John McCaslin

Amid concern that younger generations are getting the "news" from cable TV comedy shows, NASA has chosen Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" to announce tonight the name of the space agency's newest module for the International Space Station that will provide room for many of the space station's life support systems.

The name, which NASA says will not be publicly released until after the program airs early this week, was selected from thousands of suggestions submitted by the public on NASA's Internet site. That said, comedian and host Stephen Colbert took interest in the census and urged his followers to post the name "Colbert."

"I certainly hope NASA does the right thing," said Mr. Colbert. "Just kidding, I hope they name it after me."

Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said the poll "took on a life of its own."

"We received more than a million entries, in large part because social media web sites and television programs, such as the Colbert Report, took an interest. This spread overall awareness of the International Space Station."

NASA astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams was to appear on the Colbert Report to help make the announcement.


The X-Conference, the annual gathering addressing the politics and implications of the UFO/ET issue [-] as in extraterrestrial life and the crafts they fly [-] kicks off in and around Washington on Friday.

"The movement seeks the formal acknowledgement by world governments of an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race," according to organizers.

Among the 2009 speakers: Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who in 1971 became the sixth man to walk on the moon, although the astronaut says the most extraordinary moment of the mission was experienced during his return to earth.

Here's one description of that moment culled from Mr. Mitchell's speaker's bio: "As he hurtled earthward through the abyss between the two worlds, Mitchell became engulfed by a profound sensation [-] 'a sense of universal connectedness.' He intuitively sensed that his presence, that of his fellow astronauts, and that of the planet in the window were all part of a deliberate, universal process and that the glittering cosmos itself was in some way conscious. The experience was so overwhelming Mitchell knew his life would never be the same."

Or as the MIT and Carnegie Mellon University-educated astronaut put it: “We went to the moon as technicians, we returned humanitarians.”


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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