NASA Won't Commit to 'Stephen Colbert' Space Module Yet

Can a Comedian Take Over the Space Station?
Comedian Stephen Colbert has urged viewers of "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central to write-in his name for NASA's naming contest regarding a new space station module. (Image credit: Erin Patrice O'Brien/Comedy Central)

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert has been talking up the InternationalSpace Station recently, but NASA is iffy on naming a new module at the outpost afterthe comedian even if he wins the U.S. space agency's online naming contest.

On a recent episode of the "The ColbertReport," the eponymous host dismissed NASA's suggested name Serenity,which ledthe online voting as of last week, and challenged the U.S. space agency tohonor the popularity of his TV persona in the final outcome.

"Will you now commit to naming thatmodule Colbert if I win your online vote?" Colbert asked WilliamGerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for space operations, during asatellite interview on Tuesday.

"Well, we're going to have to go think about that aswe get all the votes and we see where we are," Gerstenmaier responded,noting that the voting continues until March 20.

"That's NASA's problem," Colbert said."You guys think too much."

The rules on NASA's contestsite say that the U.S. space agency will take the popular vote intoconsideration as part of its naming process, rather than as the ultimatedeciding factor. That contest focuses on naming Node 3, a new space module setto launch later this year to the space station.

Node 3 holds eight fridge-sized racks for many of thespace station's life support systems. It also houses an observation deck thatwould provide a working station for controlling the International SpaceStation's 57-foot robotic arm — not to mention excellent views for spacestation residents.

Colbert also brought up the future manned launchesplanned by nations such as India and Iran, and brought up the recentlaunch of NASA's Kepler space telescope.

"Folks, it is crucial that America leads way infinding habitable planets," Colbert noted. "Personally, I cannot waitto taste Ewok."

Colbert and Gerstenmaier discussed how NASA's newplanet hunter will try to spot Earth-like planets by the dimming of astar's light from the planet passing in front.

"America finds itself in a new space race,"Colbert said. "Parents, start naming your kids 'Buzz.'"

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Contributing Writer

Jeremy Hsu is science writer based in New York City whose work has appeared in Scientific American, Discovery Magazine, Backchannel, and IEEE Spectrum, among others. He joined the and Live Science teams in 2010 as a Senior Writer and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Indicate Media.  Jeremy studied history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania, and earned a master's degree in journalism from the NYU Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. You can find Jeremy's latest project on Twitter