Spacecraft computer program names

I used to think MIT was a little odd when it came to selecting names for the spacecraft computer programs with all that weird preoccupation with the sun. But now I see they were right all the time and the rest of the world is nuts - let’s name the missions sequentially as they lift off the launch pad. Good grief, Charlie Brown! Having seen my error I’d like to apologize to our Bostonian friends for the abuse - and worse - I used to heap upon them and publicly announce the end of my campaign to change the program names. I think the old ones are Just great and recommend you learn to recognize them if you’re interested, in this business.

There are only five names you need to remember; they are:

a. SOLRUM 55

This contraction of the more familiar “Revision 55 of Solarium” was adopted for the AS-501/AS-502 program when it was released to Raytheon for rope manufacture. (The numerical part of the name is the number of the program assembly on which the final flight verification testing was carried out. This is a characteristic of all program names).

b. BURST 116

Contracted from “Revision 116 of Sunburst”, this is the name of the program for the unmanned LM mission we used to call AS-206.


Sundisk is the interim Command Module program now scheduled for release in July which could be used for any earth orbital development flight. It probably won’t ever be flown but it’s availability will ensure that flight software does not pace the first manned mission. Dave Hoag suggested I could remember this name if I associated it with the shape of the command module - sort of a disk - and, by golly, it’s worked for me.


This is the name of the command module program designed to support the lunar landing mission as well as all development flights anyone has thought of, so far. According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary it also means (1) A statue of gigantic size; as, the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of Apollo, about 120 feet high, made by Chares about 280 B.C. (2) Anything of gigantic size.

Pretty good except, I miss the Sun.

This program And Sundance (below) will undoubtedly be updated prior to rope manufacture for each mission, incorporating modifications and corrections as necessary. I expect these will be identified by different assembly numbers rather than completely new names.


You can remember the name of the LM program for all manned missions by associating dance with the LM’s lovely legs - another of Dave’s suggestions - and adding “Sun” as usual.

I’m serious, as usual.

Terms & Abbreviations


Originally scheduled as the first unmanned flight of the LM, it was cancelled after the Apollo 1 fire. The AS-206 launch vehicle, a Saturn 1B, was used to launch Skylab 2 on May 25, 1973.


Lunar Module. Earlier it was known as the Lunar Excursion Module and abbreviated “LEM.” Even after the name change, it continued to be pronounced “lem.”


Massachussets Institute of Technology. In these memos, MIT is shorthand for the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, created and led by avionics pioneer Charles Stark Draper. It is now known as the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and became independent of MIT in 1973.