The sales and marketing folks at Smithsonian Books had a good point: the original title for my forthcoming book on commercial spaceflight was going to be a mouthful for anyone trying to order it.

I like the sound of “The Entreprenauts,” but people reading it don’t know how to pronounce it, and people hearing it don’t know how to spell it. So we decided together on “Rocketeers.”

Some people might think that name applies exclusively to the 1991 Disney movie called The Rocketeer, but that movie was actually based on a Dark Horse comic of the same name by Dave Stevens. And neither work has a monopoly on the name. Merriam-Webster says:

Main Entry: rock·e·teer
Pronunciation: “rä-k&-‘tir
Function: noun
1 : one who fires, pilots, or rides in a rocket
2 : a scientist who specializes in rocketry

Sure seems like a good fit to me.

Not that I mind the comic book reference; I’ve been reading comics since I could read, and if you want to know just how much of a geek I really am, consider that I’ve privately assigned the space entrepreneurs I’ve been covering to DC and Marvel comic book heroes. (Actually its pretty easy to pair these guys up. What millionaire space entrepreneur and DC superhero both drive awesome cars and have taken winged creatures as their symbol? Which rocketeer and Marvel hero are both gruff loners with massive sideburns? Ahem. Anyway….)

The good people at Smithsonian Books also wanted a more descriptive subtitle, so here’s the full title we came up with:

Rocketeers: How a visionary band of business leaders, engineers and pilots is boldly privatizing space

We have a release date too: July 31, 2007.

The cover is in the final stages of design and I should get a look at it any day now.