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Sun, Apr 12, 2009

NASA To Reveal New ISS Module Name April 14 On Colbert Show

'I Hope They Name It After Me,' Comedian Quips

NASA plans to announce the name selected for the newest module for the International Space Station on April 14 - with the help of Expedition 14 and 15 astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams - on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report." The program will air at 11:30 pm EDT.

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 was moved ahead to April 14.

The name, which will not be publicly released until the program airs, was selected from thousands of unique suggestions submitted on NASA's web site. The "Help Name Node 3" poll asked people to vote for the module's name, either by choosing one of four NASA options or by offering their own suggestion. The poll closed on March 20.

"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."

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."

A staggering 1,190,437 people voted or suggested names for the module. Of the names submitted by the public, "Colbert" got the most votes. NASA's suggested names, in order of popularity, were "Serenity," "Legacy," "Earthrise," and "Venture." Of the four, "Serenity" was the overwhelming favorite, receiving 70 percent of the votes.

Although the poll received an overwhelming response and served its purpose in increasing the public's interest in Node 3, the rules of the contest state that the results of the voting are "not binding" and NASA "reserves the right to ultimately select a name in accordance with the best interests of the agency."

Node 3, targeted for launch in late 2009, 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.

FMI: www.nasa.gov/station, www.colbertnation.com

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