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CNN Today

Endeavour Set for Launch to International Space Station

Aired November 30, 2000 - 2:42 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: International attention is focused on tonight's scheduled launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. On that mission, Nasa Commander Bill Shepherd and his Russian crew will install two huge solar panels on the International Space Station.

A damaged bracket could delay Endeavour's launch. NASA officials are reportedly delaying fueling the shuttle while technicians replace the two-inch bent bracket.

For more on this, we can hear from Miles O'Brien, who is at Kennedy Space Center.

What is up with this hitch here, Miles?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, the news flash is that crack team here at the Kennedy Space Center has fixed that bracket problem. The bracket was Holding down a piece of conduit, which carried some cable along the, well, shuttleway, if you will. It is the gangway that led from the gantry into the shuttle. It is what the astronauts walk into as they enter the hatch of the space shuttle.

The got on a 150-foot crane, as can you see here, a couple of the worker here went up there, and removed what was a lose bracket. NASA was concerned that loose bracket might, you know, spring loose during the launch and cause some damage to the Orbiter. The bracket is off and the fueling of the space shuttle is set to begin at 3:15 Eastern time, a little bit late, but we are told plenty of time to get the half-million gallons of hydrogen and oxygen in there and launch tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And as we mentioned, the shuttle will carry and install two huge solar panels on the International Space Station, so huge you tell us that we can see the space station now from Earth.

O'BRIEN: Yes, assuming all goes well, and they are unfurled, they will have a wing span of a triple-7 jet, about 239 feet. And if you look in the right place at the right time, it is going to be a very, very bright, fast-moving object across the sky.

As a matter of fact, NASA tells us it is third brightest object in the sky, and I am not going to quiz you, Natalie, and ask you what the first two are. I guess you guess the moon, I didn't the second one, it's the star Sirius. ALLEN: I knew that.

O'BRIEN: You did know that?

ALLEN: I did not know that.

O'BRIEN: I should tell you I'm serious when I tell you that.

ALLEN: OK, Miles, that's funny.

Well, how are thing going there up on the space station and the new occupants, how are they doing?

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, it's tough up there, quite frankly. They have been up there almost 30 days right now, and it's a shake down cruise. Imagine, you know, any time you move into a new house, that is hard enough, imagine trying to move things in, and when you set something down, it floats away, and you didn't even put the stuff in there in the first place, so in a lot of cases you don't know where things are.

The crew, on occasion, has been a bit exasperated with the task at hand, thing have broken, things have been lost. But nevertheless, they are holding out well. I should point out who they are, it is NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd is the commander; Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalyov Russia cosmonauts, the crew members.

They are busy up there, and so far by all accounts they are doing OK.

ALLEN: And we hear that the shuttle crew will arrive bearing holiday gifts. So perhaps that will cheer them up as well.

O'BRIEN: Holiday gifts, we were told, but they will not tell us what they are. They are afraid that the word would filter back into space and spoil the surprise.

ALLEN: We wouldn't want to do that. The media, no! OK, Miles, thanks so much. We will hear from you again as the clock ticks down.

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