Astronaut Anna Fisher is Viking Orion's godmother

Astronaut Anna Fisher viewed Viking Orion with Torstein Hagen in the building dock at Ancona prior to its float-out Astronaut Anna Fisher viewed Viking Orion with Torstein Hagen in the building dock at Ancona prior to its float-out (Photo: Viking Cruises)

American chemist, emergency room physician and recently retired NASA astronaut Dr. Anna Fisher serve as the godmother for Viking Cruises' fifth ocean ship. Viking Orion, named after the prominent constellation and in honor of Fisher’s contributions to NASA’s Orion exploration vehicle project, will debut in July 2018.

The announcement was made by Viking chairman Torstein Hagen during yesterday's maiden call of Viking Sky, the company's third ocean ship, to New York City. It was the first time Viking Orion's name was made public; previously it was referred to as Viking Spirit.

The 930-passenger newbuild reached a major construction milestone last week when it was floated out at Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard. Fisher attended the ceremony and assisted with several maritime traditions.

Viking Orion will spend its maiden year sailing in the Mediterranean before making its way to Asia, Australia and then Alaska.

'The spirit of exploration is at the heart of everything we do, and so I am especially proud that an astronaut will be honored as godmother to our new ship,' Hagen said. 'Dr. Fisher is a past Viking guest, a fellow scientist and a true explorer. As one of the first women in space, she has inspired generations of curious minds, and I look forward to welcoming guests on board Viking Orion to learn more about her impressive career in space exploration.'

At Viking Orion's float-out, Fisher took part in the traditional welding of coins under the mast. These coins represented her birth year and Hagen's. Two coins were also welded to represent members of the Hagen family: 1911 to represent Ragnhild 'Mamsen' Hagen, Torstein Hagen's mother, and 2012 to represent Finse, the yellow Labrador belonging to Karine Hagen, Viking’s SVP and chairman Hagen's daughter.

Fisher then cut a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship’s building dock. Viking Orion is now alongside an outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.

By 2019, Viking will welcome its sixth ship, and two additional newbuilds are on order for delivery in 2021 and 2022.

Selected as an astronaut in January 1978, Fisher was one of the 'original six' women in NASA’s Astronaut Training Program. She became the first mother in space when she served as a mission specialist on STS-51A aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, which launched Nov. 8, 1984. During her NASA career, spanning more than three decades, she contributed to three major initiatives: the Space Shuttle program, the International Space Station and Orion, NASA’s new crew-rated exploration spacecraft.

Prior to her retirement in April, Fisher was the oldest active American astronaut. To celebrate her retirement, she sailed on Viking’s 'Rhine Getaway' cruise in July.

Posted 05 October 2017

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review