Tonight: Will NASA Discover A Sense Of Humor?
Tonight's the night!
On tonight's Colbert Report, the nation will learn whether NASA has a sense of humor or not.
They famously had a contest to name the new node on the space station; they didn't take any of our suggestions. But Colbert's fans put him over the top through write-in votes, and the space agency will declare tonight just what the name will be.
Of course, some are outraged. There was this painfully earnest op-ed in the Chron.
But NASA has not always been so dreadfully serious about naming their craft. In the days when astronaut crews got to pick their own names, they were some outliers.
Among the craft that either landed on the moon or circled it are Gumdrop, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Casper and, in the age of Hair, Aquarius.
As laid out by former astronaut Bill Pogue, NASA really only cracked down once.
That was after Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule (Liberty Bell 7) sank after splashdown (Divers had to forget about the capsule in order to save a drowning Grissom, who was weighed down by a hoard of commemorative coins he had carried into space to later sell, according to Tom Wolfe).
On Grissom's next flight, he wanted to name his capsule Molly Brown, after the Broadway muscial The Unsinkable Molly Brown. NASA balked, eventually let him, but then started riding herd a bit on names.
Not so much that they stopped Snoopy, though.
So naming a node Colbert wouldn't really be a horrible departure from the noble, understated tradition of classic NASA names.
It might actually make some people give a shit about space, actually.