Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT) - 07.19.17

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT) will be used to maintain bone, muscle, and cardiovascular conditioning on the International Space Station crewmembers. The COLBERT is instrumented to collect inflight research-grade data for experiments that are representative of critical mission tasks on future long-duration exploration missions.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Kevin MacNeill, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details


Facility Manager(s)
Kevin MacNeill, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

Facility Representative(s)
Information Pending

Developer(s) Information Pending

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2009 - May 2012

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
The COLBERT will be the second treadmill on the space station. The first was Treadmill with Vibration Isolation System (TVIS) which was overhauled during Expedition 20.


  • Onboard
  • ^ back to top

    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    • The COLBERT (Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill) will be the second treadmill on the International Space Station, adding to a complement of six different exercise devices already on board the ISS.

    • This new treadmill is a critical countermeasure device that will be used to keep the ISS crewmembers healthy while on-orbit and helps prepare them for return to Earth.

    • The COLBERT features data collection devices that will allow scientists and doctors to evaluate how effective the treadmill exercise is in reducing the amount of bone and muscle density loss due to microgravity exposure.

    • The COLBERT is designed so that ground experts can track crew health on orbit to create individual exercise prescriptions and uplink them to the crew. The information sent down to the ground experts will be used to determine how well the crewmembers are being conditioned or lack thereof and to adjust exercise prescriptions accordingly.
    In mid 2009 the International Space Station program expanded from three man to six man operations. The Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT) will accommodate the exercise needs of a six member crew and is a critical countermeasure device required to maintain crew health while on-orbit and prepare them for return to Earth. In microgravity, astronauts do not use their muscles as much as on Earth; without exercise, these muscles begin to atrophy (wasting). This can lead to bone density loss with symptoms similar to osteoporosis. To maintain crew health during extended visits to the ISS, several pieces of exercise equipment are employed. The COLBERT enables the ISS crews to meet medical and health needs by preventing bone, muscle and cardiovascular loss as well as neuromotor deconditioning in a microgravity environment. The COLBERT will compensate for the negative influence of microgravity on the ISS crewmembers. The treadmill is designed to allow walking and running exercises in a microgravity environment for maintenance of cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and the exercise of neurophysiological pathways and reflexes required to walk upon return to Earth. The COLBERT is also designed to minimize the transfer of dynamic forces caused by the operation of the treadmill so as not to disturb the microgravity environment of the ISS or impart excessive loads into the space station structure. The COLBERT utilizes a significant amount of existing NASA Program Hardware coupled with a commercially available high reliability treadmill. The Treadmill and supporting subsystems (power, cooling, etc.) are housed in an International Standard Payloads Rack (ISPR) and the vibration isolation system is a modified Passive Rack Isolation System (PaRIS). The harness that the subjects wear can be tightened or loosened depending on how much load you want to put on the muscles/bones during exercise. The Treadmill will operate in the following modes:
    • (Powered) Active Mode: Tread belt driven by an electric motor (normal treadmill)

    • (Powered) Passive Mode: Runner moves belt by pushing with his/her feet, motor resists tread motion, motor peak current provides adjustable resistance

    • Unpowered Mode: Motor is completely unpowered, runner pushes the belt with his /her feet, and the resistance is solely from the rolling resistance of the system
    In addition, the Treadmill will operate in a series of time-controlled stages, where each stage consists of a constant load and speed during that time with each stage having a 15-second minimum stage duration, and maximum stage duration of at least 3 hours. The Treadmill will have the capability to operate from a pre-programmed protocol, individualized and uplinked from the ground, for powered active and passive modes, as well as allowing crewmembers to input and adjust exercise protocols, in powered active and passive modes, before and during exercise. Furthermore, a crewmember can extend an exercise session without re-starting the protocol, and without interrupting data acquisition. In the active mode, the Treadmill will be able to provide speeds from 2.4 to 20 kilometers per hour (km/h) (1.5 to 12.4 mile per hour (mph)), with tread belt speed adjustment in 0.16 km/h (0.1 mph) increments. The COLBERT will maintain tread belt speed within 2 percent of the specified steady state speed for the maximum load of one body weight for a 95th percentile male. Tread belt speed ramp-up (acceleration) and ramp-down (deceleration) rates are both within 3.2 km/h/s (2 mph) per second, within load of one body weight for a 95th percentile male. Weekly tasks of the COLBERT will include cleaning of the handrails and display covers. Additionally, an overall inspection of the treadmill’s condition will need to be done. Routine maintenance tasks will need to be done every 6 months. All nuts and bolts should be thoroughly inspected. The rack space should be checked for vacuum accumulated debris. The running surface will also need to be cleaned. Checks will need to be done on the drive belt, the belt tension and for sharp edges and burrs on slat surfaces. Annual maintenance tasks include grease lubrication of the front and rear drums as well as rear drive shaft. The condition and alignment of the belt and drive shaft teeth should also be checked.

    ^ back to top


    Facility Operations

    • The COLBERT will allow a single crewmember to configure the device for any exercise configuration in less than 10 minutes from the untended or stowed configuration, or from any other exercise configuration and toggle power on and off with a single control.

    • The treadmill belt will begin movement and the exercise session initiated via crew action. The crewmember will be able to log into the system by selecting their name from a list and entering a unique private Personal Identification Number (PIN). A cool down protocol is also implemented that will take no more than a discrete single action for operation, last for five minutes and maintain speed of no less than 3.2 km/hr (2 mph) during the cool-down period.

    • The Treadmill will have a safety stop to remove power from the motor.

    ^ back to top

    Decadal Survey Recommendations

    Information Pending

    ^ back to top
    Results/More Information

    Information Pending

    Results Publications

    ^ back to top

    Ground Based Results Publications

    ^ back to top

    ISS Patents

    ^ back to top

    Related Publications

    ^ back to top

    Related Websites

    ^ back to top


    image NASA Image: JSC2009E140613 - The COLBERT is adapted from a regular treadmill available on Earth. Engineers designed a structure to support the device that will allow ISS crewmembers to operate the COLBERT without shaking the rest of the ISS.
    + View Larger Image

    image NASA Image: ISS020E043681 - Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk assembles and installs the COLBERT in its temporary place in the Harmony node of the International Space Station.
    + View Larger Image

    image NASA Image: ISS029E039858 - NASA astronaut Mike Fossum, Expedition 29 commander, is equipped with a bungee harness as he exercises on the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT) in the Tranquility node of the International Space Station.
    + View Larger Image