For five years now Chris, Jeff and other Take Back the Sky volunteers have been telling you on various blogs and podcasts, on social media and at cons across the Eastern United States why they believe the first manned SpaceX Dragon should be named Serenity.
Well, we think it’s high time we hear from you!
Why do you think Elon Musk and his crew at SpaceX should name the first of their Dragon V2 capsules after the transport ship from Joss Whedon’s Firefly? What would it mean to you personally to see a privately-owned, American spaceship bear that name?
Or… are you one of those who disagree? If so, why? Do you have another name in mind? Why do you think it’d be better than Serenity? (Fans of Star Trek and Star Wars should keep in mind that NASA and SpaceX have already named vehicles after ships from those franchises, so we’re going to be less receptive to the notion that doing it again is a worthier idea.)
We’ll be featuring (and discussing) some of the most interesting responses in a future post on this site. If you want your comments to be included, be sure to contact us no later than July 31.
We look forward to hearing from you. Until then, peace, love and rockets…
Since 2012, we at Take Back the Sky have been leading a grassroots effort to convince SpaceX to name the first of its manned space capsules after Serenity, the fictional spaceship from Joss Whedon’s science-fiction television series Firefly and feature film Serenity. Despite the fact that we’ve devoted a lot of space as of late (yes, the pun is intended) to covering the many launches that SpaceX has completed so far this year, we still think it’s important that we not lose sight of our raison d’être. To that end, here are ten good reasons why we believe the first manned SpaceX Dragon should be named Serenity…
SpaceX is set to launch yet another commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). A Falcon9 will carry an unmanned Dragon into the black from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:55pm EDT on Thursday evening, June 1 (If no attempt at a launch is possible during the instantaneous launch window, a backup launch window is set for Saturday, June 3 at 5:07pm EDT).
As is often the case with SpaceX launches, this one aims to make a bit of history. First off, it will be the 100th launch from LC-39A, which has been the site of myriad launches from the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs as well as more recent SpaceX launches. In addition, the Dragon space capsule being used to support the CRS-11 mission previously resupplied the International Space Station on SpaceX’s CRS-4 mission in September of 2014.
CRS-11 is the eleventh of up to twenty planned commercial resupply missions to the ISS by Elon Musk and company. This time around, the Dragon will carry almost 3 tons of supplies and payloads, including critical materials that are needed to support many of the more than 250 science experiments that will occur during ISS Expeditions 52 and 53. ISS crew members will use the station’s robotic “Canadarm2” to reach out and capture the Dragon spacecraft and attach it to the station on June 4. She’ll stay berthed to the station for approximately one month, at which time she’ll return to Earth laden with experiments and other materials being sent home from the ISS and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.
And when the Falcon9 breaks atmo and sends the Dragon on her way, the first stage booster will return to land at SpaceX’s LZ-1 landing zone at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Considered to be impractical if not impossible by many skeptics just a few years ago, this has now become almost a standard feature of SpaceX launches, with the only real question asked nowadays being “will they bring it back by land or by sea?”
CRS-11 is also a special mission for us here at Take Back the Sky, because we hope to convince SpaceX to name the first Dragon 2 variant of this very spacecraft (which is being developed to transport American crews to and from the station as early as 2018) after the transport ship Serenity from Joss Whedon’s sci-fi series Firefly (and the subsequent motion picture that shared its name with the ship). A successful resupply mission involving a Dragon is always a great opportunity for Browncoats to write a letter to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk and president Gwynne Shotwell to congratulate them on their ongoing success and let them know that they think Serenity would be a very shiny name for the first Dragon to take US astronauts into the black.
SpaceX’s webcast of the launch will go live approximately 20 minutes before liftoff. We invite you to watch along with us, and envision what it will be like to watch a Dragon named Serenity return US astronauts to space from American soil in the not-so-distant future.
We are happy to announce that Take Back the Sky will be at the PA Browncoats table (booth #409) on the floor at Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con this coming weekend, June 1-4 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Our fellow Browncoats Tequila Matt Black and Bob Averell and their crew will be at the con with a petition you can sign asking SpaceX to name the first of their manned Dragon space capsules Serenity. They’ll also have templates for form letters to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk and President Gwynne Shotwell as well as special “Leaf on the Wind” sheets that you can mail to them, all to let them know you think naming SpaceX’s first Crew Dragon Serenity is a right shiny idea!
The PA Browncoats won’t just be there to promote Take Back the Sky though. They’ll also be spreading the word about this year’s Browncoat Ball, which will be held in Gettysburg, PA in August, as well as Pennsylvania’s Can’t Stop the Serenity charity events in Philadelphia (June 3 and June 24) and Pittsburgh (July 30). So don’t be shy about approaching them and asking about Take Back the Sky, especially if they’re busy talking up the other Browncoats events at the time. If you do, they’ll be happy to help you do your part to make sure we see a real US spaceship named Serenity. After all, Take Back the Sky originated with the PA Browncoats, and like most Browncoats, they are very shiny folk who are always willing to lend a helping hand.
So if you’re going to Wizard World Philly this weekend, don’t forget to stop by the PA Browncoats table to sign our petition and pick up a form letter and a “Leaf on the Wind” sheet. And while you’re at it, be sure to tell Bob and Tequila Matt we send our regards and thank them and their crew for boosting our signal.
A couple of days ago, engineer, naval aviator, Apollo astronaut and “the last man on the moon” Eugene “Gene” Cernan passed away at the age of 82. We know… there’s been a lot of obituaries flooding your social feeds of late, and we won’t drag it out, but this man is worth a few words.
Born and raised in suburban Illinois, Cernan received a degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue before going on to serve in the United States Navy as an aviator. His career included over 5,000 hours at the stick, and over 200 landings on aircraft carriers.
He was among the third group selected by NASA for the Astronaut Corps. Cernan flew Gemini 9A and Apollo 10, and in the process became the second American spacewalker, pioneering techniques for extravehicular activity and orbital rendezvous that later crews would use.
What history knows him best for, though, was as commander of Apollo 17, the final expedition to the lunar surface, and the bittersweet honor of being the last man to walk on the moon. Cernan and his crew made the best of their time, gathering invaluable surveying data and samples that gave scientists important clues as to the moon’s early history (and he also managed to set the lunar land speed record in the rover while he was at it).
Before climbing the ladder to the lander and turning his back on the “magnificent desolation” of Earth’s moon, he paused and spoke these words to the people of Earth:
“…As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come … I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record: that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.”
That’s what history remembers him for. I, however, remember him as a man of indomitable passion, more Browncoat than the Browncoats themselves. Heck, he responded to the “moon landing deniers” in the amazing documentary In the Shadow of the Moon (seriously, stream it the next chance you get, it’s one of the best ever made on the space race with beautiful, never-before-seen HD footage) with words that will sound familiar to any fan of Firefly: “Nobody can take those footsteps I made on the surface of the moon away from me.”
I was fortunate enough to meet this brave man when he came to speak at the University of Central Florida. The way that I will remember him will be as a fierce, tireless defender and advocate for getting us back out there in the black. Think about it– how horrible would it feel to be known as the last man to walk on the moon? As the years pass, I can imagine how it could turn from an honor into a terrible burden. Cernan may well have felt the same, because he continuously testified before Congress, spoke before audiences and anyone who would listen to him that he should NOT be the last.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I look at his life and how he spent it after returning to Earth, I can’t avoid looking at myself in the mirror in comparison and asking, “Well, what have you done for that cause?” Indeed, what have each of us done who professes to care and believe in the exploration and colonization of the heavens (which, you’d think, would include any fan of science-fiction franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly/Serenity, etc.)? Not to try to guilt anyone (aside from maybe myself) into it, but I really think there is more we could be doing– not “we” as in “trust everyone else to vote,” but as in you and me, no matter what your background may be.
It’s given me pause to think about how we’ve been going about this little campaign of ours at Take Back the Sky, and it may well inspire a change or two. I’m still thinking it all over in my mind, and I’ll keep you posted of any epiphanies that come to me.
But for now, Godspeed, Captain Cernan. It is our hope that mankind will, in the not-too-distant future, once again follow in your footsteps.
For the second consecutive year, Take Back the Sky will be presenting a panel at Wizard World Pittsburgh Comic Con. This year’s panel, Still Flyin’: Browncoats in Space, will examine the historical relationship between science-fiction and the space industry as well as recent developments and achievements in commercial spaceflight, with a special emphasis on SpaceX and its involvement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Take Back the Sky co-founder and Pittsburgh native Chris Tobias will present the panel, which will take place on Friday, November 4 from 6:30-7:15pm in Room 401 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, PA.
If you’re going to be at the con on Friday and have an interest in Firefly, SpaceX or just commercial spaceflight in general, stop by and hear what we have to say. We’ll have updates on our latest activities for those who want to see SpaceX name its first manned Dragon Serenity, as well as some ideas and resources that will make it easier for Browncoats to join our cause.
We hope to see you one week from today at Wizard World Pittsburgh!