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The Altair spacecraft, previously known as the Lunar Surface Access Module or LSAM, is the planned lander spacecraft component of NASA's Project Constellation, which astronauts are to use for landings on the Moon intended to begin around 2019. Altair spacecraft will be used both for lunar sortie and lunar outpost missions.
On December 13, 2007, NASA's Lunar Surface Access Module was retitled 'Altair', after the 12th brightest star in the northern hemisphere's night sky, Altair in the constellation Aquila. In Latin, 'Aquila' means Eagle, providing a connection to the first crewed lunar lander, Apollo 11's Eagle.
The landers used on the Apollo missions were called Lunar Modules, and often (imprecisely) referred to as Lunar Landers, Lunar Excursion Modules or LEMs (Lunar Excursion Module was the original designation of the LM, until changed by NASA due to public perception that 'excursion' meant going on a picnic).
Prior to the announcement of the 'Altair' name, reports had suggested other names had been considered by NASA.