As of Monday night (March 23rd), NASA had yet to officially announce the name of the upcoming Node 3 to be attached to the International Space Station. There is some controversy with the voting process as Stephen Colbert, presenter of the Comedy Channel’s “Colbert Report”, used his significant media presence to secure a win of the vote after appealing to his audience to vote for “Colbert”. NASA allowed the name to remain as a candidate and it went on to win the competition. Naturally, this outcome drew some surprise and doubt as to whether NASA will keep “Colbert” at all. In second place is the far more palatable “Serenity”, more suitable on so many levels.
However, should NASA go with the popular vote and name Node 3 “Colbert”, it might be seen as setting a bad president that celebrities can use their TV presence to force the outcome of what should be a scientific vote (and therefore get some stellar free advertising). If NASA decides not to use “Colbert” in favour of the second official choice of “Serenity”, NASA will suffer accusations of preventing the democratic process, thereby making public participation in mission naming a farce. Either way, although fairly minor, there could be some trouble ahead, and possibly bad press for NASA.
Therefore, as the Brian Bat Foundation‘s first official business, we are putting forward a proposition that in the event of a Node 3 naming dispute, NASA should consider using another, more suitable name for Node 3. It is not the name, it is the memory that is important, the memory of Brian the Discovery Bat who lost his life during the launch of the most recent shuttle mission to the ISS, STS-119. The Node 3 voting process was nearly over on that fateful Sunday night at Cape Canaveral, so voting for the name “Brian” wasn’t a possibility.
It’s about time Brian and all the other animals that have sacrificed their lives in the name of human space exploration are remembered in space as well as on the ground. Perhaps a component on the orbiting manned outpost could be the ideal location for such a memorial. Now that would be awesome!