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Late Night: Stephen Colbert goes nuts for NASA [Video]

August 17, 2011 |  8:18 am

Now that the U.S. space shuttle program has gone the way of all the earth, what, you may be wondering, will the astronauts who worked on it do with their lives?

They could launch second careers as straight men.

The crewmembers of the space shuttle Atlantis, Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus, who recently completed the agency's final shuttle mission, provided ample comedy fodder for Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" on Tuesday night, especially when they presented him with a special memento from Atlantis' last flight: one of eight "very large nuts" that held the shuttle in place on the launch pad until it was split open to release the spacecraft at blast off.

"As if launching a rocket were not phallic enough," Colbert quipped, manhandling the hefty hunk of metal, "you literally bust a nut when you go into space."

And speaking of very large nuts, Colbert also offered a warning to countries like India and China who may ramp up their lunar exploration efforts now that the U.S. manned space program is pulling back -- "I say, back off, other countries. That is our moon. We licked it" -- as well as a zero-gravity, Tang-in-cheek look back at some of NASA's greatest moments.

What a blast.

-- Amy Reiter