Space Shuttle Endeavour Launches Into 11-Day Mission to Map EarthAired February 11, 2000 - 12:42 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm going to toss it over to Miles O'Brien at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Miles, what's the latest on the launch.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Jeanne, not much time to talk. We'll just listen in to NASA. About 30 seconds to the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. Six-person crew aboard, a $600 million ambitious radar mapping mission.
Let's listen in to NASA commentator Joel Wells (ph) and the radio communications between the crew and the ground controllers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twelve, eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven -- we have a go for ignition -- four, three, two, one, booster ignition, and liftoff of space shuttle Endeavour on a 21st century mission placing Earth back on the map.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, roll, Endeavour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're rolling on a course northeast away from the Kennedy Space Center. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it will take it above 95 percent of the world's population during its mission. Endeavour's speed already 300 miles per hour, altitude one mile.
Three engines on Endeavour now throttling back to two-thirds throttle as they prepare to go through the Earth's (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
O'BRIEN: (OFF MIKE) NASA's mission control in Houston. As you look at a closeup shot, the twin solid rocket boosters doing most of the work right now, about 80 percent of the thrust.
The famous throttle-up call indicating a portion of time after which the space shuttle increases its throttles after the atmosphere has thinned out somewhat and the weight of the space shuttle has decreased. The throttles are purposely throttled back, and they are accelerated to 104 percent of their capability. Now a minute and 37 seconds into this flight, the solid rocket boosters still attached. The six-person crew aboard right now getting a very, very rough ride, feeling the effects of increasing G loads, which is the pressure of gravity against their bodies.
And there you see the solid rocket boosters' separation, critical moment in the ascent of a space shuttle into orbit, about two minutes after the launch, as expected. It takes about eight-and-a-half minutes for the space shuttle to attain orbit, right now riding on the main engines, that solid -- excuse me, the external tank still attached.
So far exactly what NASA would have hoped for on a picture- perfect day here at the Kennedy Space Center, thus beginning an 11-day shuttle radar topography mission, the crew attempting to map about 70 percent of the Earth's surface with a special radar device which will provide three-dimensional maps for the military and for scientists.
Now indicated, when they say two-engine tal (ph) indicating transatlantic abort scenarios, telling the crew as they go higher, and if the shuttle continues to perform as expected, they have additional options available to them in the way of aborts. But so far, nothing to indicate they would need to abort in any way. So far, things operating as exactly as NASA would hope it.
Once again, an 11-day mission. We will be following it all throughout as always. The six-person crew conducting an ambitious effort to map most of the world in all of 10 days time.
Miles O'Brien, CNN, reporting live from the Kennedy Space Center -- Jeanne.
MESERVE: Thank you, Miles.
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