Most Popular Names of Space Explorers


(Credit: Shutterstock / Igor Zh.)

“I think of space not as the final frontier but as the next frontier. Not as something to be conquered but to be explored.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 13, 2011

Since the beginning of time, humankind has been fascinated with space. From ancient civilizations predating the Greeks and Romans, to the current day International Space Station and the Juno satellite that’s just reached Jupiter, humans have always wanted to know about the origins of the earth, the universe and if there’s other life forms other than Earth-bound ones.

In honor of Moon Day and Space Exploration Day, we took a look at a not-so-scientific list of trailblazers and history makers, to see how popular their names matched up with the rest of the U.S. population:

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri is a Russian version of George. Gagarin was a Russian Soviet pilot and cosmonaut, the first human to journey into outer space, completing an orbit of the Earth in 1961.

There are 9,002 people in the U.S with the name Yuri; it peaked in popularity in 1987.

Sally Ride

Ride was an American physicist and astronaut and in 1983 became the first American woman in space.

Over 217,000 people in the U.S. share the name Sally; it was most popular in 1938.

John Glenn

Glenn is a former Marine Corps aviator, engineer, astronaut, and United States senator. His claim to space-fame

Christa McAuliffe

A high school teacher, McAuliffe made history as the first American civilian selected to go into space in 1985. She perished with 6 other astronauts in the Challenger space shuttle explosion.

There are 45,683 people named Christa in the U.S.; the name peaked in popularity in 1986, the same year as the Challenger explosion, so the spike in the number of girls named Christa was a result of parents paying tribute to McAuliffe.

Ellen Ochoa

The current Director of the Johnson Space Center, Ochoa is an engineer and former astronaut.

There are 249,486 people in the U.S. who share the name Ellen; it was most popular in 1911.

Alan Shepard

Shepard made the first manned Mercury flight in May 1961, to become the first American in space, and later travelled to the moon in Apollo 14.

There are 323,529 people in the U.S named Alan; the name was most popular in 1951.

Jim Lovell

The only person to fly to the Moon twice but never trod its surface, Jim Lovell is perhaps best know as the commander of Apollo 13, and safely returned his crew to Earth after a catastrophic failure during the mission.

James is a name that dates back to the Middle Ages, and is the 4th most popular name in the country, with 4,105,780 who share the name. It peaked in popularity in 1944.

Neil Armstrong

Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, and his famous words in the summer of 1969, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, endures.

Neil is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Niall. While it has historically been popular in Ireland and Scotland, since the 20th century it has spread to enjoy considerable popularity in all parts of the English-speaking world. There are 105,497 people who are named Neil; it peaked in popularity in 1933.

Gene Cernan

After flying to the moon twice, Cernan also holds the distinction of being the second American to walk in space and the last man to have lwalked on the moon.

Traditionally a boy’s name, 1% of the 148,547 people in the U.S. who share this name are girls. The name hit its peak in popularity in 1937.

Edward White

White was the first American to “walk” in space in 1965, and then tragically died, along with his fellow astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom and Roger B. Chaffee during prelaunch testing for the first manned Apollo mission.

There are 1,028,323 in the U.S. who share the name Edward; it peaked in popularity nearly a century ago, in 1918.

by Whitepages

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