USSC’s Mercury class ships were the first to bear the names of astronauts. They were also the first to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) to handle routine janitorial functions as well as more dangerous tasks such as collision avoidance.
The naming scheme for each ship and each AI became an inside joke. The AI wore the first name; the ship wore the last. Thus, the first Mercury class ship was the USSC Sheppard with an AI named Alan. Of the seven Mercury class ships, the Sheppard became the only name to carry forward into future USSC fleet programs, becoming the designation of the first USSC Sheppard class ship.
Despite a myriad of warnings from scifi authors and scientists, USSC scientists felt the concerns about AI onboard space ships were overblown. While they agreed that a HAL 9000 problem could exist in theory. They felt that the programming of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics nullified any theoretical concerns.
No one was more overjoyed to read of the Asimov Laws eliminating rogue AI problems than the members of the crew of the USSC Grissom, while researching troubleshooting suggestions. Their AI, Gus, first demonstrated that theoretical problems don’t always stay theoretical by announcing “Good morning, Dave” to a command flight crew onboard a ship where no one was named Dave and the time was universal midnight.