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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Astronauts to Repair Hubble

Aired March 3, 2002 - 10:22   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.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right then, Kyra Phillips ...

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, oh.

O'BRIEN: ... has been enjoying the space shuttle this time. I just want to say that. That's almost ...

(CROSSTALK)

PHILLIPS: ... it's much easier for people like me who don't know a lot about space except that sometimes I feel like I'm out in space, so this helps me, your little toys, to explain this whole connection.

O'BRIEN: All right, let me -- let me explain. This is the configuration right now, as a matter of fact, as you see it right here. The Hubble, though the solar rays are probably not looking quite like that, is sitting in the aft section of Columbia's cargo bay and basically what's going to happen here, I know we've got that banner below there and I want to make sure you can see all this, the astronauts who are up in the crew compartment will step out five times, two pairs of them, and one of them will be pretty much attached to this robotic arm, the other one will be a free floater, and they're going to do a whole series of fixes to it including putting in a new -- some new equipment, changing out those solar rays, changing out the power control unit, which means turning off the Hubble for the first time.

Let's take a look at some images, which came down from space, gees just about six hours ago now. First of all, welcome to flight deck of the space shuttle Columbia. Let me introduce you to our group here -- Scott "Scooter" Altman, the commander; over here is his pilot, "Digger" Carey, once again I've been trying to tell folks they won't tell me how they got their handles. Yes, you know what, when you meet them Kyra, I bet you can get it out of them.

PHILLIPS: I bet (UNINTELLIGIBLE) out of Digger.

O'BRIEN: The interesting -- the interesting thing about Scooter is Scooter is a big guy. He's one of the largest guys in the astronaut core (ph). His robot arm operator, Nancy Currie, she's about the most emanative. So, it's a Mutt and Jeff combination there in the flight deck, as they were homing in on the Hubble space telescope, going through their checklist, seen there, there's Digger sitting in the left seat trying on the commander seat for size. There's Jim Newman, one of the space walkers. He'll be out into the board (ph) a little after midnight Eastern time tonight, 1:00 a.m. or thereabouts.

Let's take a look at the actual capture of the Hubble. The main event of today, they make it look simple, don't they? It's just a matter of bringing that on there, kind of a socket wrench attaching to an attached point, but it's a little more complicated than that, of course, especially when you consider a $6-billion program rides on it. But Nancy Currie did it like the pro she is. She's an Army helicopter pilot. She says that's actually good training for flying the arm, which is the turn they use.

There you see the end of it, it was going in this way to that attached point. This is a shot -- this is a shot right on there, and that's the target she's aiming for. As long as that little dot stays in the middle of that little circle, you're flying down the shoot. Now, speaking of flying down the shoot, as they were approaching the Hubble, check this out. Look what they saw. Is that cool or what? That is a piece of space debris.

Now NASA is telling me they don't know what it belongs to or what it is. It looks like the piece of a tethering (ph) or a collar to an old rocket. They say no collision avoidance was required, and it wasn't really as close as it seems. Nevertheless, kind of an interesting little show, which was a prelude to visiting the Hubble. Of course, is they mess up the Hubble, it will be the world's most expensive piece of space junk. But they won't do that. That'll be fine.

PHILLIPS: I wouldn't call it junk, that's for sure. Miles, thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: My pleasure.

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