iPhone, iPad, CCiCap?

Those who have closely followed NASA’s Commercial Crew Program may have noticed something a little unusual about the latest phase of the effort. Previous phases of the program were known as Commercial Crew Development, or CCDev, but this latest phase is called the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability. It’s known not as CCIC, or CCICap, but instead CCiCap, with a lowercase “i”. What’s up with that?

Speaking at the SpaceVision 2012 conference in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday, Ed Mango, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, offered an explanation: it’s an homage of sorts to a company outside the space industry. “I purposely put the little ‘i’ in there—I get to do that, as a program manager—because most of us have iPhones, and a lot of us might have iPads,” he said, referring to two of the most popular products made by Apple. Those products, he said, revolutionized communications. “They transformed the way we do information sharing. So, in my mind, what we’re doing today is an integrated capability and we’re trying to change the way the world, the way the United States, is going to focus on low Earth orbit.”

This is not the first time that NASA has exercised a little creativity in choosing the names and acronyms for its commercial vehicle development efforts. After NASA started the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) effort, it established an office to manage it. The logical name for it was the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program (since COTS originally included options for crewed vehicle development). The problem: the acronym for this was CCCP, which in the Cyrillic alphabet is the acronym for the USSR. NASA’s clever solution was to append “Office” to the name, thus becoming CCCPO or, by condensing the C’s, C3PO. Evidently Lucasfilm never complained…

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