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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Space Station Preparing for New Soyuz Capsule

Aired October 19, 2001 - 06:52   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take a big left turn here. Actually, a turn up, if you will. We're going to change gears. We've been covering the war coverage all morning, but now we've got something else we want to talk about that's underway even as we speak.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: You've been anchoring, doing your military duties and your space duties all at once. How do you manage that?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Multitask is here. Good morning to you. Good morning to you.

Let's go to space quickly before the picture gets bad. There's a picture beneath that banner there where it says switch. There we go, there's a better shot. A lot of pictures from the International Space Station as it circles overhead 250 miles above us about 17,500 miles an hour, which is the speed limit, I should tell you, in low Earth orbit.

And right now what's going on is the three-person crew of that space station, the commander is Frank Culbertson, a NASA astronaut, two Russian cosmonauts his crewmates, are doing a, well, space basket turnover, if you will. They're undocking the Soyuz capsule which serves as their lifeboat, if you will, and moving it around to another docking port to make way for the new Soyuz which will be coming up in a couple of weeks. The Soyuz are kind of leapfrogged up there in order to always allow a speedy access to Earth, but they have a shelf life and so you have to get a new one up there every six months or so.

So what they do is when it comes time -- when it comes close for those Soyuz -- the fresh Soyuz to come up, they take the old Soyuz and put it on another docking port so that when the new Soyuz comes up it'll be there in the good lifeboat spot.

Now what happens is you don't just put one astronaut or cosmonaut in a Soyuz to do this because what happens if you get out there and you can't re-dock? So literally they assume that they're leaving the space station, shut everything down, turn off the lights, make sure that the food is all taken care of because you don't want spoiled food floating around and they get ready for the possibility of returning to Earth. And then hopefully everything will go well, they'll re-dock and just go right back in.

HARRIS: Well how often do they go through this? O'BRIEN: This happens every six months.

HARRIS: Six months.

O'BRIEN: They go through this little fruit basket turnover, if you will.

Right now we're not getting a very good shot of it. They have undocked the Soyuz and eventually, end of this picture you will see the Soyuz come back in and re-dock on this shot, but right at the moment we're not seeing it.

I don't know where they're passing over but it's a dramatic -- it looks like a little bit of desert somewhere.

HARRIS: Let me ask you -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

PHILLIPS: Well, I was just curious, Culbertson and his crewmates are staying on top of this war on terrorism also, right?

O'BRIEN: Right.

PHILLIPS: They've made statements and...

O'BRIEN: Yes, you know they had -- it's was really kind of a dramatic statement just a couple of days after the event. You know they talked about seeing the smoke...

HARRIS: That's what I was going to ask you,...

O'BRIEN: ... coming from lower Manhattan.

HARRIS: ... (INAUDIBLE) seen any of that.

O'BRIEN: Yes, and they've watched it really kind of unfold, and they saw it, of course, almost, you know, immediately. Then their first pass overhead, this dramatic image of the smoke streaming out of lower Manhattan and...

HARRIS: How about Afghanistan, have they said anything about that?

O'BRIEN: Well they haven't said much about that. I don't know that there's much to see, you know, from their vantage point necessarily, and maybe they don't want to tell us what they're seeing, who knows.

HARRIS: Yes, could be.

All right, good deal. Thanks, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right.

HARRIS: Miles O'Brien wearing one of his many hats here this morning. It's good to see you, Buddy.

O'BRIEN: Good to be here.

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