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Special Event

Space Shuttle Endeavor Takes off From Kennedy Space Center

Aired November 30, 2000 - 10:04 p.m. ET

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

JEFF, GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Now we're going to take a short break in our coverage of the Florida vote and switch to another story from the Sunshine, the space shuttle. We're just moments away from the launch of the shuttle Endeavor.

CNN's space correspondent Miles O'Brien joins us live from the Kennedy Space Center --Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Jeff, it wasn't too long that NASA took a poll of its own. No demands for a recount. They are go for launch, here. The Space Shuttle Endeavor poised in minute and 30 second away from its 15th flight -- the sixth shuttle flight to the international space station.

I'm joined by Colonel Bob Cabana, a NASA astronaut -- the man who flew the first shuttle mission to the space station. Thanks for being with us. Take us on board. What's going on right now.

COL. ROBERT CABANA, NASA ASTRONAUT: Miles, here, they've just closed their visors. They've turned on their suit O2 and they're waiting to get down here to 30 seconds and get the onboard computers controlling, watch those main engines light and monitor the gauges as they roar off into orbit.

O'BRIEN: And briefly, this mission is about bringing electric power to this nation's space station. Tell us briefly.

CABANA: The space station spreads its wings -- 62 kilowatts of power; 240-foot long solar wings, the largest ever flown. Bigger than the wingspan of a 747.

O'BRIEN: All right, 50 seconds and counting. Right now, we're about to go over to automatic computer control of the count. At that point, the computer could shut down the count if something is wrong, right?

CABANA: Absolutely. The computers onboard control. We get the three engine started, 1/3 of a million pounds of thrust in each one. Six seconds prior to lift off. Once all three are up and running smoothly, we're on the auto sequence.

O'BRIEN: All right, let's listen to NASA's Bruce Buckingham followed by Rob Navias as the launch of Endeavor is upon us -- less than 20 seconds away. BRUCE BUCKINGHAM, NASA: T-Minus 15 seconds, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, -- we have a go. The engines are started. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. We have booster ignition and lift of the Space Shuttle Endeavor providing power to the station as we continue to build a future in space.

ROB NAVIAS, NASA: Houston now controlling the flight of Endeavor. Endeavor completing the roll. The shuttle now at a heads down, wing-level position for the 8 1/2 minute ride to orbit. Twenty- five seconds into the flight Endeavor's three liquid fuel main engines beginning to throttle back in a three-step fashion to 72 percent of rated of performance. That will reduce the stress on the shuttle as it breaks through the sound barrier.

Endeavor already 1 1/2 miles down range from the Kennedy Space Center. All systems reported to be in great shape. Fifty-two seconds into the flight, the main engines beginning to rev up to full throttle, 104 percent of rated performance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Endeavor, go at throttle up.

NAVAIS: The throttle up call from spacecraft communicator Gus Lauria (ph). On board Endeavor Commander Brent Jett joined on the flight deck by pilot Mike Bloomfield, flight engineer Marc Garneau, the Canadian Space Agency and mission specialist Joe Tanner. Seated alone down in the mid-deck mission specialist Carlos Noriega.

One minute, 36 seconds into the flight. Endeavor 18 miles in altitude, 15 miles downrange. Three good fuel cells, three good auxiliary power units. This view from long range tracking cameras north of the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center. Standing by for solid rocket booster separation coming up in about eight seconds.

O'BRIEN: Bob Cabana, that's a moment that anyone who is involved with the space program watches with some anticipation -- those solid rocket boosters separating from the shuttle. That's a critical moment, isn't it?

CABANA: Miles, that's always a good feeling to get off those solids. Now it's just three main engines powering you uphill. It's smooth ride. Awesome. Unbelievable.

O'BRIEN: You know, I couldn't help but notice you teared up a little bit there. It's an emotional moment.

CABANA: You cannot help but have pride in what we do as a nation when you see a space shuttle take off and seeing your friends up there -- I've seen a bunch of them and I can't help it.

O'BRIEN: All right, we're now two minutes and 44 seconds into this flight. Let's take a look back at the launch just few moments ago and give our viewers one more opportunity to see the launch of Endeavor in its 15th flight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKINGHAM: Booster ignition and lift off at the Space Shuttle Endeavor, providing power to the station as we continue to build our future in space.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Colonel Cabana, what's the crew feeling right there. That's a very rough ride, isn't it?

CABANA: All those pops and crackles you hear, you can hear those in the cockpit. You're being pushed back in your seat. Everything's shaking and vibrating and you're trying to read the gauges. It's just an awesome sense of acceleration and speed. You can hear it as you accelerate through the atmosphere.

O'BRIEN: What's a ride. The space shuttle Endeavor, on its way to orbit. It's an eight minute -- eight and a half minute ride to orbit. We'll be watching it the next five minutes as it continues its main engine ride into space. Ultimately on to a 10-day mission to the International Space Station, bringing huge, huge solar arrays to power it for the next 15 years. The beginning of scientific of this the International Space Station Alpha.

Miles O'Brien, CNN, reporting live from the Kennedy Space Center -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Thank you, Miles. You'll note that Endeavor was launched in Florida but was being controlled in Texas. Perhaps there's political message there.

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