Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NASA announces the Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill
(a.k.a. the C.O.L.B.E.R.T)

Finally! A decision on the Node 3 naming contest.

Astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams appeared as a guest on the Colbert Report tonight and announced NASA's decision. Cut to the chase: they are not naming Node 3 after him. (Surprised? If so, why?)

The new Node 3 name will be...drumroll... Tranquility.

Colbert affected mock surprise and outrage. "You promised you'd put my name in space!" he protested.

Referring to notes written on her hand, Suni revealed that in August, NASA would be launching the "Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill" (a.k.a. the C.O.L.B.E.R.T). The treadmill will include the patch (see above).

Suni said when astronauts need to work out, they'll say, "Time for me to jump on COLBERT." The thought obviously pleased Stephen.

On the NASA page, Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations, explained further, "Apollo 11 landed on the moon at the Sea of Tranquility 40 years ago this July. We selected 'Tranquility' because it ties it to exploration and the moon, and symbolizes the spirit of international cooperation embodied by the space station."

Gerstenmaier added, "We don't typically name U.S. space station hardware after living people and this is no exception. However, NASA is naming its new space station treadmill the 'Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill,' or COLBERT. We have invited Stephen to Florida for the launch of COLBERT and to Houston to try out a version of the treadmill that astronauts train on."

Stephen Colbert seemed genuinely thrilled at the honor. And truth be told, he's been a pretty faithful supporter of NASA throughout the history of his show.

If NASA knew what it was doing, they'd sell that COLBERT patch. I guarantee they'd make enough to cover the COLBERT and then some.

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