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Rendezvous in Space: Crew to Install $1.4 Billion Destiny Module

Aired February 9, 2001 - 1:52 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: We're going to now head up to space: another live event happening. The shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station are about to open their hatches. Why not go O.J., president, space shuttle -- Miles.

(CROSSTALK)

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: It's live television at its best, isn't it? And when in doubt, turn to space. All right?

ALLEN: Yes. Take it away, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's go up to space, shall we? And we had a good day in space, I am happy to report. The space shuttle Atlantis, having left the Kennedy Space Center on beautiful day on Wednesday, made its way to the International Space Station a little bit before noon Eastern Time -- the commander, Ken Cockrell, very deftly bringing his orbiter towards the International Space Station.

Check it out. There is Atlantis. Where are you, you ask? Well, this is a camera on board of the International Space Station. Commander Bill Shepherd -- who is quite a videophile -- had his little D.V. cam out and was able to capture some great shots as the vehicles approached each other. There you see the crew compartment of the space shuttle Atlantis. And there you can just see a little bit of some very precious cargo.

This is the $1.4 billion delivery that they are making: the Destiny scientific laboratory, which will be the heart and soul of the International Space Station throughout its lifetime over the next 15 years. Take a look at the docking. This is how it happens. That is the docking ring inside the payload bay of the shuttle. This is the space station up there. And the rings met. The seals were good.

And, in very short order, those hatches should be opened. And the crew aboard the International Space Station, now having logged about 100 days in space, will get a chance to see some fresh faces. I imagine they are looking forward to that. You saw some pictures there of the so-called space station stack with the huge solar arrays there. Now, tomorrow is the main event that -- you see -- here are the arrays there. These are 300 feet in length.

And you are looking up from the space station at the space shuttle stack. There is the TV antenna, in case you're wondering about that -- no cable in space. In any case...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Hard to believe.

ALLEN: Really.

O'BRIEN: But, in any case, tomorrow is the main event. That is when Marsha Ivans, one of the payload -- or excuse me, mission specialists -- will take the 50-foot robotic arm. If you take a live picture, there it that robotic arm at the ready. And this is the payload. It says lab right there. So pluck it from the payload bay. Put it on its spot at the International Space Station. Two space- walkers will be out there to watch and give her some come-on-backs and...

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: And make sure that this blind maneuver goes without a hitch -- exactly, one of those deals. You know, they probably could get some training down there at Hartsfield Airport for this kind of thing.

ALLEN: And bringing it on in.

O'BRIEN: But this is exactly what will happen tomorrow. And we'll be watching that as well.

ALLEN: And, of course, here on Earth, it looks so serene, peaceful and easy, like they are just barely moving up there. It's hard to comprehend the magnitude of the task.

O'BRIEN: It's worth reminding of the speed. It's 17,500 miles- an-hour. But the relative closure rate was about a tenth-of-a-foot- per-second.

ALLEN: OK.

O'BRIEN: Got it?

ALLEN: Hey, just like the guys down at Delta.

O'BRIEN: Bring it on in.

ALLEN: Bring it on in. Come on back.

Miles, thank you.

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