NASA to Unveil New Space Module's Name Tonight

Cast Your Vote to Name Space Station's New Room
An artist's conception of the installed Node 3 module on the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA)

The clockis ticking down to NASA?s launch tonight of the official name for a new spacestation room, which the space agency will unveil on Comedy Central with thehelp of comedian Stephen Colbert.

The namefor the module, currently known as Node 3, will be announced tonight at 11:30p.m. EDT (0330 April 15 GMT) on Colbert?s satirical television show ?TheColbert Report,? which the comedian used to urge his viewers - and later NASA -to namethe International Space Station room after himself. ?

NASA held anon-binding online poll to name the new cylindrical room last month, allowing thepublic to either choose one of the agency?s suggested titles - Earthrise,Serenity, Legacy or Venture - or write in their own candidate monikers. Once Colbertlearned of the voting poll, he used his show to campaign for his own name,urging viewers to write in ?Colbert.? The result was staggering. Colbert?s fanscast morethan 230,000 votes for the comedian, outdistancing NASA?s top suggestionSerenity by 40,000 ballots.

Tonight,NASA astronaut Sunita Williams - who lived aboard the station for nearly sevenmonths in 2006 and 2007 - will announce the final name for Node 3. But NASAchose to unveil the name on Colbert?s show because of the enthusiasm shown bythe comedian and his fans. ?

NASAspokesperson John Yembrick told that Node 3?s name wasselected early last week, but was unknown to Colbert or his show?s producers.

?We tookthe name that we thought would best fit Node 3,? said Yembrick, who did notreveal the name to

In theweeks that followed the poll results, Colbertrepeatedly challenged NASA to stick to the popular vote, even though thespace agency clearly stated from the outset that it would have the final say onNode 3?s name. Some reports suggested NASA would meet the comedian?s fanshalfway by naming Node 3?s spacetoilet after Colbert.

WhileWilliams will lift the curtain on Node 3?s final name, astronautsaboard the International Space Station and on Earth have said they areeager to see the new orbital room?s delivery no matter what it is ultimatelycalled. The module is set to be launched in February 2010 and house a spacetoilet, as well as eight refrigerator-sized equipment racks that will contain much ofthe outpost?s life support equipment.

Last month,NASA astronaut Kay Hire told that she was excited by Colbert?sefforts to attach his name to Node 3, if only because it brought the agency?s spaceexploration efforts to an audience that may otherwise not have taken aninterest.

Hire is oneof the astronauts who will deliver Node 3 to the space station. She said sheand her crewmates planned to vote in NASA?s naming poll and were eager to seeits results.

?It wouldneat if it was something kind of catchy again that got the attention of some folksthat maybe hadn?t paid attention previously,? Hire said. ?

NASAwill unveil the new name for Node 3 tonight on the "The ColbertReport," which will air on Comedy Central at 11:30 p.m. EDT. Check locallistings.

  • New Video - Tour the Space Station's Bathroom
  • Video - Space Station Acrobatics
  • New Show - Inside the International Space Station


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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.