Friday, July 08, 2011

Atlantis Lifts Off Into History

Anderson Cooper, Astronaut Cady Coleman and John Zarrella (Courtesy of CNN)

"Atlantis" and the crew of four are ready to make history minutes from now with the last liftoff of a U.S. space shuttle.

COOPER: Cady, for you, what this day like? I mean, you have spent an awful lot of time in space to know that this is the final flight?
CADY COLEMAN, ASTRONAUT: Well, every shuttle launch, every launch of a rocket that's got people on board. It's a big deal for people to leave the planet. So just in that, it is a big day for the launch of the space shuttle.

COOPER: And it seems so calm. The control room at CNN, right before the broadcast on CNN, is a nightmare. People are screaming and yelling. It seems very orderly

COLEMAN: It is like having a gorilla on the chest. Which I don't know really know what that feels like, but it is really just sort of smooshed in this area.
COOPER: I've had a gorilla charge me, and it's not pleasant. This sounds a little more interesting and pleasant.

COOPER: From the pictures I have seen, it looks like a nightmare to me. I mean, it looks like -- small and miserable. But you say it is amazing.
COLEMAN: You know, we're keeping it -- it is a carefully held secret. But really, the reality is that it is amazing.

COOPER: Yes, we actually left at 6:00 a.m. from the inn where we were staying, which is only five or six miles from here, because the traffic, and we knew the traffic would be thick and it was thick. It took us quite a while to get here. A lot of excitement here and people selling T-shirts on the side of the road. I am hoping that they are discounted on the way back. So, I'm going to wait. I think I'm very clever for doing that.

A Tense No Go Moment ~

COOPER: So, mission control saying no go?
And welcome back to the final mission of the space shuttle. Getting word that mission control is no-go. Again, this is going back and forth. We got a green that weather was fine, but at this point, mission control is saying no-go, but we will continue to follow this. The launch is scheduled for 11:26.

Hour Two ~

Atlantis and its crew of four are ready to make history minutes from now with the last liftoff of the U.S. space shuttle.

COOPER: 11:26, the time it is supposed to launch. Let's hope it does. What a moment that will be, the last time you will ever see the space shuttle launching from the United States anywhere. The last time the space shuttle will launch. The crew, the four, "The Final Four" they call themselves, is ready to go.

COOPER: And you think about all the people who have flown on board. There's 355 people that have flown 852 times, on 135 missions, going back since 1981. Sixteen countries, as you said, have been represented with astronauts and people on board this, 14 people, of course, have lost their lives in the two disasters. And, of course, on this day, we remember them all.

T minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 -- all three engines up and burning -- 2, 1, zero, and liftoff!
The final liftoff of Atlantis on the shoulders of the space shuttle. America will continue the dream.

COOPER: You guys have seen this a lot, this is the first time I have actually been here for it. It is completely different, it such a cool experience. The power of it, I mean, we are -- how many miles away are we?
ZARRELLA: About five miles.
COOPER: Five miles away. The sound is deafening.
COLEMAN: You feel it.
COOPER: Yes, you feel it like go through you, and the light is so bright from the boosters that you can barely look at it. I mean, it is such a searing, searing heat.

COOPER: Wow. Just so many extraordinary different emotions. I mean, to witness it in person, so much different than seeing it on TV. But we're glad that the launch happened and that folks around the world were able to watch it on our coverage. ...I sound like an idiot, because while Carol was talking to people, all I kept saying to you was like, wow. I mean, I still can't get over the power of that machine and the technology required to make this happen.

COOPER: You just heard him say, "a sentimental journey into history."

Thanks for sharing this moment in history with us ~

And a couple of behind the scenes photos from today ~

NBC2's Linsay Logue with CNN's Anderson Cooper at the shuttle launch.

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Anonymous said...

I was really impressed with Anderson's coverage of the Atlantis launch. At first I wasn't sure about him doing the coverage, but it was a really good match-up with Anderson, John Zarella and Cady Coleman. A nice blend of three perspectives; with a little humor injected for good fun. Brooke, Carol and Ed all added interesting information as well.

Great coverage of an historic event; and Anderson's reaction and description of the actual launch was fun for the non-space geek.

I've been to the Kennedy Space Center, saw a shuttle on the launch pad, and watched the launch poolside from our Orlando hotel. It was amazing from that distance, so I can only imagine being so close to the launch site. Luckily we had a sunny, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky day -- so you could really see it travel quite a distance.

Great job - Anderson and the whole CNN Team! Can we expect you to be wearing that shuttle launch t-shirt one of these days? Hope you got a good deal!

Anonymous said...

I know a lot of people wondered why they picked Anderson to cover the space coverage this morning and I think it was because he really wanted to be there since this was the last flight.

He did a great job with it and you could tell he was really impressed with it since it was his first time there. He asked some great questions and Mediate did an interview with John Zarrella and John said that it was a jaw dropping moment for Anderson. I think Anderson and John make a good team.

Thank you

aries moon said...

I was a little envious of AC and everyone who was able to see the final shuttle launch in person--it's pretty remarkable to watch on TV, but the magnitude of it has to be really amazing in person. Anderson's awe and enthusiasm was infectious and I really enjoyed listening to Cady Colemen--her insight and memories of her time on board was great to hear. So nice to see Anderson covering something other than politics and murder trials. Watching the shuttle launch is a majestic experience. Great coverage by CNN.

Anonymous said...

Miles O'Brien was sorely missed.
He had the expertise to describe in detail what happens at mission control and the technical aspects that go into this adventure.
Anderson is a field reporter and a good one, but he cannot substitute for someone who is an expert in the field.
This is part of CNN's problem.
They rely on one person to be the flagship for the entire station and in the end it will fail, it is in part, failing now.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 1:16 To take nothing away from Miles O'Brien - what I liked about today's coverage was that it wasn't all technical and for space geeks. This launch was more of an historical moment and I thought John and Cady provided good background information and some technical information was given by mission control; but I enjoyed the coverage because it was explained in layman's terms. I thought Cady was wonderfully descriptive, John added good factual information; and Anderson asked great questions and helped you feel like you were experiencing the launch for the first time along with him.

In my opinion - technical experts aren't always the best ones to reach a wide audience.

sydney said...

I really like that first behind the scenes photo. He really looks tickled to be there. And who can blame him?

judy said...

The NYTimes reported on the mission and quoted AC as saying that, and I'm paraphrasing: "The rocket was about to tear a hole in the sky."
Both John Zarrella and Miles O'Brien, who now is reporting for PBS,
said that NASA was never good at promoting the space program and the astronauts were over protected.
Miles O'Brien said it was hard to sell science to news organizations.
Possibly a reference to his sudden dismissal at CNN.
Anything on an intellectual scale was a hard sell for Jon Klein.
After all. He's the one who gave us Piers Morgan to relish.

Patty said...

I was there, standing right there watching the interview from the ground. :) But I am so sad that Anderson didn't come down to the NASATweetup tent to say hi to all of us!