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…
In approximately 24 hours, we will close our second (and likely final) online petition to SpaceX asking them to name their first manned Dragon capsule after Joss Whedon’s fictional spaceship Serenity. Unlike our first online petition, this one was time-sensitive, since it asked SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk or president Gwynne Shotwell to announce the name of the ship at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, which is now less than two weeks away.
We tied this second petition to an announcement at Comic-Con for two simple reasons. The first is that SpaceX has had a presence at SDCC for the past several years, so it made sense that since they were already in attendance, they could take advantage of the massive media attention the con attracts these days without even having to go out of their way to call a press conference. The second is that it’s no secret that Elon Musk has a penchant for spectacle, and when it comes to pop culture, there are few spectacles in the ‘verse bigger than Comic-Con. It was our hope that those two factors would combine to make San Diego Comic-Con the perfect place for SpaceX to name the spaceship that represents the future of American spaceflight after a fictional spaceship that represents the best of American sci-fi television and film– and, if they saw fit to bring the cockpit mockup that they’ve been setting up at astronomy and engineering conferences, it’d also make for some awesome Instagram photos in the pilot’s seat for some lucky Firefly cosplayers!
As a rule we always have high hopes, but we also have to be honest with ourselves. It doesn’t look like it’s going to work out that way. Whereas our first petition accumulated a couple thousand signatures, this latest one has struggled to reach five hundred. I’m sure there are multiple reasons for that, but speculating about them here won’t do anyone any good. Instead, I’d like to focus on the fact that this petition still has the potential to be a success even though it never really “broke atmo” or went viral. Although any logical person would assume that there is next to no chance that SpaceX will actually name their Crew Dragon after Serenity with a surprise announcement at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I don’t think that means this petition can’t still play a role in convincing Elon Musk that his company’s first manned Dragon should bear that name. Here’s why…
Happy New Year, ladies and menfolk!
2015 was quite a ride. NASA announced the crew that will fly its Commercial Crew missions, SpaceX bounced back from a resupply mission to the ISS that got a little too “interesting” and successfully landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket, and the Crew Dragon was given the green light to break atmo for the first time in 2017. And on the pop culture side of the ‘verse, The Martian made readers and moviegoers want to “science the sh*t” out of things, and a brand new Star Wars film broke both the internet and the box office, which means a whole new generation of young people is now dreaming of one day traveling to a galaxy far, far away.
Almost a year ago to the day, we laid out a plan for how we were going to go for hard-burn in our efforts to convince SpaceX to name their first Crew Dragon Serenity. Now that year is behind us, and it’s worth taking a brief look back at the year that was to see what soared like a leaf on the wind… and what fell out of the sky like it had a Capissan 38 engine!
Okay, I’m going to admit something that might cause some folk to insist that I should resign my commission as a bona fide geek– I still haven’t seen Star Wars Episode VII: the Force Awakens. Now, before you start questioning my “geekhood,” I’m going to make it clear that I have plans to take my family to see it this Sunday after the Christmas shindigs have all come and gone. So far though it just hasn’t been possible, what with all the holiday preparations, work and my son’s various athletic events. But believe me when I say it hasn’t been for lack of interest.
My friends have all been very kind in that they’ve been extra careful not to spoil anything for me. Okay, maybe it’s because I threatened to visit violence upon anyone who so much as uttered a spoiler from very early on, but whatever the reason, I’ve managed to stay spoiler free. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been getting general assessments of the movie, however. My favorite was the following e-mail, which I got from Take Back the Sky co-founder and fellow blogger Jeff:
HOLY MOTHER OF DUCKLINGS AND ALL HER WACKY NEPHEWS IN A SIXTEEN-PIECE BUCKET YOU NEED TO SEE STAR WARS!
- It’s like the original trilogy, but with good, deep writing.
- It’s Star Wars with good acting and character development.
- It’s Star Wars with dialogue that real people would say in real life.
- It’s Star Wars with relatable human emotions. There’s just so many wonderful, deeply poignant and emotional moments peppered throughout. THE FEELS ARE STRONG WITH THIS ONE.
- It’s no spoiler to say this, but…have you ever tried to get someone to watch Firefly for the first time by saying “It’s better than [popular sci-fi franchise]” half-seriously just to get their attention? I know this sounds equally hard to believe, but I’m dead serious when I say that Kylo Ren… is a more intimidating and downright terrifying villain than Darth Vader, possibly one of the baddest villains of all time.
If you think about it, though, the last sentence of Jeff’s “review” could also apply to SpaceX. No, seriously. This past Monday night we might very well have witnessed the accomplishment with which Elon Musk’s private rocket company effectively saved the American space industry. When the first stage of the Falcon 9 touched down like a downy feather on fire at Cape Canaveral, it didn’t just “wake up” the collective consciousness of the American public to the prospect of future space travel, it made the space industry seem “truly alive” in a way we haven’t felt since the very first launch of Space Shuttle Columbia.
In less than 48 hours, we’ll debut a brand new panel at Wizard World Pittsburgh Comic Con. The panel, entitled Browncoats in Space: the New Space Age and a Real-Life Spacecraft Named Serenity, will take place this Friday, September 11 at 5pm in Room 304 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.
Our previous panel (One Small Step for Fans: Browncoats in Space) focused on how mankind’s fascination with the stars inspired the fantastic ideas of science-fiction, which in turn inspired new generations to explore space. This new panel, however, will focus on recent developments in the world of private spaceflight through NASA’s Commercial Crew Project, with an emphasis on SpaceX’s Dragon V2.
Of course one thing this new panel will have in common with its predecessor is a discussion of the various ways in which Browncoats around the world can help convince SpaceX to name the first of its manned Dragon spacecraft after Joss Whedon’s Serenity. We’ll discuss our letter writing campaign to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk and president Gwynne Shotwell, as well as our new online petition asking SpaceX to announce their manned Dragon’s name live at San Diego Comic-Con in July of 2016. With the fall season just a couple weeks away, we’ll also revisit our “Leaf on the Wind” campaign, which encourages Browncoats who may not feel comfortable writing a letter to show their support for the name Serenity simply by mailing a leaf to Elon Musk and/or Gwynne Shotwell at SpaceX.
If time permits, we’ll field questions from the audience as well, and we may even have a prize or two to give away.
So if you’re headed to Wizard World Pittsburgh this Friday, be sure to stop in and listen to our new presentation. As always, we welcome your feedback and appreciate your support.
Peace, love and rockets…
For nearly three years, we’ve had a petition on MoveOn.org calling on SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk to name his company’s first manned spacecraft after Joss Whedon’s Serenity. In that time, the petition amassed a little over 2,200 signatures, a number that was somewhat lower than we had initially hoped to achieve. As you may recall, we already discussed a number of possible reasons for that in our June 17 blog entry about the petition. In the end, however, we decided that perhaps it was time to close the MoveOn.org petition down and send its signatures on their way to SpaceX. On August 30, we did just that.
Before anyone gets the wrong impression, this doesn’t mean we’re giving up on convincing Elon Musk and SpaceX to name their first Dragon V2 Serenity. In fact, quite the opposite is true. We are pleased to announce that we shut the old petition down to make way for a newer petition that is hosted on a newer platform and more accurately reflects what we currently know about the state of SpaceX’s involvement in NASA’s Commercial Crew Project. And what’s more, this new petition raises the stakes in what is likely to be the final year in the development of SpaceX’s manned Dragon– a year that should culminate in the naming of the ship.
Our new online petition, which you can find at Change.org, not only asks Elon Musk and SpaceX to name their first Dragon V2 Serenity, but also calls upon Elon Musk to announce to the world that the ship will indeed have that name in person at next year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, California! Continue Reading
When Jeff and I founded Take Back the Sky in September of 2012, we wanted to develop a multi-faceted strategy for convincing SpaceX to name their first manned Dragon space capsule Serenity. We knew that at the heart of our campaign would be good, old-fashioned, pen-and-paper letter writing. After all, a hand-written letter still has a more profound effect on its reader than a message that’s delivered by any electronic means, and the letter writing campaign that convinced NASA to name their first space shuttle Enterprise is the stuff of legend. We were also well aware, however, that, in the 21st century, any successful campaign has to be versatile and include the internet and social media, especially one that targets a specific demographic that would be classified as belonging to “geek” culture. That’s precisely the reason why you’re able to read this blog post today, and it’s also why you can visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. It’s also why we decided to take advantage of another trend that has gained all kinds of momentum in the internet age and set up an online petition.