|The 1982 "Space Platform" was the Station design President Ronald Reagan displayed to leaders of prospective Space Station International Partner nations in 1984. Image credit: NASA.|
Odom explained that the Space Station President Ronald Reagan had called upon NASA to build in his State of the Union Address of 25 January 1984 was about to enter its "development phase," so the time was ripe to decide on a name for it. He attached a NASA Management Instruction laying out guidelines for naming NASA projects and, more interestingly, a list of 16 names suggested by a Space Station Name Committee he had appointed. Each name included a brief rationale.
The naming rules were straightforward. Candidate names were to be simple and easily pronounced, not refer to living persons, neither duplicate nor closely resemble other NASA or non-NASA space program names, be translatable into the languages of the International Partners, and have neither ambiguous nor offensive meanings in the International Partner languages. In addition, acronyms were to be avoided. The naming process was not to be revealed to the public; if, however, members of the public happened to submit names that followed the rules, the Name Committee would consider them.
Pegasus was suggested because the Space Station would "dwell among the stars" like "the winged horse who ascended into Heaven." Olympia referred to the sacred grove where ancient Greece held its Olympic Games; the name was meant to invoke the spirit of international cooperation.
This last Station function must have come as a surprise to many on Odom's distribution list, for the Space Station was meant to serve as a laboratory; before 1988 it had lost essentially all of its transportation node capabilities, so had little hope of ever playing a significant role in the development of space resources. NASA planners, meanwhile, had moved toward the concept of a separate transportation node space station. They believed (with good reason) that separating transportation and laboratory functions would result in two stations with optimized designs.
Other names — Freedom, Independence, Liberty, and Unity — advertised U.S. political and social values, and thus followed Soviet convention. ("Soyuz," for example, means "Union," which refers to the multi-modular nature of the Soyuz spacecraft, but also to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.) Liberty also referred to breaking "the bond of Earth's gravitational pull," Unity to international cooperation, and Independence to “man’s first permanent step to be 'independent' of Earth."
Freedom, the Name Committee explained, was appropriate because the Space Station would "provide scientific and technological 'freedom' to explore avenues of research," as well as freedom "from the confines of gravity." In addition, freedom was "a political value central to all of the Space Station's international partners."
In his memorandum, Odom explained that names submitted to the Space Station Name Committee would be given to the NASA Administrator, who would make the final selection. In the end, though, the list of candidate names landed on President Reagan's desk. On 18 July 1988, NASA announced that he had selected the name Space Station Freedom.
|Space Station Freedom — sometimes referred to as Space Station "Fred" due to its much-reduced size and capabilities — in 1991. Image credit: NASA.|
During his single term in office, President George H. W. Bush, Clinton's predecessor, had concluded agreements first with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and then with Russian President Boris Yeltsin that called for, among other things, use of the Soyuz spacecraft as a Space Station Freedom lifeboat. Bush had stopped short of giving the Russians a central role in the NASA station; nevertheless, he laid groundwork for things to come.
President Clinton's decision to accept the Russian invitation to combine Alpha and Mir-2 had its critics. Nevertheless, the move created a geopolitical rationale that ensured broad Congressional support for the station for the first time. The combined space station would keep Russian rocketeers occupied so that they would not peddle their missile-manufacturing services internationally. In terms of space operations, the merger amounted to what was probably the first instance of Earth-orbital barter: the Russian segment would provide orbit-maintenance propulsion and early staffing in exchange for abundant electricity from the U.S. segment's enormous truss-mounted steerable solar arrays.
|The International Space Station in August 2005. Image credit: NASA.|
Following (mainly) Russian tradition, individual ISS modules have received names. The Mir-2 core module, a small independent space station NASA referred to as the "Service Module," was named Zvezda ("Star"), while the first U.S. component, Node 1 — a module designed as an attachment point for other modules — was dubbed Unity for reasons similar to those given by the 1988 Name Committee. Other names include Zarya ("Dawn") for the FGB propulsion and storage module, the first ISS component launched; Destiny for the U.S. Lab Module; Kibo ("Hope") for the Japanese lab; and Columbus for the European lab.
|The International Space Station in 2011. Image credit: NASA.|
Memorandum with attachments, S/Associate Administrator for Space Station to Distribution, "Naming the Space Station," 12 April 1988.
NASA's 1992 Plan to Land Soyuz Space Station Lifeboats in Australia
Skylab-Salyut Space Laboratory (1972)
He Who Controls the Moon Controls the Earth (1958)