With enough “political clout” to affect the outcome of a recent NASA survey on what to name a new ISS module, does Stephen Colbert has a chance to be the first American comedian in space?
By: Ringo Bones
When it comes to underwriting worthy causes that he believes in, Stephen Colbert did recently manage to sponsor the US speed-skating team after their Dutch backer got broke. Although the most audacious show of how much political clout that he has happened much earlier back in April 2009 when his very popular voting campaign on his show –The Colbert Report – almost made NASA’s campaign to name a new International Space Station swing to his favor. And given his “power over NASA”, does Stephen Colbert have that proverbial “right stuff” to be the first American comedian in space?
Although after dubbing himself as the “first clown in space”, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy LaLiberté managed to make himself the first Canadian space tourist to have a “working vacation” in the International Space Station. After raising the 35 million US dollars or so space-fare for the Soyuz Launch Vehicle in the Baikonor Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. By planning it as a platform to raise awareness of the difficulty of having reliable safe drinking water by the world’s poor with the One Drop Foundation – all for water, water for all - Guy LaLiberté doesn’t want his first space vacation to be just a mere “ego trip”. LaLiberté also trains rigorously months before his launch so that he won’t be a burden to his fellow astronauts. He even managed to perform his signature Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics while weightless in the ISS. Luckily, someone of Guy LaLiberté’s stature was deemed too high brow to dub himself as the first comedian in space, so Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report still has a chance at the title.
Speaking of his powers over NASA, Stephen Colbert did manage to have certain vital equipment on the International Space Station named after him. Called the COLBERT which stands for Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, a namesake of The Colbert Report presenter Stephen Colbert. As everyone knows, exercise equipment such as the COLBERT is very important on the ISS because in weightless conditions, astronauts could easily suffer from osteoporosis due to calcium leaching out from their bones in an accelerated manner due to the weightless conditions of low-Earth-orbit.
But Mr. Colbert should decide soon if he wants to be the first American comedian in space because by 2010, the planned NASA space shuttle retirement will have NASA astronauts hogging the Baikonor Cosmodrome launch facilities to get to the International Space Station. So there will be no more space tourist even if they have their 35 million dollars until the time NASA finds a replacement for their about to be retired space shuttle fleet. This could be doubly bad for the space tourism industry and it might give Larry David or Jerry Seinfeld a chance to beat Stephen Colbert as the first American comedian in space.