The Sciences

ISS Node 3: Colbert clause

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitMar 23, 2009 11:03 PM

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I am getting swamped with notes from folks saying that the new node to be put on ISS next year will be named "Colbert". But it's not that simple. As you may recall, NASA opened up a contest to name Node 3, a connecting module to be put on the International Space Station next February. The name "Serenity" (awesome!) was doing very well, and then my arch-enemy Stephen Colbert started asking his Nation to send in votes. Next thing you know, there were 230,000 votes for "Colbert", 40,000 more than for "Serenity". But this is not over, because NASA was smart in the original contest. Check out Contest Rule #4:

NASA will take into consideration the results of the voting. However, the results are not binding on NASA and NASA reserves the right to ultimately select a name in accordance with the best interests of the agency, its needs, and other considerations. Such name may not necessarily be one which is on the list of voted-on candidate names. NASA’s decision shall be deemed final.

I'll watch Colbert tonight, and I'm sure he'll claim victory. But that clause means NASA doesn't have to use the winning entry! Of course, it would be smart in a PR way for NASA to name it "Colbert" -- and even if they don't, I just bet the astronauts will, informally -- but we'll see. I'm still holding out for the right choice. After all, like the man said, you treat her proper, she'll be with you for the rest of your life.

Serenity logo courtesy collinrego's Flickr photostream.

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