SpaceX's newest Crew Dragon capsule has a name.
The vehicle is called "Endurance," NASA astronaut Raja Chari announced today (Oct. 7). Chari is commander of SpaceX's Crew-3 mission, which is scheduled to launch toward the International Space Station on board Endurance on Oct. 30.
As Endurance's first-ever crew, Chari, fellow NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron and the European Space Agency's Matthias Maurer had the honor of hanging a name on the spacecraft, which was previously known simply as "Capsule 210." And "Endurance" works on multiple levels, Chari said.
For starters, the name is "a tribute to the tenacity of the human spirit, as we push humans and machines farther than we ever have," Chari said in a short announcement video that NASA posted on Twitter today (opens in new tab).
It's "also a nod to the fact that the development teams, the production teams [and] the training teams that got us here have endured through a pandemic," Chari added. "And then of course, just the fact that we are going to reuse this vehicle. So, one of the really cool things about the SpaceX Dragon is, we'll be the first ones to use Endurance, but it won't be the last time it's used."
Endurance will be the third Crew Dragon vehicle to carry people to orbit. The capsule Endeavour flew SpaceX's first-ever crewed mission, the Demo-2 test flight to the space station in 2020, as well as Crew-2, which arrived at the orbiting lab in April and is scheduled to wrap up next month.
Resilience flew the Crew-1 mission to the station, which ended in May of this year, and Inspiration4, the first all-private mission to Earth orbit. Inspiration4 took billionaire tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman and three crewmates on a three-day, free-flying trip to orbit last month.
Like Chari and his crew, the Crew-1 astronauts cited the coronavirus pandemic as a factor in their choice of the name "Resilience."
The Crew-3 astronauts will spend about six months on board the International Space Station. Theirs will be the third operational mission that SpaceX flies under a contract signed with NASA's Commercial Crew Program in 2014. Boeing inked a similar deal at the same time, but its CST-100 Starliner capsule has yet to fly astronauts to orbit.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook.