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Elon Musk turns to science fiction for Mars ship


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.  If SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s​ plan to establish a city on Mars sounds like science fiction, then consider the name of his first passenger ship.

The answer lies in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy​,” the comic series about the travels and travails of Earth’s last surviving man.

Musk is leaning toward the name “Heart of Gold,” the starship in the novel with Infinite Improbability Drive.

“I like the fact that it’s driven by Infinite Improbability,” Musk said in presenting his long-awaited Mars colonization plan this week, “because I think our ship is also extremely improbable.”

“But the acronym is not the best,” he chuckled.

All aboard the HOG?

The name generated applause at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico, where Musk provided elaborate details of his bold plans to fly scores of humans to Mars and set up a self-sustaining city with 1 million people, as big as San Jose, California.

For the past decade, Musk has borrowed from science fiction and fantasy when naming his rockets, engines, capsules and other space doodads.

Another billionaire’s aerospace startup, Blue Origin, pays homage to America’s original Mercury astronauts with its names. Long-established NASA and United Launch Alliance prefer mythology and astronomy.

Musk​ already has plumbed “Star Wars” for names, as well as work by the late Scottish science fiction writer Iain M. Banks.

SpaceX’s Falcon rocket is a nod to the Millennium…

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