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Discovery Astronauts Speak Out

Aired August 2, 2005 - 06:00   ET


It's all systems go for an in-flight repair job on the Space Shuttle Discovery. NASA is adding another key task to the space walk planned for Wednesday. A live presser on the Discovery mission this hour.

The president stands by his man, making a controversial recess appointment to the United Nations.

And Baltimore's star slugger suspended for steroids. He says he's as surprised as the rest of us.

ANNOUNCER: From the Time Warner Center in New York, this is DAYBREAK with Carol Costello and Chad Myers.

COSTELLO: And good morning to you.

We'll have more on the suspension of the Orioles' Rafael Palmeiro in just a minute.

Also ahead, some parents have a hard time letting go, even when their kids are college age. Some universities are coming up with ways to help students break free. How about parent bouncers?

And how do you feel about your company's human resource department? A lot of workers are frustrated. We'll look at some of the reasons why people hate H.R.

But first, now in the news, President Bush is set to sign an important trade pact today. The White House says the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, is vital to national security. After the signing, the president heads off for a few weeks of vacation at his ranch in Texas.

No one was seriously injured by a bomb blast this morning in Tehran, Iran. A small device exploded in an office building that houses British Airways and the oil giant B.P. The incident now under investigation.

This just in to CNN. Take a look at these pictures. Texas firefighters battling a four alarm blaze at an assisted living center. This is just north of Houston. It's described as a 300-unit facility. It houses the elderly and ill. Residents have been evacuated. It's not clear if they are all accounted for. You see the flames shooting from the roof of that building. Of course we'll keep you posted.

Let's head to the forecast center now and -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Wow! Those were scary pictures there



COSTELLO: We are watching the Space Shuttle Discovery this morning. The astronauts scheduled to talk about their new mission any minute now. We're going to keep an eye on that for you. The new mission they're talking about is a repair job. During a scheduled space walk tomorrow, Astronaut Steve Robinson will try and fix a problem on the shuttle's underbelly. The problem is with filler material between the shuttle's heat tiles. It's sticking up in two places, which could jeopardize the orbiter upon reentry. It affects the aerodynamics of the craft.

We'll have a live report on the mission and hear what the astronauts have to say about it.

That will happen some time at the bottom of this hour. We think 6:30 Eastern time, but it's awfully hard to tell with a live shot out of space.

Now to the London terror investigation. Two more men have been taken into custody in connection with those attempted attacks on July 31st, the botched ones.

Let's head live to London now and Chris Burns, who has more on the arrests and the ongoing probe.

What's new this morning?


Yes, that is evidence that the dragnet across Britain continues. Those two men were apprehended in South London overnight. There was an area that was cordoned off by police, even a car that was covered by a blue tarpaulin, as authorities looked and searched through that area, trying to find any more evidence they could in connection with possibly the July 21st bombings.

Altogether, some two dozen people are in police hands, including the four suspected of carrying those bombs that didn't go off on July 21st. They're also trying to get, of course, to the bottom of the July 7th attacks that killed more than 50 people.

At the same time, though, there is a problem. One of those is in Italian hands, Hamdi Issac, and the extradition process that here, at New Scotland Yard, only -- that is something that Sherlock Holmes wouldn't have dreamed of having to deal with, the legal minefield of an extradition process.

Why? The off -- the attorney for Hamdi Issac is saying that he wouldn't get a fair trial here. And that's what civil rights groups say. Take a look at some of these headlines that some of -- that one of the newspapers is running here, in some of those tabloids here in Britain. Can you expect to get a fair trial if you've got front pages looking like this, essentially trying and convicting them before they even enter a courtroom? And that is what the lawyer is arguing.

Hamdi Issac also faces Italian charges, which might hold him back. It could take months. That could also, of course, slow down the process of investigation here, because authorities would like to get him to give some testimony here that might speed up the investigation among the other suspects.

Meanwhile, the subways are continuing to open. Two more lines open today. Two others remain shut down, as authorities slowly creep it back to activity.

The security is incredible intense, though, and, of course, there are also debate about just how many people should be searched and how the head of transit security here in Britain was saying over the weekend, we're not going to be searching little old white ladies. That was a terribly politically incorrect thing to say, because some civil rights groups, including Muslims, are saying you're doing racial profiling here, that's not fair.

So the debate goes on there -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Oh, yes, I think that was a poor choice of descriptions, little old white ladies. Not good.

BURNS: Absolutely.


Chris Burns reporting live from London this morning.

The funeral of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd is set to begin in just a couple of hours. Yesterday's news of the king's death sent oil prices to a new record high. The price for a barrel of crude jumped more than 60 -- jumped to, I should say, $61.50. But one top Saudi diplomat says the country will continue to pump oil at a reasonable price.

In the meantime, President Bush sent his congratulations to the new Saudi king. The former Crown Prince Abdullah has visited the president's ranch in Crawford on more than one occasion.

President Bush also bypassed the Senate to put his choice at the United Nations. John Bolton already in place in New York as the new United Nations ambassador.

The controversial nominee had been blocked by the Senate, but the president made him a recess appointment to the post. Massachusetts Democrat Senator Edward Kennedy called it an abuse of power. But the White House says it's an important move. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: Ambassador Bolton is someone who has sometimes used a blunt style. But he is someone who brings passion and experience and a results oriented approach to the position. That's exactly the kind of person we need at the United Nations during this time of war and time of reform. And that's why the president nominated him to be the ambassador.


COSTELLO: The recess appointment means that Bolton will stay in the job until a new Congress is seated in January of 2007.

Still to come, a live press conference with the astronauts of the Space Shuttle Discovery. You see the live picture there? It's underway now. We're going to turn it around for you after a break.

We'll also have the latest developments in a live report at the bottom of the hour.

At 20 minutes past, are you a helicopter parent? Universities use new tactics to get mom and dad to let go already.

And later, the frustrations over H.R. A business journalist joins us to talk about why so many of you hate your human resources department.

But first, here's a look at what else is making news this Tuesday.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The top sports characters of CNN's first 25 years.

We asked the editors at "Sports Illustrated" magazine to come up with a list.

At number 20, edgy and exciting, quarterback Bret Favre is a fan favorite.

He does things no other quarterbacks can get away with -- and shouldn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At number 19, celebrity came a courting for tennis darling Anna Kournikova, who aced her endorsements and dazzled fans with her superstar looks.

At number 18, baseball's lead off slugger Ricky Henderson was the sultan of stolen bases.

At number 17, William "The Refrigerator" Perry was the NFL's big blocker who bulldozed his way to the end zone.

At number 16, baseball's Fernando Valenzuela was the pitching phenom with the golden arm.

Stay tuned as we countdown to number one.



COSTELLO: All right, I told you before there is a live presser going on now in space.

There might be a little delay, so have a little patience with us. But the astronauts are talking about the repairs they're going to make on the underbelly of the shuttle. That will happen some time tomorrow morning on a space walk.

Let's listen.

SERGEI KRIKALEV, COMMANDER, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION: We can use another. We can use other assets, another tour vehicle to send people and send cargo.

So I think when faced -- when the shuttle leaves the space in the air, we are going to operate the way we did before. And actually we have a lot of new equipment and we send back home used equipment. So we are going to be in better shape than before our shuttle arrival.

QUESTION: Kelly Young with New Scientists, for Eileen Collins, I believe.

Before the mission, I know several of you said you would prefer to stay on the station rather than come back on a repaired heat shield. And I was wondering if this situation in any way qualifies?

EILEEN COLLINS, DISCOVERY SHUTTLE COMMANDER: Well, this situation, I believe, will certainly be safe for us for entry and I'm actually not that worried about it. I think the comments that I made earlier, several months ago, we have made progress since then. We are able to repair small types of damage. For very large types of damage, when you get that mature to the point that we can repair those types of damage.

But we have come to a point that we understand what is safe to come home with and what isn't. And for areas that we're not sure about, there will be ongoing work for that.

QUESTION: Terry Malick with and "Space News" for Commanders Collins and Krikalev.

This flight is a test flight and I'm just curious how the changes to your third EVA and also that extra day kind of fold into that status as a test flight and how they're going to help support the station. COLLINS: Well, the 30 (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is different than what we had practiced for many months and years. We practiced EVA 3. And now we're changing it. But I think we have the flexibility to do that. It's important to do that gap-filler task and we have been able to molt that into the EVA time line. And the crew is reviewing that today. And we're starting to get comfortable with it. And I'll let Sergei answer the question about the space station.

KRIKALEV: And for the space station, for us, actually, there's a drama. It's very good to have guests for one more day. Initially, the plan was to stay in docked configuration with one shorter. But now we are going to have the shuttle one day longer. And John and I have spent here already more than 100 days. So it's really nice to have more people up here in the space before a longer time.

QUESTION: Robert Pearlman with

Steve, you said you have your trusty lunch box on board. And Eileen, you've mentioned bringing your daughter's school class picture.

I wonder what other type of items you brought on board to make the station and shuttle more like your home or give it your touch.

JIM KELLY, DISCOVERY ASTRONAUT: I think each of us brought items along with us to make it a little bit more like home and also to bring stuff from other family members and things like that. I brought a few special things along with me, things that remind me of my kids at home and my wife. And I also have a very good friend, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Ken Griffith (ph). I've got a flag that he flew over Iraq just to remember the troops back down there on Earth that are protecting our freedoms around the globe.

So I like to do things like that. So I brought a flag with me that came from the desert. So we bring things like that. I've got, a cousin who brought a firefighting badge along with me that I'll return to him and his fire department when we're done. So I think all of us brought stuff from high schools, colleges, friends and family, just to help us while we go through this and also remember the folks back down there on Earth that are working really hard.

We also brought a lot of stuff for folks that work on the shuttle, to get us up here and get us ready to go. So we're carrying things for the folks back in different areas back home that have worked really hard, probably a lot harder than we have, to be up here. So I think each and every one of us has done something like that just to remember the folks back on Earth.

QUESTION: Mark Carreau from the "Houston Chronicle" for John Phillips.

Can you tell us some of the equipment that will be coming off the space station and back to the shuttle that will especially be helpful to you and your commander in making the space station more efficient?

JOHN PHILLIPS, SCIENCE OFFICER AND FLIGHT ENGINEER, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION: Well, the biggest thing that's coming off and coming down to the ground that will help us maximize our efficiency up here is large tonnage of gear that we had stowed in the Russian functional cargo block, the Zarya module. And particularly some Kors (ph) radio sets. These are radio sets that are used for docking and navigation, the progress of Soyuz vehicles. And then when the progress of Soyuz is up here, we pull them out and they're a great big, about the size of a small refrigerator. And we had -- they're like a very small refrigerator, actually. And we had about a dozen on board and we're sending most of them down. We only have one left.

So that will free up a lot of space and it will give us a place where we -- a little buffer zone when we need to move things so that we can move it into that space and we're not constantly shuffling things from one spot to another. So I think that's the biggest single item.

But we've got an awful lot of stuff that we sent home and we've got another unsung story here, unsung song, is that they've brought us some scientific equipment that's very important.

We've got a brand shiny new rack of scientific apparatus right in front of me on my right, the Human Research Facility Number Two rack. And we're really looking forward to activating that and doing a little shakedown experiment on it.

QUESTION: This is Bill Harwood with CBS News for Andy Thomas, if I could.

Andy, this gap-filler thing is, as you can imagine, has gotten a lot of attention down here, rather justifiably or not.

What is your take on it? A, what is your sense of, A, the risk of flying without it as much as you know, as opposed to just going and fixing it? It sounds pretty straightforward, but what's your cut?

ANDY THOMAS, DISCOVERY ASTRONAUT: Yes, I think the fix is actually very hopeful, which is a large part of why I think it's a justifiable exercise. You know, when we first heard about it, I think a number of us did have misgivings. We were concerned about it. We were concerned about the implications of it and what was motivating it.

The ground has been very good in sending us up a lot of information about it. We understand some of the physics that's behind what would happen if it were up there. We know that it were to remain there, even under the worst case scenario, it wouldn't present a threat to the orbiter. There might be some minor structural damage that would require significant post-flight attention, but it wouldn't be a threat to us personally.

However, it's a lot better, for a number of reasons, performance reasons, if you can remove this up here. And that justifies doing it considering that every indication is that the removal of the material should be pretty straightforward and pretty easy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Discovery, ISS, this is JFCPAO. Please stand by for a voice check from KFCPAO.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Discovery ISS, this is Kennedy PAO.

How do you hear me?

O'CONNOR: Discovery and ISS hear you loud and clear.

QUESTION: Good morning.

Peter King with CBS News Radio.

And a question about the gap-filler and the tiles. I mean, we know how tight the gap-filler is supposed to be packed in and the brittleness of the tiles we've heard about for years.

For Steve Robinson, Steve, is it at all possible that you could yank out the gap-filler and take a piece of tile with it? Or are you confident that that's not going to happen?

ROBINSON: Well, Peter, there won't be any yanking going on at all. It'll be a gentle pull with my hand and if that doesn't work, I have some forceps. I'll give it slightly more than a gentle pull. If that doesn't work, I saw it off with a hacksaw. No yanking.

QUESTION: OK, a follow-up for Steve Robinson from David Water, Central Florida News 13, Orlando.

I wanted to see what kind of problems you specifically ran into when you were doing this training in Houston, if you bumped into anything when you were doing that. And then if you can paint the historical perspective on doing this first repair to the outside of a shuttle.

And then a follow-up for Command Collins. We talked to you at the shuttle landing facility about your thoughts on Columbia and what you'd be doing for them and bringing up with you. If you can follow- up with it now that you're in orbit and tell us what you're doing there.

ROBINSON: Well, let's see if I can get all your questions right.

In training for these kind of operations, you do have to develop sort of an expanded body awareness. When you're in the space station, you're huge. You're much larger than your own body. And so your sense of where your body ends, your limits, have to be -- you sort of have to adapt to new limits.

And that's a process that you go through in training. And initially you bump into lots of things, especially underwater. You bump into hand rails and the sides of vehicles. And, so we learn not to do that. And then we put that to use in those last two EVAs. Soichi and I have sort of been in training to be outside in the last two EVAs and I think we're ready to do this in a very, very careful manner. Besides, it's not just me. I will also have a camera on the robotic arm extension looking at me and trying to look at the clearance between me and the orbiter belly. So we'll have lots of ways of being very, very conservative. And it's going to be like watching grass grow -- nothing is going to happen fast.

COLLINS: Just a quick answer to your last question.

We do plan, two days from now, the nine of us, to get together and do a commemorative event, which is something that we put together to remember the crews that have gone before us, especially including Columbia. And we did bring a picture of the Columbia crew that we have displayed on the flight deck of Discovery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Discovery ISS, this is Houston ACR.

Please stand by for a voice check from NASA headquarters PAO.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time for a voice check, NASA headquarters (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Discovery ISS, this is NASA headquarters PAO.

How do you hear me?

COLLINS: Discovery and ISS, we hear you loud and clear.

QUESTION: This is Alisa Parenti for ABC 7 News out of D.C.

My question is for Commander Collins.

What will other members of the crew be doing when Dr. Robinson makes his space walk?

COLLINS: Well, we are all going to be very busy. The -- we have two crew members that will be operating, two or three crew members that will be operating space station robotic arms, which Steve will be on. And we also have two other crew members operating the shuttle arm, not the whole time, but it will have to be moved to scan tile board in the shuttle payload bay and then later set up to watch Steve at an angle to make sure we have good clearance with him.

Probably some of the crew members will be doing transfer, but I think that the point, that the highlight of the EVA when Steve is removing the gap-filler, we're all going to be listening very intently.

I should also mention that Andy is choreographing the EVA as the I.V. or intersticular (ph) crew member who is kind of running the show. And I'll watching pretty much from a big picture point of view.

So I think we're all going to be involved somehow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Discovery ISS, this is Houston ACR.

Please stand by for questions from Japanese media at JSC.


COSTELLO: All right, we're going to bring in Miles -- they're working on the translation here -- because I know they're speaking in Japanese and, of course, most of you cannot understand Japanese.

But they're also talking about the repairs to the space shuttle -- Miles.

What you have you heard in here that we should pay special attention to?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know, Carol, it's all Japanese to me, actually. I -- no, it's -- here's the thing. I think that, you know, what -- we've got to keep this in perspective. While it is true this has never happened, no astronaut has ever stepped into the void to do a repair job on a space shuttle in orbit, this is a pretty simple space walk, as they go. Now, they were planning on being out anyway. You know, Steve Robinson will got out there and he'll just kind of pull and hopefully that gap-filler will come out. Or if he has to, he has -- they've fashioned a cutting device using kind of a forceps thing and a little saw and they can just kind of cut.

COSTELLO: Well, Miles, tell us about this material.

Is it cloth? Is it like paper? How hard is it to cut?

O'BRIEN: It -- well, I've got a little piece of it that's going to show up in a couple of hours. But...

COSTELLO: Oh, come on, show us now.

O'BRIEN: It's being FedExed.

It absolutely positively will be here later this morning.

But, it is -- it's kind of stiffened cloth. Think of a piece of cloth just kind of layered upon layered and it kind of has some sort of almost like a glue or a fiberglass kind of thing, which makes it stiff. And it sticks right in between these tiles. And, you know, you might ask, and a good question is well, if the gap-filler is there and you pull it out, isn't that a problem, not to have the gap-filler?

COSTELLO: Exactly.


COSTELLO: So, is it?

O'BRIEN: Well, here's the thing. There's two things to think about.

First of all, one of the gap-fillers in this case is there really for ascent, to keep the tiles from kind of chattering together. That's not a problem on reentry.

The other one does create a little bit of a gap for reentry and it does cause a little bit of a problem. It would allow a little bit of heat to get in. But the engineers say they have looked at that and it's not enough to get too worried about. It would be one of those things that you'd certainly want to fix it after you land, but would not expose the shuttle's aluminum skin to enough heat on one reentry to cause it problems. So...

COSTELLO: OK, well, let me ask you this, because there are conflicting theories as to why this needs to be removed. I mean, some people say it's because it affects the aerodynamics of the ship. Other people say it's because it would, you know, be damaged upon reentry and pulled out and it would get too hot, and then it would, you know, get so hot that it would, well, it would have disastrous effects upon reentry into the atmosphere.

O'BRIEN: Well, yes, actually, those two aren't mutually exclusive.

COSTELLO: Got you.

O'BRIEN: The truth of the matter is you see this animation here. As the shuttle comes in and is exposed to the wispy outer edges of the atmosphere -- and we're talking now in the neighborhood of mach 18 or thereabouts -- it is actually surrounded by what is called the boundary layer. There's actually a barrier of molecules that separate it from that blistering hot plasma. And in order to maintain the integrity of that sort of air bubble, if you will, or that molecule bubble around the shuttle, in order to maintain that, you want the shuttle very smooth.

If it's rough, if it has a little, you know, shuttle stubble on its belly, that would disturb that smoothness and create essentially like focusing the flames of a blowtorch on that one little spot. So smooth is good. Rough is bad.


O'BRIEN: And therefore aerodynamics was a good answer.

COSTELLO: OK. So they're going to shave that shuttle stubble tomorrow.

O'BRIEN: You like that?

COSTELLO: Sometime...

O'BRIEN: We just came up with that -- shaving the shuttle's stubble. That's a good one.

COSTELLO: That was a good one, Miles.

O'BRIEN: If you can say it. If you can say shave the shuttle's stubble...

COSTELLO: Well, don't say it three times and you'll be fine.

O'BRIEN: No. All right.

COSTELLO: OK, Miles, thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: Thanks.

COSTELLO: We're going to take a quick break.

We'll be back with much more on DAYBREAK.



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