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8/20/2009
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Shuttle To Carry 'Stephen Colbert' Into Space

Discovery's next mission payload includes exercise device named after comedian.

NASA's COLBERT Treadmill
(click image for larger view)
NASA's COLBERT Treadmill

The shuttle Discovery will carry Colbert into space next week—not the comedian Stephen, but an exercise cycle named after him.

The COLBERT treadmill is among the numerous pieces of equipment that will be on board Discovery when it lifts off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center Tuesday on a mission to resupply the International Space Station.

Discovery will carry to the ISS the Leonardo supply module, which features refrigerator-size storage racks.

STS-128, as the mission is called, will be commanded by veteran astronaut Rick "C.J." Sturckow. Joining him are six other space goers, including pilot Kevin Ford and mission specialists Patrick Forester, Jose Hernandez, Nicole Stott, and John Olivas. Christer Fuglesang will represent his native Sweden on the mission.

The crew arrived at Kennedy Wednesday for their final prelaunch preparations.

"It's great to be here for the launch," said Sturckow. "We've been studying and training hard, and we're ready to go accomplish this mission."

NASA officials anticipate a successful launch.

"I can't say enough about the quality of the review we had over the past day and a half," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations, at a news conference Wednesday. "It was a very effective review; I think we're ready to go fly," he said.

Gerstenmaier added that preparations were a group effort.

"It's a real tribute to be here with the team that's done a great job with engineering, the Kennedy team that's gotten us this far in the process," he said.

The shuttle is set to for a nighttime liftoff on Tuesday at 1:36 a.m.

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