NASA to Announce New ISS Module Name on Colbert Report

NASA announced via Twitter that the space agency will announce the name of the new International Space Staton module next week on the Comedy Central show, “The Colbert Report.” As you may recall, the show’s host Stephen Colbert encouraged his viewers to write-in his name in NASA’s “Name the Node” contest, and he won in a landslide over NASA’s top suggestion, Serenity (“that’s the name of an adult diaper,” said Colbert), by over 40,000 votes. NASA astronaut Suni Williams will appear on the show on Tuesday, April 14 at 11:30 pm EDT. This certainly bodes well for the Colbert Nation, but will NASA really come through on this one and do something fun and engaging, or do what the middle-aged space agency usually does. Will it be “Democracy in Orbit?”

Watch a video of Colbert below telling NASA, “the ball is in your court.”

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Space Module: Colbert – Democracy in Orbit
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor NASA Name Contest

Update — NASA just released a press release on this, and here’s more:

“The node naming poll was organic and took on a life of its own,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We received more than a million
entries, in large part because social media Web sites and television programs, such as ‘The Colbert Report,’ took an interest. This spread overall awareness of the International Space Station.”

NASA originally planned to announce the node’s name on April 28 after it arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. However, the node’s arrival at Kennedy is delayed until May, so the announcement moved to April 14.

The show’s producers offered to host the name selection announcement after comedian and host Stephen Colbert took interest during the census and urged his followers to post the name “Colbert.”

“I certainly hope NASA does the right thing,” said Colbert. “Just kidding, I hope they name it after me.”

Node 3 is a pressurized module that will provide room for many of the space station’s life support systems. Attached to the node is the cupola, a one-of-a-kind work station with six windows around the sides and one on top. Node 3 is targeted for launch in late 2009.

For more information about the station and Node 3.

39 Replies to “NASA to Announce New ISS Module Name on Colbert Report”

  1. Agree with the spirit of the “adult diaper” comment. All of NASAs suggestions were schmaltzy and boring. Really awful. Kind of like all of the names they come up with (Spirit and Opportunity? ughh)

    “Colbert” would be a breath of fresh air. Time to dump the sentimentality and get a sense of humor.

  2. Well, Serenity is great for Firefly fans, but most people probably didn’t get that. Anyway, save Serenity for an actual spaceship that goes somewhere.

  3. I agreed with the proposal to name the space station toilet after him :p
    Capitalizing on the public’s interest and making the situation humorous without doing anything drastic or questionable.

  4. There is a big lesson to be learned from Mr. Colbert: NASA sucks at public relations. The mere fact that Colbert was able to get people out in droves to vote for the naming (droves much larger than through NASA’s efforts) shows that NASA could be doing a MUCH more successful job with promotion than they are; the public interest is clearly there. Comic or otherwise. Perhaps having the name released on the show means that some people in NASA have learned.

  5. They’ve always sucked at PR, to their detriment.

    The name being released on the show is more probably due to the efforts of Colbert’s staff trying to keep the joke going than anyone in NASA admin turning over a new leaf.

    These guys were flying missions to the freaking MOON and they couldn’t hold public interest.
    I’m willing to bet that a name contest will not be the turning point… altho I hope I’m wrong.

  6. I hope it is called Serenity. Naming it after Colbert is the perfect example of everything wrong with society, especially with the internet 2.0 addicted parts.

  7. I don’t think you’re giving NASA enough credit on public relations. For most of the 90s and into the first few years of this century they were terrible at it. Recently though they’ve really embraced the internet and have made huge improvements in the last couple years.

    Numerous NASA missions are now on Twitter, Phoenix was the first but now the Mars rovers, shuttles, Kepler, etc. are all using Twitter. They’ve got a pretty nice YouTube channel along with livestreaming the NASA TV channel on the website. The voting idea was good and even before Colbert got involved the vote was in the tens of thousands (okay a lot of it was the Firefly fans). The idea to announce it on the show is the best possible thing they could have done.

    I’m hoping it’s named Serenity with some part like the toilet named for Colbert. I’m uncomfortable with naming a major part of the ISS after a living person, especially a celebrity, I don’t like the precedent it sets.

  8. I don’t like the precedent set by naming a toilet after someone who is doing his part to support NASA. It seems to be a tad counter-productive.

  9. The ‘g-friend’ says that she thinks its ‘funny’ that Stephan Colbert usurped NASA’s PR dept. by creating this media blitz. (Me too!)

    I also think it would be GREAT for Stephan Colbert to interview President Obama UP ON THE ISS!

  10. And if Howard Stern decides he’d like to have the naming rights to the next module? Or maybe someone even less notable, Kobe Bryant or Britney Spears for example, then what?

    I disagree ENTIRELY with the notion that a unit purchased with Tax Money should be named in honor of something as utterly worthless as a Celebrity.

    If he wants a module or space craft named after him, he is free to fund one, otherwise inns o be something in the International Spirit.

  11. Maybe next time the readers of Universe Today will get to pick the name- I bet that we could do a better job there are so many deserving candidates!
    Fill in the blank and forward to NASA_______________.

  12. There are challenging undertones to Colbert’s humor which NASA would do well to stay away from. His joke on this is that the voting represents American democracy in action which shows that its media spin and airtime that gains the power in politics.

  13. In response to “Silver Thread” all they do next time is put in a clause it can’t be named after a celebrity or something.

    Although node Bababooey would be cool.

  14. Colbert is a crazy fool. I guess he won, but I would have prefered Serenity. I didn’t hear about the naming contest until I seen it on his show.

    I agree with Kevin, next time I’m sure the rules will be changed.

  15. in response to those who say the module is funded by tax payers money and should not be named after a celebrity…….i am pretty sure it was the tax payers who voted on the name so why should it not count????

  16. Colbert seized an opportunity and won the contest without breaking any of the rules. If there are sour grapes about “a celebrity” winning, blame the people who made the rules for the contest – not Colbert, his fans, or NASA at large.

    I, for one, would see it as a slap in the face to a comedian who brought a lot of publicity to the program to name the toilet after him. Maybe Colbert wouldn’t see it that way, himself, but I think the least they could do is to name the cupola “The Colbert Bump” in honor of all those who legitimately voted for him. Though, truely, I think they should honor the wishes of the contest participants and just name the damn thing “Colbert”.

  17. A major element of Colbert’s humor has always been about making fun of political spin. He occasionally uses spin to see what kind of silly things he can get people to do. Remember his Presidential bid?

    I think that he does it to try to raise awareness of how much politicians use spin to control people. This is a GOOD thing. It makes people think.

    NASA will name the module whatever they please. I’m pretty sure that from the beginning the poll was nothing more than a “suggestion” by popular vote in technical terms. But if NASA wants to maintain control over it’s future, this use of spinning HAS to be something they gain control over. Otherwise, people with much less pure motives than Steven Colbert will be able to tell them what to do. That is another part of the lesson.

  18. “There are challenging undertones to Colbert’s humor which NASA would do well to stay away from. His joke on this is that the voting represents American democracy in action which shows that its media spin and airtime that gains the power in politics.”

    If only it were just a joke… unfortunately spin and airtime are the primary sources of public opinion – there’s no such thing as an informed public anymore. The sheep pretty much herd in whatever direction they’re pointed toward.

  19. On Colbert’s tax return it says under
    occupation: Entertainer/comedian.

    That’s all you need to know –

    He has daily access to the public airwaves and has millions of rabid fans who hang on his every word – flooding a voting site at his request
    is ludicrous on its face and has no validity whatever –
    the people who did so did not care one wit what it
    was for – these zombies were simply following their marching orders – again. Sad.

    This has NOTHING to do with NASA’s
    ability or inability playing the PR game –

    Anyone who thinks it does has missed the point entirely (again).

    He’s a funny intelligent guy but what the hell is wrong with everybody out there?

  20. Wow! Many of you guys here seriuosly need an injection of sense of humor. Jeeze. These comments are even crazier than the idea of naming the module Colbert.

    Steve Colbert made a joke, OK? A good one, as is his custom. Part of the joke was winning the name contest. That was the whole comedic point, and of course he is getting as much as he can out of the joke.

    NASA officials got the joke and played along. I’m guessing Colbert has a sizeable fan base among NASA people, being the nerd he is 😀 Good for NASA, and good for Colbert.

    The joke will end when the name gets revealed, NASA names the module Serenity, Colbert pretends to be outraged, and they (well, Colbert) find some humorous way to solve the matter. And then they’ll both move along, Colbert to make fun of the next silly polititian, NASA to do whatever they do when they are not naming stuff. End of story.


  21. NASA should stick to serious work (if they can remember what that is anymore) and get out of the gimmicky nonsense they seem to encourage their managers to partake in.

  22. Jorge, you are right if Nasa treats this as the joke it is, but how do you know that they will? If they don’t, it’s a real problem. When government starts taking orders from TV comedians, we do not become more democratic, we become a manipulated mob, governed by cults of unaccountable personalities.

  23. “we become a manipulated mob, governed by cults of unaccountable personalities.”

    Too late.

    Or were you in a coma from 2000 to 2008?

  24. I still think they should name the toilet after him so when things go wrong they can say “It has now all gone done the Colbert.”

  25. Jorge, you are right if Nasa treats this as the joke it is, but how do you know that they will?

    Call it an educated guess.

    And, in any case, to argue about it is futile. We’ll know soon enough. Just 3 more days of patience.

    (Note to NASA. Here’s a suggestion: next time you have a module to name, call it Patience) 🙂

  26. How many of you have actually watched the interviews on his show with NASA people in it? NASA is obviously in on this joke. I definately cannot say the same about all the posters here though; some of you need to chill out a little bit.

  27. I must be the only one who thinks “Colbert” is a fine name for a module for the ISS. Let’s save “Serenity” for something a bit more profound, like a Mars rover or something. =)

    PS Yes I am a Colbert Report fan. =D

  28. Some of the people who post on this site, have seriously warped views of the world.

    There is absolutely no reason not to name the module Colbert. If NASA intended to choose their own name for it, they should have limited the vote to the 4 original names, instead of allowing write ins.

  29. “KevinM Says:
    April 11th, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Jorge, you are right if Nasa treats this as the joke it is, but how do you know that they will? If they don’t, it’s a real problem. When government starts taking orders from TV comedians, we do not become more democratic, we become a manipulated mob, governed by cults of unaccountable personalities.”

    Yes, because HOLDING AN OPEN VOTE, is the same as taking orders…

  30. I don’t see what the big deal is. If anything, this kind of publicity is just what NASA needs.

    If it exposes more people to space exploration, then that’s great.

    There’s ne reason to get all upset over something as light hearted as this.

  31. Also, if you don’t like the idea of Colbert getting the name, maybe you should have encouraged others to vote for something else, instead of complaining about “mob rule” and other silly nonsense.

  32. NASA suffers from a serious lack of PR. Sure, they get government funding, but if they got anything near what the pentagon gets every 6 months (600+ billion) then we’d be flying to the moon for the heck of it.

    They obviously were looking to get the word out about some module that nobody really cares about (in the general media).

    Also the Colbert report and the Daily show both have many authors of books on science and astronomy and have interviewed Degrass-Tyson more than once. NASA needs the help. Other media outlets seem to only want to cover NASA stuff when there is an explosion and people die. (like sensationalists fox news)

  33. As Rick said, Steven Colbert and John Stewart present more science to the viewers of their half-hour comedy “news” shows than virtually all real “news” shows do combined, unless, of course, something sensational happens. Rick’s only error was putting the words “fox” and “news” in the same sentence.

    Steven Colbert would not be able to play this sort of game over and over again if he did not have the informed trust and confidence of his viewers, and I expect him to handle the situation on Tuesday night with his usual class and composure. Am I a sheep? Ewe bet I am!

  34. Rick says NASA should stick to “serious work” and not “gimmiky nonsense.”

    I’m from a family of engineers that have been involved with making NASA’s missions successful. They weather endless idiotic political appointments and budget cuts/increases/cuts/increases.

    The people I know have ONE goal… a successful mission where everyone comes home alive. They wouldn’t care less if the new node was named “Mildred.”

    Personally, I love Colbert and believe that this exposure can only be good for NASA. Do I think that they should name the node after him? Well, I have to consider the flip side. What if it was going to be named “Limbaugh” …wait I can’t stop laughing.

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