Last night marked a huge win for Stephen Colbert. While it was obvious that NASA wouldn’t ever consider naming Node three “Colbert” in the first place, even after more than 230,000 people wrote in, they managed to get away with their choice of name pretty neatly by sending Suni Williams as a guest to The Colbert Report and announcing the name as well as the consolation prize for Stephen.
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Space Module: Colbert – Sunita Williams|
This is a big win for Stephen Colbert and his show, and I will tell you why. First of all the three “Nodes” on the Space station have all been named in a way that corresponds to space and the purpose of the ISS as a whole. The Nodes’ purpose is to connect the different parts of the station to one another — each has six docking ports (forward, aft, port, starboard, zenith and nadir — the last four meaning left, right, up and down in direction of travel).
The first one most fittingly was named “Unity,” being the first US-Part of the ISS in space after the first two Russian modules docked over ten years ago. Node two was named “Harmony,” chosen from over 2,200 suggestions from kindergarten to high school students. In the end it was clear that naming the third and final Node was again purely a suggestion process. How would “Colbert” fit in with Unity and Harmony, especially when you consider that the Cupola part of the station would be permanently attached to Node three, serving as an observational post in space? Anyone who’s ever watched an IMAX video of a space mission knows that something expressing the feelings you have when you watch Earth from space would be chosen. Even “Serenity” would’ve worked better than Colbert.
But both NASA and Stephen still won yesterday evening by NOT accepting the majority vote and I found it logical, funny and extremely satisfying. You see, I know a little bit about Space and NASA, and when I first started blogging on my own blog, I wrote about the wonderful fact that NASA chose to stream their own TV channel, NASA TV, online. For me, being from Europe, that was a feat that kept me glued to my computer for hours on end, watching the round-the-clock live feed of every Space Shuttle Mission of 2007 and 2008 as long as I could keep my eyes open, watching Solar Panels attached, torn, repaired, new modules from Europe and Japan being attached to Node two, et cetera.
What came across during those mission feeds was one of the most integral parts of the Space Station — to battle muscle and bone atrophy in space. And with naming the treadmill that is going up into space somewhere around August of this year the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resisting Treadmill — COLBERT — everybody wins in an extremely satisfying way. The Nodes keep names that are displaying the purpose of the station and underlining the value of interconnection between nations and their modules. They reflect their purpose. NASA keeps its integrity, still choosing the names and calling the shots. By sending one of the most charismatic astronauts to The Colbert Report to announce the name, they got publicity (just like with the write-in process), generating buzz for the race into space (with the ISS being the first landmark towards a new lunar space station as a stepping stone toward Mars).
But most importantly, the fact that most of the time nobody on the Space Station will utter the name of Node three all the time, saying “I’ll be going to Tranquility now.” Most of the time the Astronauts are talking about what they are going to do. Trust me, the name “COLBERT” will be uttered so often on NASA TV your head will spin — and on top of that, the treadmill is so important for keeping the astronauts healthy that it will always be more important than the “box” that is Node three — around Colbert.
You can’t imagine the glee and joy I experienced today while watching last night’s episode. So stay tuned, maybe watch NASA TV in the fall and see Colbert go up into space, and maybe get excited about something nerdy as a treadmill in space, like me.