Why A Treadmill Named After Stephen Colbert Was Sent To Space

In 2009, The Guardian reported that NASA ran a contest asking what people thought they should name a new room in the International Space Station, but made it clear that their pick was “Serenity,” which matched the tone and vibe of ISS rooms “Unity” and “Harmony.” However, they allowed write-in votes, and at the satirical Colbert’s drunk-with-power urging, his fans wound up voting for the new room to be named after Colbert, winning the contest by a formidable 40,000 votes.

In the end, NASA graciously opted out of having the ISS living room be Colbert’s ultimate namesake but they wanted to honor the contest results somehow. According to NASA’s website, engineers had been working hard for two years on a new treadmill to be installed in the space station, with a dull working title of “T-2,” due to it being the second treadmill to go on the ISS. And voila, the “Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill,” a.k.a. “COLBERT,” was born!

Curt Wiederhoeft, project manager for the treadmill, said, “I think it’s great for NASA that Mr. Colbert got his audience interested in the space station. Comedy Central attracts a lot of younger viewers, and the space program’s going to need the next generation’s support and interest.”

The COLBERT was still out there, helping keep space-dwelling astronauts healthy as recently as 2020, according to Space.com!

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