The working name for the massive rocket that Elon Musk and his commercial space company, SpaceX, have used for their Interplanetary Transport System has always been a bit of a tongue-in-cheek thing.
The so-called "BFR" has been suggested to stand for either "Big Falcon Rocket" or "Big Fucking Rocket," but going forward it will have a new, far more generic name.
"Renaming BFR to Starship," Musk wrote on Twitter late Monday.
Renaming BFR to Starship-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 20, 2018
Musk went on to explain that his interplanetary transit plan is "Technically, two parts: Starship is the spaceship/upper stage & Super Heavy is the rocket booster needed to escape Earth's deep gravity well (not needed for other planets or moons)."
What he means at the end there is that the Super Heavy booster won't be needed to take off from the surface of the moon or Mars or other places we might visit in the solar system like big asteroids, Saturn's moon Enceladus or perhaps even Pluto. Presumably, a re-usable engine built into Starship would suffice to get off these other worlds with less of an atmosphere and weaker gravity.
In the long run, a boring but more evocative name probably makes more sense for Musk's goal of making humanity a "multiplanetary species." It's certainly harder to get the entire world behind a system named for a profane inside joke.
The announcement also came with the predictable but still giggle-inducing questions and references to the 1980s rock-group of the same name. That Starship is obviously best-known for building cities on the grave of rock and roll, which the band itself dug in 1985 with this horror-show:
While Musk ignored all the pop-rock based protestations, he did respond to one person on Twitter who pointed out that "Starship" is a misnomer unless it actually visits other star systems.
"Later versions will," Musk replied.
Why stop there Elon? When will we get the Galaxyship?