by Nancy Atkinson on April 14, 2009

The C.O.L.B.E.R.T patch.

The C.O.L.B.E.R.T patch.

2nd UPDATE: Watch the video of astronaut Suni Williams on “The Colbert Report” below .

There will be a COLBERT on the International Space Station. Word has it that NASA, however, did not name Node 3 on the ISS after comedian Stephen Colbert, who won a NASA-sponsored naming contest for the next module that will be brought to the station. According to Robert Pearlman on CollectSPACE, NASA will announce on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” later tonight (Tuesday) that the module’s name will be “Tranquility” – in deference to Apollo 11’s landing site on the Moon (40th anniversary and all this year). But NASA did name a new treadmill after Colbert, kinda sorta. NASA created an acronym for the treadmill as the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT. Of course, this isn’t actually official yet. Pearlman’s article was published two hours before the “Colbert Report” aired (even though NASA’s press release specificially stated the name would “not be publicly released until the program airs.” Hmmm… guess nothing is sacred.) We’ll post the video and official word when available. You can see an image of the current treadmill on the ISS below.

UPDATE: Yes, it is true. Node 3 is Tranquility and the treadmill is C.O.L.B.E.R.T. The “official” treadmill patch is above, and the video from “The Colbert Report” is below. Colbert took it well, and he’s excited about the treadmill. Excerpts from NASA’s press release are below, as well.

Astronaut Suni Williams on the ISS treadmill. Credit: NASA

Astronaut Suni Williams on the ISS treadmill. Credit: NASA

Here’s astronaut Suni Williams running on the current ISS treadmill. She ran a marathon in space on this treadmill.

Here’s info from NASA’s official press release on the new Node 3 name:

“The public did a fantastic job and surprised us with the quality and volume of the suggestions,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations. “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.”

“We don’t typically name U.S. space station hardware after living people and this is no exception,” Gerstenmaier joked. “However, NASA is naming its new space station treadmill the ‘Combined Operational
Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill,’ or COLBERT. We have invited Stephen to Florida for the launch of COLBERT and to Houston to try out a version of the treadmill that astronauts train on.”

The treadmill is targeted to launch to the station in August. It will be installed in Tranquility after the node arrives at the station next year, scheduled for February 2010.


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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