Stargazing

NASA spaces out on Colbert

Stephen Colbert

didn't get a room on the international space station named after him after all. But NASA will name a space treadmill after him.

NASA held an online contest to name a room at the international space station. With write-in votes, the name “Colbert” beat out NASA’s four suggested options: Serenity, Legacy, Earthrise and Venture.

On Tuesday’s “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, astronaut

Sunita Williams

announced that NASA — which always maintained it had the right to choose an appropriate name — would not name the node after Colbert.

Instead, Node 3 will henceforth be called Tranquility, the eighth most popular response submitted by respondents in the poll. The node’s name alludes to where Apollo 11 landed on the moon — the Sea of Tranquility.

NASA and Colbert compromised by naming a treadmill used for exercising in space after Colbert. NASA, itself an acronym (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), often names things so they spell out something fun. And that’s what they did with the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT).

Sophisticated treadmills are crucial for living in space for long periods of time, as astronauts do on the space station; they help keep astronauts fit and their bones from losing strength. Williams ran a marathon on one while living at the space station in 2007, jogging in place to coincide with the Boston Marathon.

The COLBERT treadmill is a new version that will be operational in August, NASA spokesman

Mike Curie

said.

“We don’t typically name U.S. space station hardware after living people and this is no exception,”

Bill Gerstenmaier
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