He may have lost a character and gained a show, and I may have taken a seven-month break, but one thing hasn’t changed: I still watch Stephen Colbert on the nightly. And that means you can continue to count on regular commentary for some time to come.
Friday night, Stephen’s guest was Scott Kelly — and Colbert lobbed him a softcomet: “This is hardly your first mission to the International Space Station. You were on the ’99 mission that fixed the Hubble telescope, a second mission in 2007 that added new equipment to the station, and on your third mission, in 2010, you spent 159 days in space. How long are you up this time?”
Something that big and slow should be a cinch to hit in zero G — even with the degraded bone structure that comes with the territory. Still, Kelly managed to whiff: “This time it’s gonna be close to a year, not exactly a year. We launched on March 28, and we’re gonna land on March 2, so — I haven’t done the math, I’m trying not to keep track of the days, but — it’s about 340, I think.”
Close enough, but who’s counting? Well, Kelly, for one.
As it happens, his math is more or less on the nose (depending on whether or not you include the end date). That precision alone should be more than enough to cast doubt on Kelly’s claim that he’s “trying not to keep track of the days.” But even worse, anyone who follows Commander Kelly on Twitter — and even some who don’t, like me — knows full well that he has been assiduously doing precisely that day in and day out. Here’s a brief excerpt of the damning evidence:
And in case that wasn’t enough, there’s also this:
Admittedly, Kelly does miss a day from time to time — as just promised, he did not mark Day 100 on the way up. Still, that level of dedication and consistency is hardly the mark of a man “trying not to keep track of the days.”
Perhaps as a self-fulfilling prophecy, or maybe because he realized he was in danger of losing all credibility, Kelly went ahead and done did his first major goof soon after the events that transpired above. On January 17 and 18 — the two days right after his interview with Colbert hit the Youtube — he posted the following series:
In case you need things
spelled counted out, that’s Day 296 (Jan. 17) followed immediately by… Day 296 (Jan. 18). I scrolled all the way back through Kelly’s timeline — a good use of time, I assure you — and this appears to be the very first time he’s doubled up since the daily countup began back on Day 82.
While this is certainly a failed effort at day-tracking, I would argue the slipup is more of job done poorly than of an astronaut genuinely “trying not to keep track of the days.” Looks more like trying… and falling back to Earth.
Hopefully Scott’s identical twin brother Mark (pictured at top alongside astronaut-in-training Stephen Colbert) is a little more honest in his mathematical endeavors. Incidentally, Mark Kelly was the commander of Space Shuttle, yes, Endeavor on its final mission.