Students Name Next U.S. Space Station Module ‘Harmony’

Students Name Next U.S. Space Station Module ‘Harmony’
Computer-generated artist's rendering of the International Space Station after the Harmony connecting node (circled in yellow) is relocated from the Unity node port side to the forward port of the Destiny Laboratory. (Image credit: NASA.)

A new hub-likemodule bound for the InternationalSpace Station (ISS) has a new name, Harmony, following a nationwide studentcompetition held by NASA, the space agency announced Thursday.

Formerlyknown by the simple title Node 2, the Harmony module [image]is due to launch towards the ISS in late August to serve as the attachmentpoint for new European and Japanese laboratories. NASA announced the new name duringa ceremony at the agency's Kennedy Space Center spaceport in Cape Canaveral,Florida.

"Thismodule will allow all international partner pieces of the station to connecttogether, so it's really wonderful that kids recognize that harmony isnecessary for space cooperation," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associateadministrator for space operations, in a statement.

  • VIDEO: Space Station Building Blocks

Builtfor NASA in Italy, the Harmony module isa 23.6-foot(seven-meter) long cylinder with diameter of about 14.5 feet (4.4 meters). Itis destined to be attached to the end of the station's U.S. Destiny laboratory [image]and serve as the gateway to the yet-to-launch European Columbuslaboratory [image],Japan'sKibo laboratory [image]and visiting pressurized cargo containers.

NASA's STS-120astronaut crew, commanded by veteranspaceflyer Pam Melroy, is expected to haul Harmony to the ISS aboard the space shuttle Atlantis no earlierthan Aug. 26. The mission is one of up to five planned NASAshuttle flights dedicated to ISS construction this year.

What'sin a name?

More than2,200 students in 32 states, ranging in grade from kindergarten to high school,competed in NASA'sNode 2 Challenge, which called on entrants to learn about the ISS, supply acandidate name, write an essay on the suggestion, and build a scale model ofthe new module [image1, image2].

But onlysix different classes ranging from Grades 3 to 9 suggested the name Harmony,NASA said, adding that Node 2 is the first U.S. piece of the ISS to be named bysomeone outside the space agency.

"We decidedthat the name for Node 2 should be Harmony because it also stands for thepeaceful bond and support between all the countries in the world," the 9thGrade class at Lubbock High School in Lubbock, Texas wrote in its essay. "Withthis in mind, we hope that one day everyone can join hands, and cooperate toimprove our society and develop space exploration, experimentation andresearch."

A NASApanel of spaceflight managers, researchers, engineers and educators chose Harmony"because the name symbolizes the spirit of international cooperation embodiedby the space station, well as the specific roleplayed by the module in tying together the international partner modules," thespace agency said.

NASA's listof the Node 2 Challenge winning schools includes:

  • Paul Cummins' 8th grade class at Browne Academy, Alexandria, Va.
  • Sue Wilson's 3rd grade class at Buchanan Elementary School, Baton Rouge, La.
  • Brigette Berry's 8th grade class at League City Intermediate School, League City, Texas
  • Bradley Neu's 9th grade science class at Lubbock High School, Lubbock, Texas
  • Yocum Russell's 3rd grade class at West Navarre Intermediate School, Navarre, Fla.
  • David Dexheimer's students at the World Group Home School, Monona, Wis.

Harmonywill join NASA's Destiny laboratory,Questairlock and Unitymodule (formerly Node 1) currently in orbit at the ISS. Russia's Zaryacontrol module, Zvezdaservice module and Pirs dockingcompartment, as well as a series of trusssegments and solar arrays, round the space station's current configuration[image].

WhileHarmony is the first U.S. piece of ISS to be named by someone outside NASA, it isnot the first time the agency has held a competition to name a space-boundvehicle. NASA held a nationwide competition to name the spaceshuttle Endeavour. The orbiter's name was announced in May 1989 by then-PresidentGeorge H.W. Bush.


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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.