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Ferris moms son helps build COLBERT treadmill

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FERRIS – Mothers like to brag on their children’s accomplishments, but Tracy Chesney of Ferris can honestly say her son’s work is out of this world.

David Chesney of Houston was one of three electrical engineers who helped build a treadmill for astronauts. So, when NASA launched Space Shuttle Discovery early Tuesday morning, he watched his pride and joy, a treadmill, fly into outer space.

He never thought his two-year project would be named after a comedian.

In April, NASA held a contest as to what to name the space module. Comedian Steven Colbert, from "The Colbert Report" got the most votes, and Colbert supposedly argued that he won the contest, so the module should be named after him.

NASA never names modules after people, but the company compromised and named the treadmill after Colbert. The module was named "Tranquility" after the Apollo 11 moon base.

"There were a lot of supplies going up in the ship to the International Space Station. Out of all the things on the space shuttle, the treadmill was chosen to be named after a comedian. I thought it was funny," Chesney said.

C.O.L.B.E.R.T. stands for Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill. "They had to give the initials a name, and I guess that makes sense." Chesney said.

According to several associated press stories, NASA had a set number of patches, with Colbert’s face and initials, made in April. Patches were quickly sold out at NASA stores and on their Web site. NASA didn’t make any more patches after Colbert said they were infringing upon his rights.

Chesney, who received a V.I.P. seat to watch the launch, also worked for Mission Control in 2006

when his Sunday school teacher was the ship’s commander. He got to ride in the zero gravity plane, the "vomit comet" when the treadmill was being tested.

"Whoever thought a comedian would have anything to do with astronauts staying fit in space," Chesney said. "Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into a clothes hanger."

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Nelson Propane

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