Tranquility (ISS module)

Tranquility (ISS module)
Tranquility photographed just before being installed to Unity node
Tranquility with Cupola

Tranquility, also known as Node 3, is a module of the International Space Station (ISS). ESA and the Italian Space Agency had Tranquility built by Thales Alenia Space. A ceremony on November 20, 2009 transferred ownership of the module to NASA.[1] On February 8, 2010, NASA launched the module on the Space Shuttle's STS-130 mission.

The module provides six berthing locations, however three of those locations are disabled as modules originally planned to be attached to Tranquility were canceled. STS-130 also brought the Cupola, a large window module and robotics work station to the ISS which will be attached to the nadir-side of Tranquility. The module also includes various ISS systems, including additional life support systems.



View from inside the Cupola

Tranquility was built within the ESA-NASA ISS bartering system. ESA committed to build and fund both Harmony and Tranquility as well as the ATV in order to use NASA ISS facitilies, fly astronauts on the Shuttle and for other ISS services. ESA teamed up with the Italian Space Agency ASI to build both Harmony and Tranquility at Thales Alenia Space in Turin.

Tranquility provides six berthing locations with power, data and commanding, thermal and environmental control, and crew access for more attached habitable volumes or for crew transportation vehicles or stowage, or an appropriate combination of all of these. One of the berthing locations is used by Cupola, which houses a Robotic Work Station inside it to assist in the assembly/maintenance of the ISS as well as offer a window for earth observations. Tranquility was launched with the Cupola attached to mating adapter earthward facing port. After mating Tranquility with the port Common Berthing Mechanism of Unity, the Cupola was transferred to the nadir facing port of Tranquility where it will stay. The module has three redundant ports that are currently not scheduled to be used, although there is a Power Data Grapple Fixture reserved for the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, which is located on the zenith berthing location. Because the current ISS configuration requires Tranquility to be docked to the port berthing location of Unity, the three unused berthing locations of Tranquility have been disabled and would mostly be blocked by the station's other segments in any event. The docking module PMA-3 has been relocated to the port berthing location of Tranquility. The move of PMA-3 to the port location of Tranquility was required because NASA decided to leave the MPLM Leonardo permanently attached to the ISS, which will be located at the nadir side of Unity.

In 2001, NASA considered changing the design of the module. This idea for an extended or "stretched" module,[2] was a result of the deferral/deletion of the Habitation module. The stretched module would have held 16 racks compared with the baseline capacity of eight racks. This modification was not funded and the plans were abandoned.


The module will contain the most advanced life support systems ever flown in space[citation needed]. These systems will recycle waste water for crew use and generate oxygen for the crew to breathe. In addition, Tranquility will contain an atmosphere revitalization system to remove contaminants from the atmosphere and monitor/control the atmosphere constituents of the ISS. Tranquility will also contain a Waste and Hygiene Compartment (toilet) for supporting the on-board crew.

Tranquility will primarily be used for exercise, storage, and robotics work in connection with Cupola.


Tranquility in the SSPF.

Tranquility was located in the clean room at the Thales Alenia Space Turin site until 2009.[3] It was shipped to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on May 17 and arrived in Florida on May 20, 2009. It was officially welcomed to KSC on June 8, 2009.[4]

Tranquility was launched on February 8, 2010 onboard the STS-130 mission flown by Endeavour.[5] It was berthed to the port side of Unity on February 12, 2010.[6]

Naming contest

NASA held an online poll to name Node 3. Users were allowed to choose from among four provided names (Earthrise, Legacy, Serenity, and Venture), or to suggest their own.[7] In early voting, fans of the science fiction TV series Firefly boosted "Serenity", also the name of the show's film and eponymous spacecraft, to the top with 86%.[8] On the March 3, 2009, episode of The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert instructed his viewers to suggest "Colbert" as the name for Node 3 in the online poll.[9]

Following Colbert's call to have the node named after him, several other groups attempted to influence the vote. For example, a number of different environmental groups promoted the name "Amazonia", after the Amazon Rainforest. They argued that the name was more appropriate given that Node 3 will include the station's environmental control systems.[10] Humorist Dave Barry urged readers of his blog to name the node "Buddy", which finished as the sixth most popular user-suggested name.[11] Gaia Online asked its users to "Send Gaia to Space" by naming the node "Gaia", referring to the Greek goddess of the planet Earth,[12] and "Gaia" finished third among the user-suggested names.[11] Other popular user suggestions included "myYearbook", "SocialVibe", "Ubuntu", and the name of Scientology's galactic overlord: "Xenu".[11]

Colbert urging his viewers on the March 3, 2009 airing of The Colbert Report to vote for the node to be named after him.

On March 23, 2009, NASA announced that the overall vote winner was "Colbert", with 230,539 votes. Nearly 1.2 million votes were cast in total.[13] "Serenity" was the top choice among the NASA-provided names, with 70% of the vote, but finished second overall, losing to "Colbert" by more than 40,000 votes.[11][13] The naming contest rules, however, state that although the poll results will be taken into account, NASA has ultimate discretion in choosing an appropriate name for the node.[7] On April 6, 2009, Stephen Colbert, in jest, threatened a lawsuit if the node was not named after him.[14] In addition, United States Congressman Chaka Fattah stated that he believes that paying attention to democracy and voting results should not be limited to earthbound organizations so he planned to use congressional power to force NASA to honor the winning Colbert write-in votes.[15]

On April 14, 2009, astronaut Suni Williams appeared on The Colbert Report, and announced the name of the node would be Tranquility. The name was chosen in honor of the 40th Anniversary of the first lunar landing of Apollo 11 on the Sea of Tranquility.[16] However, the treadmill the astronauts use for exercise will be named "C.O.L.B.E.R.T." for "Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill" and will be located in Tranquility.[17] Colbert was thrilled and happily accepted this offer. The treadmill traveled to space aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-128 on August 28, 2009, for eventual installation in the Tranquility node during STS-130.

Image gallery


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Space Shuttle astronauts visit Thales Alenia Space in Turin". Skycontrol. 
  4. ^ "European-built ISS module welcomed to KSC". ESA. 
  5. ^ "NASA - Consolidated Launch Manifest". NASA. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  6. ^ "STS-130 Mission Status Center". Spaceflight Now. 
  7. ^ a b "Help NASA Name Node 3! - Contest Rules". NASA. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  8. ^ Cynthia (2008-03-02). "Help NASA Name a Node". SF Universe. 
  9. ^ "Name the NASA Module After Stephen". 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  10. ^ "Amazonia vs. Colbert". Amazoniavscolbertproject. Retrieved 2008-03-04. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Help NASA Name Node 3!". NASA. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  12. ^ "Let's send Gaia to SPACE!". Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  13. ^ a b "Oops: Colbert wins NASA space station name contest". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2008-03-23. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Space Module: Colbert - Urine Recycling Room". The Colbert Report. Comedy Central. April 8, 2009.
  15. ^ Mark, Roy (March 26, 2009). "Lawmaker Backs Stephen Colbert's NASA Win". eWeek. Retrieved March 31, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Station Module Named 'Tranquility' to Honor Apollo 11". NASA. Retrieved 2009-12-01. 
  17. ^ "NASA names space module for moon base ...not Colbert". collectSPACE. 

External links

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