Verne, the visionary
One of Jules Verne’s most recognized works, From the Earth to the Moon, which was published in 1865, is about a cannon called “Columbiad,” which fires a human-crewed projectile aimed at Selene. Interestingly, 104 years later, the Apollo XI spacecraft module that completed the mission to the Moon was named “Columbia.”
The name Columbia was first suggested to Michael Collins by Julian Scheer, one of NASA’s public affairs assistants. He mentioned the name offhandedly in a telephone conversation, saying, “Some of us up here have been kicking around Columbia.” Although the name initially seemed a bit “over the top” to Collins, he eventually named the module that because he couldn’t think of a better choice. Besides, his crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong had no other suggestions. Then, Collins realized the similarity of the name to Columbiad, the cannon invented by Verne.