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CNN Today

First Crew of International Space Station Begins Crucial Operations

Aired November 2, 2000 - 1:18 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Their quarters are cramped, their bathroom facilities aren't even working yet, but an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts are spending their first full day in one of the hottest properties in the universe. They arrived at the International Space Station early today; they may want to get to work immediately on that bathroom deal.

Our space correspondent Miles O'Brien tells us about the mission and the enormous milestone it represents.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the threshold of a new era in space, the first crew of the International Space Station arrived at their new home for the next four months; their Soyuz capsule automatically homing in and latching firm after a high-flying, five-mile-a-second chase that began at the Baikonur Cosmodrome two days before.

DAN GOLDIN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: As I was watching the docking occur I said Russia or the United States couldn't have done this separately. We depended on each other.

O'BRIEN: Before he left, station commander, NASA's Bill Shepherd, announced he would allow his Russian crewmate Yuri Gidzenko to float over the threshold first.

BILL SHEPHERD, MISSION COMMANDER: I think a good leader sometimes has to be a good follower. We're a team on orbit, everybody understands that.

O'BRIEN: Shepherd and NASA are clearly eager to tap into the Russian experience with the pitfalls of long stays in space.

GOLDIN: We're going to have to deal with sleep disorders and cranky people and communications and difficulty. I think it's going to get tougher; but isn't this sweet?

O'BRIEN: Sweet success for the first crew will not come easy. They have trained for a long list of chores: activating computers, life-support systems and the toilet, and repairing some failed Russian batteries. Three unmanned cargo ships and three shuttles will come calling, carrying supplies and some big pieces of the station. The overall goal:

SHEPHERD: Leaving the second crew a fully functional space station, having completed the assembly of the components that are brought to us; and, basically, turn over a good ship to those that will follow behind.

O'BRIEN: Now that they have arrived, the hard work of making their place in space ship-shape begins.

Miles O'Brien, CNN, Korolyov, Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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