Madison space company helps build Colbert Treadmill - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison space company helps build Colbert Treadmill


MADISON (WKOW) -- Soon, you'll find the name COLBERT at The International Space Station.

The Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, named after Comedy Central Comedian Stephen Colbert will soon be part of NASA's new module, Tranquility.

Which is exciting news to Madison based Orbitec.

"We are now building the 3D training system for the COLBERT," says Orbitec's Abe Megahed.

It works like an interactive instruction manual.

"We are doing an entire simulation on how to put this together," says Orbitec's Marty Gustafson.

"So if it says screw that part into that part, you can see it and move it around," Megahed says.

There are nearly 800 parts to the COLBERT. Orbitec officials say the simulation allows astronauts to get it right the first time.

"The whole process is going to take two astronauts 18 hours to build this," says Gustafson.

The treadmill and Orbitec's 3D simulation program will be placed inside the new Tranquility module set to take off in August.

The module will be attached to the International Space Station.

The COLBERT will be a vital tool for astronauts at the space station.

"The astronauts need to exercise on it 3 hours a day or they lose the bone and muscle mass," Megahed says.

Besides the 3D simulators, Orbitec has created equipment that has gone up in space including a biomass production system which was taken up to the International Space Station in 2002 and grew plants there.

Still, Orbitec employees admit having Colbert's name attached to their latest project is out of this world.

"It's much better than T2. I always think of Arnold Schwarzenegger when I hear that so it's a lot better to have a fun name like Colbert," Gustafson says.

T2 is what the treadmill used to be named.

The parts for the COLBERT are being made by another NASA contracted company based in Houston, Texas.

Orbitec plans to have the 3D simulation program completed by June 1st and they promise if they see Stephen Colbert when they drop it off to NASA, they'll give him his very own copy of the program.

NASA held a contest on their website for the name of it's new space module. Colbert received the most votes, but NASA reserves the right to pick the name.

Orbitec has been creating simulations like The COLBERT for NASA since 2001.

They've done about six of them so far.

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