Name a piece of the space station

By Phil Plait | February 25, 2009 9:00 am

NASA’s doing something cool: they’re letting people vote on the name for Node 3 on the International Space Station. Node 3 is a connecting module, letting space dwellers go from one section of the ISS to another.

The very cool thing? The name Serenity is winning! So I urge all BABloggees who are also Browncoats to go and make sure Captain Tightpants’ ride becomes enshrined in space history. Voting lasts until March 20th, so vote early and vote often.

A good vision for Node 3 on ISS

Serenity logo courtesy collinrego’s Flickr photostream.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, NASA
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Comments (69)

  1. The cul de sac of Douglas.

  2. RickK

    Can’t we reserve that name for the first manned Mars flight?

  3. I voted for Sagan.
    Nobody else did that I could tell.
    Bummer!

  4. I notice that NASA has a ‘ Suggest Your Own ‘ name-box too.

    How about ‘ FutureJunk ‘ ? , or ‘ Taxpayer ‘ ?

  5. Justin

    I wrote-in Tranquility last week, and it appeared in the “Top Five Submissions” list. Seems like a nice nod to the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 and it fits the Unity-Harmony theme.

  6. Greg in Austin

    Serenity Now! Serenity Now! That’s all I can hear.

    Can they call the little glass-room the Angry Dome?

    8)

  7. Greg in Austin

    @Martin g,

    I know you’re just kidding. If you weren’t, you would be quickly reminded that NASA gets less than 1% of the national budget today. Then, you would be reminded of all of the everyday luxuries you enjoy that are direct spinoffs of the space program. As examples:
    sti.nasa.gov/tto/
    thespaceplace.com/nasa/spinoffs.html

    Oh, and that “Oxygen Generation System (OGS), which takes the station’s water and splits it apart into hydrogen, which gets vented into space, and oxygen, which is returned into the cabin for the crew to breathe.” Is that the same technology that Japanese car that runs on water? uk.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=84561

    Maybe the name for Node 3 should be Knowledge.

    8)

  8. Hah! Serenity is winning at 82%.

  9. Jay

    “Hah! Serenity is winning at 82%”

  10. Jay

    Hah! Serenity is winning at 82%.

    Can’t stop the signal :)

  11. This is the module with the O2 generator? Why not call it “Gas Passer”?

  12. Note that Serenity also fits in with the theme and tone of the other two module names, which are Unity and Harmony.

    None of the other names flow as well as Unity, Harmony, and Serenity. All the others sound like “Unity Harmony, and Bob.”

    I would say that, even were voters not Serenity fans, people are more likely to pick Serenity because it just sounds right.

  13. hale_bopp

    Serenity now! Serenity now!

    Sorry, someone had to do it.

  14. knobody

    but if we name that serenity, then we risk not having a new launch vehicle named serenity. i’d rather have something that flies around and lands and flies around some more be named serenity than a space station module that doesn’t move once it’s in place.

  15. Mighty T

    @Carriep
    For a long minute there the Browncoat in me had to fight a part of me that suddenly emerged out of nowhere, a part of me that apparently thinks having a space station piece named ‘Bob’ would be just too good.

    “We’re currently floating through Bob…”

  16. Andy Beaton

    I’m not really a Firefly fan, but there’s already been an Enterprise, and I thought maybe some other geeks should get a turn.
    Tardis would have been cool too.

  17. I’m not sure that starship names are really appropriate here. I mean, NASA’s only going to name so many things “ENTERPRISE” or “SERENITY” to avoid confusion. We might want to save those names for a next-generation lunar lander, or perhaps an interplanetary probe, rather than a poop-management capsule.

  18. If starship names are not appropriate how about Jane’s town.

  19. “NASA has a space station which is doing precious little if no science at all.” – Bad Astronomer

    Let’s name it “resource suck hole” (RSH Node) for starving off funding for much better, science focused missions. Missions of actual cutting edge discovery and exploration of our solar system and the universe. I think I’m more on the page with the thinking of the editorial board over at The Economist on this one.

    Sorry, got some bah-humbug in me this morning apparently….just a bummer that NASA is still committed to the George Bush vision of space exploration. I can just imagine his voice in my head (like Jon Stewart’s impression) – “Ya see NASA we need to get some nice big pan-0-ramic windows up there in space to do some of that science! Yeeha!”.

  20. QUASAR

    Voting for a name to be given to a module? That’s something you don’t see everyday!

  21. Mount

    Phil, “what in the sphincter of hell are you playin’ at?” It’s a space station, so it needs a sci-fi space station name. How about Katratzi? The secret Scarran base where Crichton holds up a peace conference with a home made nuke, and offers to sell WMD’s (wormholes of mass destruction) to the highest bidder!

    Of course Katratzi wasn’t on the list, so Serenity it is.

  22. «bønez_brigade»

    I voted for Beavis. He definitely “reflect[ed] the spirit of exploration”, as he explored various unknown regions of Highland (and himself).
    None of the other names seemed worthy of such a title.

  23. «bønez_brigade»

    BTW, I really like that little window thingy they put on Node 3.

  24. don

    I suggested “Voyager”. Couldn’t tell if it had been suggested before.

    This has several connotations. First there are the distant spacecraft that traveled past the gas giants. Then there is the starship from one of the StarTrek series. Voyager carries the majesty of these vessels plus it indicates one of its primary functions as a passageway between sections of the ISS.

  25. John Phillips, FCD

    @Mount, there is a box underneath the list where you can enter a suggestion of your own.

  26. “What are the civilian applications?” Lets get a bit more cultured round here… darn, it doesn’t fit.

  27. Sir Eccles

    I like “Node3” it has got that functional feel to it.

  28. Joe Meils

    Remember what happened with the Shuttle? All the Trekkies got riled up, and DEMANDED that they name the first shuttle Enterprise… Fine, NASA said, we’ll name the first drop test vehicle “Enterprise”… “Hooray!” said the fans.

    “Oh, BTW, we DID menation that that particular vehicle will never go into orbit, or be a functional shuttle, right?”

    “Um.. hooray?” said the fans, weakly.

  29. Paul

    Bohr — A biography of Niels Bohr is titled Harmony and Unity

  30. Sean

    The name Serenity seems appropriate simply because of the observation windows in the module. That’s where I’d go to get a little peace and Serenity on the ISS.

    -S

  31. Could they scrap this thing and launch another Orbiting Carbon Observatory instead?

    The OCO would have been a lot more useful than the ISS, which seems to mostly exist for the sake of existing.

  32. Wilco

    Even with the pretty window, I doubt NOD3 will be peaceful. It’ll probably be one of the louder places in the US segment once all the life support and exercise equipment is moved in.

    I don’t even want to think about the elevated radiation exposure in the Copula.

  33. holastefan

    At first glance, it looked like the image had the name “Scrutiny”. For a brief moment I enjoyed the (fiscal) irony.

  34. Sean

    I thought the ISS’ low-orbit meant it was protected by the Earth’s magnetic field from the nastier forms of radiation? If the “glass” is dense and UV filtered, is radiation really an issue?

    -S

  35. I thought it was Captain Hammer?

    (The “hammer” is my- well, you know.(Nathan Fillion needs your geek cred. (Can I do this with parenthesis (parentheses?) outside of mathematics?))

  36. Keith

    Yay! Serenity FTW!
    One of the ‘Top 10 Suggestions” is Vista??? Why would you name an important piece of space hardware after the crappiest computer operating system in history?

  37. Donnie B.

    “Serenity” is appropriate both for its Browncoaty goodness, and also because it will house the Urine Processor Assembly. After all, where would the urine go if the station wasn’t wearing its Serenity?

    I wonder how many of the voters are choosing it for that reason.

    (For those outside the US who may miss the reference, there’s a brand of adult diapers by that name.)

  38. «bønez_brigade»

    @Keith [post #?],
    Vista is the 2nd crappiest OS in history. How soon you forgot about WinME.

  39. Thom

    I like the name “Serenity” and I miss the show, however…

    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.”

    Do you think they might reject the name because of the overwhelming percentage appears as if someone is abusing the system?

  40. Damn,

    Serenity is such a cool name I had to vote for it (84% at the moment), and I already had something picked out — I really wanted to suggest they call it “Node 3”.

  41. Is it just me or does it look astonishingly like R2D2?

  42. maudyfish

    It should be something catchy!

    The ISS Luckenbach

    A little play on words but has lots of meaning to Texans and of course
    it could mean looking back as in seeing the stars in a different time and looking back at Earth.

  43. Mick

    Not to get totally off topic, but in regards to the comment about Vista, it really helps when you actually know something about what you are talking about. Vista is hardly the crappiest (or even 2nd crappiest) operating system in the history of OS’es.

    This is a tired argument thrown around by those who have either never tried it and are basing their opinion merely on what they have read/been told, or those who want to sound ‘hip’ by saying they hate something that lots of other people say they hate also.

    The OS is stable, clean, and leaps and bounds ahead of XP in practically every way you could imagine. Yes, there was some missteps in how the OS was marketed and sold, but we are talking about a piece of software that is actually very good, almost surprisingly so if you were to rate it merely on word of mouth. It really is a lot better than XP (barring a few minor mistakes that will be polished out hopefully in Windows 7) and I would recommend it to anyone.

    Anyway, enough on that, it just gets on my goat when people spout something like that without basing the opinion on anything even remotely tangible. “Its the crappiest OS in history lol!” Perfectly reasonable opinion if you had backed it up with some realistic claims, otherwise its just useless hyperbole.

    On topic – cool idea by NASA to do this, it helps make people feel like they actually have a stake in the process of putting that piece of hardware up in orbit. Clever move really. Also, I like how ‘Xenu’ is one of the most popular suggestions. Has Tom Cruise been stacking the votes? 😉

  44. I’ve suggested Fraternity…in spite of everything that’s the spirit with which I see the ISS. 😉

  45. Karnbeln
  46. dre

    You have stumbled into a dangerous grammatical area here… I think you should have said Captain Tightpants’s ride. He is singular, no matter if he has one pant or more (one britch or more?). Here’s an opportunity for you to say “tightpantses” aloud and be technically correct. Don’t let it slip away.

  47. TBRP

    Thom, I would think that rule #4 is there just in case the poll ends up saying the node should be called “Rick Astley,” or something like that.

  48. Todd W.

    @dre

    Actually, since the name ends in “s”, it is grammatically correct to have only the apostrophe, without the additional “s”.

  49. «bønez_brigade»

    @ Mick [6 posts back],
    Whoa, Vista fanboy. Your false dichotomy fails!

    “This is a tired argument thrown around by those who have either never tried it and are basing their opinion merely on what they have read/been told, or those who want to sound ‘hip’ by saying they hate something that lots of other people say they hate also.”

    I have used Vista quite a bit, and I am unimpressed (except for the visuals). And I’m not saying it sucks just to be “hip”. I think you might need to get to know more computer techs (and end users).

    As far as out-of-the-box user-friendliness and usability, Vista is somewhat of a disaster — _especially_ when pitted against XP. Although it looks nice, it is a resource hog. Then there’s the HW driver issues; sure, some of that falls on the HW mfrs, as well. For those of us who are tech-savvy, it isn’t too difficult to apply an XP look & feel to Vista — but why bother, when XP works great and runs on less expensive HW. I’ll wait for Windows 7, thanks; early reviews of it are sounding good.

  50. Mick

    Heh. Vista fanboy. Quite funny.

    You know, you presented an opinion with reasoning behind it which I appreciate, and respect your opinion. I don’t necessarily agree with it though.

    Sure I generalised, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that most people out there who think Vista is bad, truly haven’t tried it.

    The funny thing about specifically choosing XP today because it runs on cheaper hardware, is that it is a non-argument. There is hardly a computer being sold today (apart from Netbooks) that can’t run Vista perfectly fine, with no discernible performance difference.

    The first computer I installed Vista on was sub par to run it properly, and I knew that going in, *but* it still ran fine, the only issue being that it was slightly sluggish. Since my upgrade (which wasn’t top of the line by any stretch of the imagination) my new system runs Vista flawlessly, and I can say in all my time using Vista (around 2 years), I have never had a major system error, no blue screens, and only minor quibbles with some aspects of the OS – which the same could be said of using XP.

    I have recommended the OS to numerous people (who had systems that would handle it of course, would never recommend it as an upgrade OS for an old system), many of them people who were hesitant to try it since they had heard bad things. After using it, not one of them disliked it, with most commenting that they preferred it to XP. One I know – who is an expert user themselves – has downgraded to XP not because they disliked Vista (they said they prefer it actually), but because they feel their system can run XP better. Perfectly reasonable.

    Things to keep in mind, new computers are rarely sold with less than 2GB’s of memory, nearly always come with a graphics card of some kind, and are nearly always dual or more core systems. If you bought a system in the last 12 months, and are not using Vista, the only real question is… why? Your system would nearly certainly run it fine, and to be honest, it’s better to get Vista now, and get used to it. If you think general usability is a problem for end users with Vista, what are they going to think going straight to Windows 7 from XP? It shakes things up way more than Vista ever tried to, and the average user will definitely be confused by the new taskbar.

    To be honest, there was a media witch hunt against Vista – based on early issues which were resolved within the first few months – and has self propagated on the net with Anti-MS types having a field day. Anyone who thinks this isn’t true, and believes the hype that Vista is terrible, and the crappiest OS ever seriously is deluding themselves. It most definitely isn’t perfect, but it assuredly Microsoft’s best *finished* OS yet. I’m sure 7 will be better (than Vista) once its released, and I’m very happy with that. It will continue the trend of the new OS being better than the last (just don’t mind ME…).

    Anyway, your opinion, and you’re welcome to it. I’ll stop typing my wall of text now 😛

  51. Mick

    damn, that sure was a wall…

    the Too Long Didnt Read (TL;DR):

    Other opinions are fine with reasoning, maybe Vista isn’t as bad as people think it is, as long as you are using a PC bought in the last 12-24months.

  52. «bønez_brigade»

    That was TL, but I _D_R (_Did_ Read), ha!

    I’m sure there are plenty of people that meet the criteria you’ve laid down; but the majority of Vista users I’ve encountered (and I’ve encountered quite a few being in IT), well, they usually say otherwise. I’ve run into several people in the Vista fanboy camp, but they’ve definitely been the minority. (and when I say fanboy, I mean they were adamant!) And, also, from my experience providing tech support, aged computers are still _very_ prevalent. I’m in the Deep South, so it may be different in your area, but people around here aren’t exactly living on the bleeding edge of technology.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I’m just not a fan of bloated software. Now, Aero, and all of its effects are cool & nice to view; but Beryl (et al) can wipe the floor with Aero with far less HW reqs. XP is aging, for sure, but it still works like a f–in champ); my arms are wide open for Win7, thus far, though. I don’t think people will have a difficult time transitioning to Win7, especially those that went back to XP after trying Vista — and also b/c people are generally getting to be more tech savvy. And I see a great many of them breathing a sigh of relief that they (probably) won’t be needing a new computer just to run the new OS.

    Maybe we can agree on the WinME disaster, then. If I missed something in your reply, feel free to call me out on it. I can take it.

  53. «bønez_brigade»

    Also, mewonders if my prediction about the Universal Sigh of Relief™ is eligible for the $1E6?

  54. Mick

    They sure won’t need a new computer to run Win7, assuming they have a computer that can handle Vista fine. Win7 is basically a newer more polished Vista. Microsoft is being quite odd on this point too, claiming that this is a major release (Win7), but then in the same breath saying it is an evolution of Vista. It’s a weird one… If any release was a major release, it was definitely Vista.

    I am also quite sure that part of the resistance to Vista is purely stubborn refusal to change (for the average Joe user), due to the fact that they had been using XP for probably 6+ years. Microsoft can blame anything they want, but the biggest reason for Vista to be viewed poorly is that it took way too long to get released, people got used to XP, don’t want to change to the new one. The normal 3 year release cycle helps to prevent that, not so attached to the old OS.

    My experience is in Australia, so there is bound to be a difference there 😉 Regardless, I stand by the comment that the majority of people out there that dislike Vista, do so not from an experienced standpoint, but merely from the fact that theyve heard plenty of bad word of mouth. It’s just like movies that people say are terrible, you start thinking it must be as well if you hear it enough, even if you haven’t seen it. =D

  55. TheBlackCat

    The funny thing about specifically choosing XP today because it runs on cheaper hardware, is that it is a non-argument. There is hardly a computer being sold today (apart from Netbooks) that can’t run Vista perfectly fine, with no discernible performance difference.

    First, not everybody has a PC sold today. There are a lot of people still using older systems. And netbooks are by far the fastest growing segment of the computer market, I would not just dismiss them like that. Not running on them is a major problem.

    Finally, I have used Vista a fair amount on a new (1 year old) laptop with 2 gb ram. Yes, the computer runs Vista fine, if Vista is the only thing running. But when you get a lot of programs running, the system resources Vista consumes takes away from resources that should be available to other programs. I was using my laptop for presentations on a conference and it started getting really slow with 3 or 4 presentation open, I had to turn off practically everything that makes Vista Vista, put it below XP level actually, in order to get the performance back up to the needed levels. A computer with 2 gb of ram should not be struggling on a few presentations, it just shouldn’t happen. And it doesn’t happen on Linux even with far more desktop effects than Vista has on a system far less powerful than my laptop.

    Things to keep in mind, new computers are rarely sold with less than 2GB’s of memory, nearly always come with a graphics card of some kind, and are nearly always dual or more core systems.

    Desktops yes, for notebooks not necessarily. 2 gb is usually an upgrade, last time I checked.

    If you think general usability is a problem for end users with Vista, what are they going to think going straight to Windows 7 from XP? It shakes things up way more than Vista ever tried to, and the average user will definitely be confused by the new taskbar.

    You are assuming people will choose Windows 7. There are viable competitors that were not around when XP came out.

    To be honest, there was a media witch hunt against Vista – based on early issues which were resolved within the first few months – and has self propagated on the net with Anti-MS types having a field day.

    That was entirely Microsoft’s fault. They have no one to blame but themselves for that.

    Regardless, I stand by the comment that the majority of people out there that dislike Vista, do so not from an experienced standpoint, but merely from the fact that theyve heard plenty of bad word of mouth.

    So far you have given nothing to back up this assertion besides besides a few anecdotes about your friends. I remain unconvinced. My own experience with Vista was fairly negative.

    Microsoft is being quite odd on this point too, claiming that this is a major release (Win7), but then in the same breath saying it is an evolution of Vista. It’s a weird one… If any release was a major release, it was definitely Vista.

    “Major release” has a different meaning for Microsoft than for many other companies. Windows 7 really isn’t that much different from Vista (I got much lower performance ratings on 7 despite it supposedly being so much leaner than Vista).

  56. Ryan

    What’s the highest voted write-in candidate as I’m writing this, you ask?

    “Xenu”.

    I guess that’s what you get when you ask the internet. :-) Wouldn’t the irony be delicious if a space-traveling module named “Xenu” fell out of orbit and crashed into a volcano?

  57. Checking back on March 6th, I’m almost surprised that there’s no update on the write-in for COLBERT.

    J/P=?

  58. art vanderleigh

    damn you, Colbert, damn youuuuuuuuuu!

  59. Todd W.

    There was a little news tidbit today that Colbert had significantly more votes than any other name. Serenity is second.

  60. Kevin

    C’mon Phil!!! Muster your troops!!! Only a couple more days to put Serenity over the top.

    Come on people. Vote for Serenity every day until the end. Do it from every computer you own. Phone a friend. Or two. :)

  61. Mchl

    So the Serenity wins with 70% over Legacy 13%, Earthrise 9% and Venture 8%. Of publicly suggested names, Colbert comes as first, followed by MyYearBook and Gaia on third. Tom Cruise’s charisma was not enough to push Xenu into first three.
    NASA will announce the name chosen in April (as per contest rules, they’re not bound to use the winning name… or to use any of the proposed names actually… I hear certain astronomer wants the module to be named after an asteroid named after him).

  62. StevoR

    Great news! Thanks Mchl

    I hope NASA does abide by the majority’s wishes & use the name ‘Serenity’ for the Module – shiny! :-)

  63. Pete

    Anybody else thinks it looks like it says “scrunty”?

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