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Atlas Rocket Launched Carrying TDRS SatelliteAired June 30, 2000 - 8:55 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: As promised, we are seconds away from the scheduled launch of that Atlas rocket. Miles O'Brien checking in on that one.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: We are seven seconds away, Let's watch it, and we will talk about it as it goes on up.
NASA MISSION CONTROL: 4, 3, 2, 1. We have an ignition and lift off of NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, assuring a new generation of space communications.
Pitch and role programs are being activated, everything continues to look good, as the Atlas vehicle climbs away from Earth with the TDRS payload onboard.
O'BRIEN: All right, let's explain a few things. First of all, that's the voice of Bruce Buckingham (ph), who is a NASA public affairs officer.
You are looking at live pictures from the Cape Canaveral Air Station. The TDRS satellite, as he calls it, is short for the Tracking and Data Relay Systems Satellite. It is essentially a switchboard for space shuttles and the International Space Station ultimately, and the Hubbell space telescope, allowing them to send pictures and radio transmissions back to Earth without requiring a series of ground stations.
This is the 7th TDRS satellite in the network. The six previous ones were launched by space shuttles. This is the first time it has been launched on an unmanned rocket. The shuttles are kind of booked up with their efforts to build the International Space Station.
Incidentally, a little footnote in history. There was a TDRS satellite on the ill-fated flight of Challenger, January of 1986.
HARRIS: Is it trickier, somehow, some way, to do it with an unmanned rocket, versus doing it with a shuttle.
O'BRIEN: No, I think what this is proving is that, in many ways, the shuttle program was kind of looking for a mission, in the sense that they were trying to deliver satellites. NASA has basically decided that it is not worth the risk of lives and the tremendous cost of a shuttle mission to launch something like this. It can be done automatically. HARRIS: I was going to guess this would be cheaper than a shuttle mission.
O'BRIEN: Yes, absolutely.
HARRIS: All right, Miles O'Brien, science correspondent, thanks you very much. Of course, you know all that stuff.
O'BRIEN: My pleasure.
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