Heavy. It sounds like names you’d find on a crappy mid-’80s Saturday morning cartoon series about a group of teens who fly around in a spaceship with a goofy, always-hungry alien squid-dog as they foil interstellar minor real-estate fraud.