The space shuttle Endeavour had a gorgeous launch at 4:14 a.m. ET this morning from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The news footage after the jump is nice, but the crowd reactions captioned in the amateur video below fill you with the sort of awe James Cameron wrote about in his recent Washington Post op-ed piece supporting President Obama’s NASA budget, the sort of pride you feel every time you catch the end of Apollo 13 on cable. Endeavour’s 13-day mission will install the Tranquility node and its seven-window cupola permanently to the International Space Station. According to NASA, the Tranquility node will now house one of the station’s bathrooms and the equipment that converts urine into drinkable water, as well as its microgravity equivalent of a weight machine and the COLBERT (Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill).
You might recall that Colbert Nation, fans of Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report, mounted a write-in campaign for the 2009 NASA poll asking what Node 3 should be named. Though “Colbert” won the poll (in which more than 1 million votes were cast) by a landslide, NASA opted to christen it Tranquility (the eighth most popular write-in). NASA did, however, offer the treadmill title as a compromise. We suspect Stephen Colbert will enjoy knowing that his namesake shares the node with that “toilet-to-tap” system.