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CNN Today

Shuttle Mission Delayed

Aired January 31, 2000 - 1:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Cloudy conditions over Florida and a computer glitch are causing delays for today's scheduled launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.

CNN's Miles O'Brien joins us from Kennedy Space Center with the latest -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Natalie, NASA not having a very good day here at the Kennedy Space Center. The weather remains very gloomy.

It's now about 20 minutes since their so-called "launch window" opened up. That's the two-hour time frame in which this mission of Endeavour, the 14th of Endeavour, the 97th of shuttle program, has an opportunity to launch.

Let's take a look at a live picture. There you see the nose area of the space shuttle Endeavour. The six-member crew is in, strapped on board, the commander, Kevin Kregel, at the controls.

They are set to embark on an 11-day mission, which takes cartography to incredible heights. There you see them at that 195- foot level above the pad. They're getting in and then being strapped in. This shot taken from the instrument panel, the space shuttle Endeavour.

But so far, the weather is offering no optimism for NASA launch controllers here. The heavy rain, the thick clouds, all of them so- called "constraints to launch," meaning the shuttle cannot launch through them.

Once they get on orbit, though, however, they'll be in a 145-mile orbit, I should say, for about 11 days.

They'll extend to a 200-foot boom off the side of the payload, the space shuttle Endeavour; and they will conduct a comprehensive radar, 3-D map of the world. About 70 percent of the Earth's surface will be mapped by the space shuttle Endeavour, as they travel around the Earth over the course of this mission.

Now, they're currently working, also a technical problem, Natalie. There's a computer system called the Master Events Controller; and you don't have to be a space wonk to understand that a Master Events Controller is probably an important thing. There are two of them on the space shuttle Endeavour. One of them is not working. You can't fly without both of them.

It controls important things, like the separation of the solid rocket boosters, and that big, orange external tank. And they're not going not going to fly unless they get that fixed either -- Natalie.

ALLEN: So, Miles, it doesn't sound like they're going to be taking advantage of this two-hour window today.

O'BRIEN: I don't think so. I think we're going to sit here in the rain and watch the shuttle. And I have a feeling these astronauts will be spending another night in the Cape, as opposed to a night floating on orbit.

ALLEN: Also looks a little nippy down there in Florida. All right.

O'BRIEN: It is.

ALLEN: Miles O'Brien at Kennedy Space Center. We'll be in contact, just in case.

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