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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 currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • RL April 15, 2009, 10:13 AM

    I think they should have called it Universe Today…

  • Yan Luz April 15, 2009, 11:41 AM

    Wag of the finger to NASA. I voted for what? So NASA can go and not honor the votes?

  • Emission Nebula April 15, 2009, 12:35 PM

    Stephen Colbert knew he wasn’t going to get it named after him. Give him more credit people.

    HOWEVER, NASA created the rules, then broke them. He had every right to try, anyone would have.

    Admittedly, I would be happy with having treadmill in orbit around the Earth named after me.

  • Jorge April 15, 2009, 12:43 PM

    Emission, you know the meaning of the expression “non-binding”?

    NASA broke no rule. The name poll was non-binding from the start. They’d go for a winning name if they liked it, but would choose another one if the winning name didn’t appeal to them. Those were the rules. It’s the whiners who are trying to bend them when they demand NASA to do otherwise.

  • Emission Nebula April 15, 2009, 12:58 PM


    Fair enough.

  • Jason April 15, 2009, 1:57 PM

    I personally think NASA missed a huge chance here. Why did they make the contest? To gain public interest. What happened when they gained public interest? Freaked out and made themselves look like the humorless bureaucrats that take themselves too seriously that most the public thinks they are.

    Way to look the gift horse in the mouth NASA.

  • matt April 15, 2009, 2:00 PM

    What was going on with the CC? did you see what it wrote when he said “zombie dragon onslaught”?

  • Kt D April 15, 2009, 3:10 PM

    Hopefully, everyone was able to take this in good humor. It’s slightly disappointing that COLBERT won’t be the station soaring around in space, but at least NASA titled the treadmill after him. And it will be fun to watch him try the thing out. True, NASA did make this contest, and maybe they should have let the public know earlier that live beings’ names were not allowed. Still, they gained a lot of public attention because of this. And Colbert, although understandably disappointed, took the news in great stride. I watched a good video on all of this at newsy.com earlier today. It’s worth looking at:


  • DZ April 16, 2009, 12:50 AM

    i just dont get why you would have a contest on what to name the node if your just going to pick the name in the end. just saying

  • Chris Farmer April 16, 2009, 1:46 AM

    Help solve the the Theory of Everything!! http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=55637224788

  • hale_bopp April 16, 2009, 10:02 AM

    I love the acronym…after all, NASA is the National Association of Silly Acroynms!