Some of Starfield’s planets are named after real astronauts

Starfield planets: A person in a spacesuit walks across a dusty, rocky planet

During the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase, we got our first extended look at some Starfield gameplay. In the presentation, Bethesda’s Todd Howard also went through the explorable universe of the RPG, revealing that the Starfield map size is enormous – “1,000 planets” of enormity, at that.

While showing us an overview of Starfield’s galaxy map and looking at some of the planets you find in the more than 100 solar systems, we spotted a few Starfield planet names in the Alpha Centauri system that seem to follow a bit of naming convention.

The showcase highlights three planets in the Alpha Centauri system, which is controlled by the United Colonies faction – Jemison (an Earth-like planet home to the large capital city of New Atlantis), Gagarin (a “Goldilocks” planet that supports life), and Chawla (a baron icy moon that orbits the ringed planet Olivas). The link between Jemison, Gagarin, Chawla, and Olivas? They are all named after famous astronauts.

The most recognisable is arguably Gagarin, named after Soviet cosmonaut Yur Gagarin, who was the first person to ever go to outer space in 1961.

Then there’s Jemison, which is named after Mae Jemison, an engineer and NASA astronaut who flew an eight-day space mission in 1992. Jemison was the first Black female to go to space.

Chawla seems to be named after Kalpana Chawla, another female NASA astronaut who was one of the seven crew members that died during the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003. Chawla has a lunar crater on Earth’s moon named in her honour.

While we didn’t get a detailed view of it, the large ringed planet in Alpha Centauri that Chawla orbits is known as Olivas, according to Chawla’s UI overlay. This appears to be named after John D. Olivas, who flew on two space missions in 2007 and 2009. Olivas also performed space walks when at the International Space Station.

It seems fairly clear that most, if not all of the planets and moons in the Alpha Centauri system at least will be named after astronauts that have been to outer space.

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This naming convention doesn’t appear to have spread to other systems though. As well as the moon of Kreet which we saw at the start of the gameplay showcase, we also saw mentions of moons and planets such as Vectera and Anselon, which don’t appear to have any direct reference to anything space-y from what we can find.

Despite being set over 300 years in the future, it seems that the United Colonies at least have an appreciation and recollection of the birth of space travel on Earth. With the ability to build your own ship and clearly plenty of space history references, the Starfield release date probably can’t come soon enough for all you fellow space nerds out there.