NASA Dumps Colbert Name for International Space Station Node
NASA, it turns out, does have a sense of humor. Well, sort of.
The space agency announced April 14 it will not be naming a new node on the International Space Station after comedian Stephen Colbert, who used his TV show, "The Colbert Report," to urge viewers to jam the NASA mailbox and suggest his name in a NASA online contest to name the node. Colbert walked away with the win, beating NASA's suggestion of "Serenity" by more than 40,000 votes.
NASA, though, reserved the right to reject the online winning name, and it did.
"We don't typically name U.S. space station hardware after living people and this is no exception," Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for space operations, said in a statement. NASA will instead name the node Tranquility, which ranked eighth in the online poll.
However, NASA will install a new piece of equipment for the Tranquility node named the "Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill," i.e., the COLBERT.
Gerstenmaier said Colbert has been invited to Florida for the launch of the next space shuttle carrying the COLBERT to the space station and to Houston to work out on the treadmill.
Explaining the choice of Tranquility as a name, Gerstenmaier said, "Apollo 11 landed on the moon at the Sea of Tranquility 40 years ago this July. We selected 'Tranquility' because it ties it to exploration and the moon, and symbolizes the spirit of international cooperation embodied by the space station."
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams went on Colbert's show April 14 to break the bad news to the comedian.