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Stephen Colbert gets consolation namesake prize from NASA

Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert, treadmill, NASAStephen Colbert did not get his name emblazoned on a new node for the International Space Station (ISS)—but he did get an ISS treadmill named in his honor.

Astronaut and ISS veteran Sunita Williams appeared last night on the Colbert Report to unveil the name selected by NASA for the forthcoming ISS Node 3, a module that will house life-support equipment, a viewing cupola and a control station for a robotic arm. NASA decided not to go with "Colbert," the winner of an online poll the space agency conducted to help select a name for the node. (Colbert had urged viewers to write in his name, inciting a surge of votes that vaulted him into the top slot.)

The comedian appeared crestfallen as Williams announced that NASA had chosen to name the module "Tranquility," another write-in suggestion and a nod to the 40th anniversary in July of Apollo 11's landing on the moon at the Sea of Tranquility. But she quickly lifted Colbert's spirits by informing him that the ISS's new treadmill, scheduled for launch in August, will be christened the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT.

Williams assured the TV faux-news anchor that even without a node to call his own, his name would ring out from space. "Those will be the words that will be passed down on space-to-ground: 'It's time for me to jump on COLBERT,'" she joked.

Colbert seemed appeased by the modified honor, especially after seeing his face on a patch for COLBERT (above left). "I think the treadmill is better than a node," he told Williams. "You know why? The node is just the box for the treadmill."

Exercise on the ISS is no laughing matter—numerous studies have shown that extended stays in microgravity cause precipitate losses in bone and muscle mass. NASA has funded research to track the physiological effects of spaceflight in hopes of improving exercise regimens and equipment aboard the ISS and in future long-duration journeys.

Patch courtesy of NASA

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