The Colbert Crisis, Day 5: NASA Should Heed the Voice of the People

Lloyd Garver: Should NASA stick with the ‘Colbert’ name?

I guarantee if “Colbert” wins, Colbert will spend even more time publicizing NASA and space exploration on television. More people will get interested, and that was the original idea of the contest. And it usually doesn’t hurt if a governmental agency demonstrates a sense of humor.

I know the dangers of going along with this joke. It’s a very slippery slope. Other TV shows will probably to want to get their names in space. Some agent is bound to think that “Dancing with The Stars” is a natural. Other shows are going to want to have their names up there, too. Will the next space shuttle be called “Late Show With David Letterman?” Will the next galaxy astronomers discover be called “America’s Biggest Loser?”

When it comes to naming things and publicity, money always seems to enter the picture. Therefore, I have to admit that I worry a little that the heavens might suffer the same fate as that of so many sports venues. If there can be a “Petco Park,” a “U.S. Cellular Field” and a “Staples Center,” isn’t it just possible that astronomers might change the planets’ names, too? And if so, are we really going to be happy when our children’s children learn that “Alpo” is the fourth planet from the sun, and the one with the two big moons is called “Hooters”?

Despite these caveats, I still think NASA should go along with the popular vote. They should be able to draw the line and avoid catastrophic commercial consequences. And if they are worried about making the seemingly smug Stephen Colbert even smugger, the joke might actually be on him. One of the functions of the soon-to-be-named part of the space station will be to house a machine that turns astronauts’ urine into drinking water. Would you really like to have that room named after you?

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