Q 2.23 How are satellites named? Give examples.

There are no set rules for naming a satellite, a space probe or a launch vehicle – much as for naming an individual, object, or place, as illustrated by examples below extracted primarily from http://planet4589.org/space/misc/names.html. (Retrieved 18/05/17).

     1.    Description and acronym of  satellite’s function


Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite or GEOS,

Michibiki – meaning guiding or showing the way in Japanese for Japanese regional navigation system [Reference: http://global.jaxa.jp/press/2010/01/20100120_qzs-1_e.html]

2.   Renowned luminary – (scientists, artists, mathematician, explorer, etc.)

Aryabhata – First Indian satellite named after a renowned Indian mathematician

Marco polo – A British direct broadcast satellite series named after the renowned Italian explorer, Marco polo

Columbus – European Space Agency’s space station, named after the famous Italian explorer, Christophorus Columbus

Van Allen Probes – American scientific satellite pair named after the American space scientist James Alfred Van Allen

AMOS – An Israeli communication satellite named after Prophet Amos

Einstein – NASA’s X-ray satellite (HEOS-B), named after the physicist, Albert Einstein

Hubble – NASA’s space telescope, named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble

Leonard – A module of the international Space Station named after the renowned multi-disciplinary genius Leonardo Da Vinci

3.   A star or a stellar constellation


Orion – A communication satellite, also a Russian spy satellite and a spaceship

Gemini – A spaceship

Pegasus – A launch vehicle and also various scientific mission satellites

Beideou – Chinese navigation satellite

Capricorn – A data relay satellite

4.   Astronomy

Giove – (For Jupiter) A navigation satellite

Chandrayaan – An Indian moon probe meaning a vehicle to Moon (Chandra meaning moon in Sanskrit, yaan meaning vehicle)

Suisei – A Japanese comet probe Meaning Comet

Meteor – A Russian weather satellite

Galaxy – A communication satellite

5.   A mythological connotation

Apollo – A spaceship

Artemes – Communication satellite and also lunar probes

Ulysses – A solar probe

Miranda – A technology satellite

Thor – Communication satellite

6.   Exploration related, depicting a similar mission goal

Discovery – Space ship

Explorer – Space science satellite

Viking – Mars probe also science satellite

Voyager – Inter-planetary satellite

Odyssey – Spaceship

7.   Physics terms

Gamma – Gamma Ray, Russian Gamma ray astronomy satellite

Ajari – Light (Japanese) Infra Red astronomy satellite

Diapason – Waveband (French),  a geodesy satellite

Spectr – Spectrum (Russian), Space station also an astronomy satellite

Luch – Beam (Russian), a communication satellite

8.   Chemical terms

Iridium – Mobile communication satellite

ARGON  –  A spy satellite

Kobalt – Cobalt (Russian), a spy satellite

Kristall – Crystal (Russian), a space station

9.   Mineral name

Emeraude – Emeral (French), a rocket stage

Granat – Garnet (Russian), an X-ray astronomy satellite

Sapphire – A test satellite, also a surveillance satellite, also a missile

Almaz – Diamond (French), a space station

Topaze – Topaz, a rocket stage

10. Name of place

Africasat 1 – African communication satellite

Amazonas – For Amazon, a communication satellite

Australis – For Australia, a communication satellite

Fuji – For Mt Fuji, Japnese communication satellite

Beijing 1 – For Beijing, Earth imaging satellite

11. Flora connotation

Sakura – Cherry Blossom (Japanese),a communication satellite

Jindai – Cherry tree (Japanese), a technology satellite

Kiku –  For Chrysanthenum (Japanese), a test satellite

Yuri – For Lily (Japanese), a communication satellite

Ayame – For Iris (Japanese) – a communication satellite

Tournesol – Sunflower (French), Astronomy satellite

12. Fauna, bird and Insect world connotation

Terrier – Space physics satellite

Polar Bear – Space physics satellite

Spider –  Spaceship

Garuda – A large mythological eagle, a mobile communication satellite

Jugnu – Firefly, a technology demonstration nano-satellite

13. Meteorological name

Aurora – Various space science satellites, also a spaceship and a communication satellite

Nimbus – For cloud, a weather satellite

Uragan: For hurricane (Russian), a navigation satellite

Molniya: For lightening (Russian), a communication/broadcast satellite

Aqa: For water, an Earth observation satellite

14. Human endeavour and emotion

Anik – For brother, a communication satellite

Curiosity – Mars probe

Progress – Cargo ship

Tranquility – Space station module

Palapa – Unity, a communication satellite

15. Weapon name

Black Arrow – Launch vehicle

Mech – Sword (Russian), Radar satellite

Haft – Handle of a knife, axe or spear, a missile

16. Based on colour

Azur – Blue (German), a space physics satellite

Midori – Green (Japanese), an Earth observation satellite

17. Alphabet (Generally Greek)

Delta – Launch vehicle

Omega – Weather satellite

Sigma – Spaceship

18. Related to communication

Courier – Communication satellite

Relay – Communication satellite

Ekspress- Express (Russian), a communication satellite

19. Related to Music

Symphonie – Symphony (French), Communication satellite

Roll – Radio broadcast

Rock – Radio broadcast

Rhythm – Radio broadcast

Blues – Radio broadcast

20. Others

Ikonos – Imaging (Greek), an Imaging satellite

Skipper – Technology satellite

Swift – Astronomy satellite

Inmarsat 5 – Mobile communication satellite: organisation name, followed by satellite generation

INTELSAT 37e – Fixed satellite service satellite: organisation name, followed by launch sequence number of a given series.