The name of the OasISS mission was chosen by ESA from a total of 520 suggestions received in response to a competition launched by ESA’s Directorate of Human Spaceflight in September 2008. These were received from people in all ESA Member States.
The winning name refers to many aspects of the International Space Station as well as to human exploration, ranging from the exploration of deserts on Earth by European explorers, to the deserts we will find on other planets, where humankind might be able set up an oasis and provide a permanent human outpost to live on that planet.
The Space Station itself can be considered an oasis in space for its astronauts and cosmonauts, whilst Earth is often referred to as the Blue Planet and represents an oasis for humankind in the Universe.
The name also refers to the challenge to find an oasis, where human exploration is a challenge in itself.
OasISS also ties in with Frank's role as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF Belgium. In support of the UNICEF 2009 WASH campaign dedicated to water, sanitation and hygiene, several events were implemented during his flight to draw public attention to the availability and cleanliness of water which is critically important for human life.
As Frank himself stated, "Water is a scarce resource on board the Space Station. Responsible use and recycling in space can help develop efficient water processing applications for Earth, which are particularly important for developing countries".
The winning mission name, OasISS, was proposed by Jan Puylaert from Ghent, in Belgium.