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NASA names treadmill after Colbert

One small step for NASA, one giant running leapfor Stephen Colbert.

NASA announced Tuesday that it won't name a room in theinternational space station after the comedian. Instead, it hasnamed a treadmill after him.

NASA earlier held an online contest to name a room (or "node")at the international space station. With write-in votes, the name"Colbert" beat out NASA's four suggested options: Serenity,Legacy, Earthrise and Venture.

On Tuesday's "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central, astronautSunita Williams announced that NASA -- which always maintained ithad the right to choose an appropriate name -- would not name thenode after Colbert.

Instead, Node 3 will henceforth be called Tranquility, theeighth most popular response submitted by respondents in the poll.The node's name alludes to where Apollo 11 landed on the moon -- theSea of Tranquility.

NASA and Colbert compromised by naming a treadmill used forexercising in space after Colbert. NASA, itself an acronym(National Aeronautics and Space Administration), often names thingsso they spell out something fun. And that's what they did with theCombined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill(COLBERT).

Sophisticated treadmills are crucial for living in space forlong periods of time, as astronauts do on the space station; theyhelp keep astronauts fit and their bones from losing strength.Williams ran a marathon on one while living at the space station in2007, jogging in place to coincide with the Boston Marathon.

The COLBERT treadmill is a new version that will be operationalin August, NASA spokesman Mike Curie said.

"We don't typically name U.S. space station hardware afterliving people and this is no exception," Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA'sassociate administrator for space operations, said, adding: "Wehave invited Stephen to Florida for the launch of COLBERT and toHouston to try out a version of the treadmill that astronauts trainon."


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