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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
Second Shot at Shuttle Launch; Mideast Tensions; New Message Purportedly from Osama bin Laden
Aired July 2, 2006 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: One day down, another to go, with about eight and a half hours to liftoff for space shuttle Discovery. It's not as encouraging a picture as yesterday morning
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: It looked a little gray out there this morning. Yes, I know.
NGUYEN: There's always hope. We've got eight and a half hours.
HARRIS: OK. Things could improve. Things could change.
Good morning, everyone. From the CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
I'm Tony Harris.
NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen.
It is 7:00 a.m. at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where we're joined by Miles O'Brien, yet again this morning.
Miles, it kind of feels like Groundhog Day.
HARRIS: Here we go.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. It's like Groundhog Day, only worse, unfortunately.
I appreciate your attempt to look on the bright side, but for every silver lining, there is a dark cloud here this morning, Betty and Tony. Seventy percent chance the weather will get in the way of a launch today. The weather will gradually improve, and the best chance we see on the horizon is the Fourth of July.
Could this launch be the ultimate fireworks display? We'll get into that in just a moment.
Back to you guys.
HARRIS: OK, Miles. Appreciate it. Talk to you soon.
Let's get a check of other headlines "Now in the News."
Israel turns up the heat on Hamas, and then some. An Israeli airstrike hit the Gaza office of the Palestinian prime minister today. A bystander was injured. The blast was Israel's latest move aimed at freeing a kidnapped Israeli soldier.
A live report from Gaza is just minutes away.
In Baghdad, the bombs keep coming. Police say a car bomb exploded near a police station in central Baghdad this morning, wounding 13 people. Seven more were wounded in two other explosions. This follows yesterday's devastating car bomb attack that killed more than 60 people.
NGUYEN: It could be another message from the most wanted man in the world. An audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden was released on a militant Web site yesterday. The speaker pays tribute to the new al Qaeda leader in Iraq and issues threats against Shiites.
CNN's Nic Robertson will have more on this in a live report from Baghdad in just a few minutes.
HARRIS: And Betty, it's election day in Mexico. Mexicans held -- or head to the polls in about two hours to vote for a new president. There are three major candidates. President Vicente Fox is nearing the end of his six-year term. By Mexican law, he can't run again.
NGUYEN: Well, it is a sad good-bye for an American soldier. Thousands of people turned out for a memorial service for Private 1st Class Thomas Tucker in Oregon yesterday.
He was kidnapped and killed in Iraq last month. Tucker's parents were presented with his purple Heart and Bronze Star medals. Then a Black Hawk helicopter did a fly-over.
We are keeping you informed. This is CNN, the most trusted name in news.
All right. NASA will try once again today to get the space shuttle Discovery off the ground. Thunderstorms near the Kennedy Space Center forced NASA to call off yesterday's launch, and today's target time is 3:26 p.m. Eastern.
Miles O'Brien is the man on the scene. He's joined again this morning by former shuttle commander Eileen Collins.
And I guess, Miles, we'll try this once again, but you don't seem too excited about the fact that this may happen today.
O'BRIEN: Well, you know, you never know until you know.
O'BRIEN: And so we will go through the motions here, but it is not looking as good as it was yesterday.
At this time yesterday, we were saying only a 40 percent chance the weather would get in the way of the launch. This morning we're saying 70 percent chance.
You know what's interesting, what happened yesterday, when it came time for launch, a little before 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, they were actually go for weather on the launch end, the people in charge of the launch portion. Now, let me explain further.
You have to be go also for a shuttle landing about 20, 30 minutes after the launch, in case there is an abort scenario. They call it a return to launch site. They were no go on that front because of those thunder clouds.
They call them anvil clouds. It's basically a thunder cloud that's had its top sliced off, hence the anvil effect. And as a result, they scrubbed the launch.
Let's listen to what they said as the NASA launch director, Mike Leinbach, gave the crew the word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a dynamic day, and I think we're just playing it too close here. We've got anvils within 20 miles and over the launch trajectory. It's not a good day to launch.
MIKE LEINBACH, NASA LAUNCH DIRECTOR: Yes, copy and concur.
Discovery launch director?
STEVE LINDSEY, COMMANDER, DISCOVERY: Go ahead.
LEINBACH: Well, Steve, sorry to break your string, but we're not going to make it today. So I appreciate your support, both from the crew and the whole launch team, and the team worldwide trying to get this vehicle off the ground today, but it's not a good day to launch for shuttle, so we're going to try again tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: There you have it, Mike Leinbach talking to Steve Lindsey, the commander of the space shuttle Discovery, breaking his string. He apparently had a little stretch of non-scrub launches. No longer. They had an extra night here on Earth.
Eileen Collins, commander of the last shuttle mission of Discovery a year ago, knows what it's like to scrub for weather, for mechanical issues. No string for her.
And first of all, before we get into the weather picture for today, we talked about the ride out to the pad in that astrovan. What's the ride back to crew quarters like?
EILEEN COLLINS, ASTRONAUT: Well, I think the crew is -- they're tired, first of all, but for my crew, we were joking around a little bit. Because I think, you know, you go through this pretty intense -- you know, actually it's physically tough on you, you know, getting into the seats, strapping in, wearing the suit. Laying on your back can be a little painful after all those hours.
So, you know, you're relaxed, you joke around a little bit. But the truth is, you're disappointed.
I mean, everybody wants to launch. It's very important for the crew to get back into crew quarters and to rest. They need to get cleaned up, get something good to eat, get some sleep and be ready to go again today.
O'BRIEN: Yes. So they're not partaking of the nightlife on Cocoa Beach.
COLLINS: I don't think so.
O'BRIEN: OK. So there you see the long ride back, and hopefully a good night's rest. They'll do the whole routine again today, barring any unforeseen complications or technical difficulties.
You just had a good weather briefing. What are they telling you, basically? A bad day today, right?
COLLINS: Well, they're saying again, 70 percent chance a no go, as you said. But we think the weather is going to move in a little bit earlier today. So, if that happens, there's a possibility they may call off the launch a little bit sooner.
It is a good idea to go down to T minus 9. There's about a 30 to 45-minute hold in that T minus 9 period. That gives the managers a chance to look at the weather and then any technical problems there might be.
O'BRIEN: All right.
We'll be here every step of the way. No matter what you do, you'll know what's going on with the space shuttle Discovery if you stay with CNN and CNN Pipeline all throughout the day.
Back to you guys in Atlanta.
NGUYEN: Well, let me ask you this quickly, Miles, because yesterday we were talking about that thruster that was having a bit of a problem. What's the latest on that?
O'BRIEN: Well, here's -- the short answer on the thruster is they're going to fly with it as it is, no matter what, because the fix on it is not so easy. I'm just going to quickly tell you real quick, because I've got to have my model to explain this.
The thruster in the back left portion of the space shuttle, and these are the very subtle thrusters, only 24 pounds of thrust, as compared to about 800 pounds of thrust for the big ones, which has a thermostat or a heater, actually, that has failed. They've decided to fly without it, and the crew is fine with it, the engineers are fine with it. And apparently, the fix is so long, that they're not going to try to fix it before they launch again.
Eileen, do you think that's a good call?
COLLINS: Yes, I do. The latest I've heard is that it could take up to 12 days to do the fix.
COLLINS: It turns out that that jet is a yaw jet. It fires exactly straight to the left. They can actually fly on berniers (ph) without that jet.
So they'll be able to do the fine control on orbit, but if they do lose another jet, it could cause some problems and they might have to go to the primaries. But right now they can fly berniers (ph), so they will be in a mode where they can save some fuel and have the nice control.
O'BRIEN: So it sounds like a pretty good scenario then -- Betty.
NGUYEN: All right, Miles. Thanks for clarifying for us, as always. We'll talk to you soon.
HARRIS: OK. Let's get the complete weather story, because that -- boy, 70 percent, a no go because of weather.
NGUYEN: A big issue today.
HARRIS: Reynolds Wolf is upstairs in the CNN weather center for us.
Reynolds, good morning.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It doesn't look too good, does it?
HARRIS: No, it doesn't.
NGUYEN: No. You see all the clouds out there already.
WOLF: Oh, I know.
WOLF: Back to you.
NGUYEN: That's not good, because Miles was saying maybe, you know, if it doesn't happen today, the next possible time would be Fourth of July.
WOLF: There you go.
HARRIS: Which would provide a heck of a show.
NGUYEN: Yes, it would be quite a show. A little bit of a fireworks display there, no doubt.
HARRIS: Still a little disappointing not to get it off this weekend, though.
NGUYEN: Yes, that's true.
HARRIS: OK, Reynolds. Thank you.
WOLF: You bet.
HARRIS: We know a lot of you have questions about the space program in general, and this mission in particular. And no journalist is more uniquely qualified to answer them than our own Miles O'Brien.
NGUYEN: That's true. And you can shoot off an e-mail to Miles with your question, because you know he can answer it.
NGUYEN: And we'll pass it along to him right here on the air. So if you've got any questions about this launch, about the space shuttle program in general, send them this morning. Our address, email@example.com. We'll try to get those answers for you.
You'll want to stay with CNN throughout the day as we do bring you the latest on the Discovery launch. Next hour, Miles speaks with astronaut Scott Kelly, whose twin brother, Mark, is on the Discovery crew.
And just a reminder for you that our special live coverage begins today at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.
HARRIS: All means necessary, that's Israel's position in winning the release of a kidnapped Israeli soldier. This morning, Israeli aircraft blasted the office of the Palestinian prime minister in Gaza to turn up the heat on Hamas.
Live now to CNN's Paula Hancocks in Gaza City.
Paula, good morning.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Tony.
Well, the prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, are currently in emergency talks in the remains of the prime minister's offices. Now, as you say, overnight, Israeli airstrikes destroyed some of the offices. Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister, went in the early hours on Sunday to assess the damage and he was far less than impressed with Israel's targets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is a part of the politics of targeting the Palestinian people who suffer such strikes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is obvious that logic has been lost.
This is a reflection of barbaric politics. The Palestinians are people who believe in god, with a strong will, and hold to their fundamental rights. And this government will remain faithful to achieving the interests of the Palestinian people, and it will work to reflect the people's will and steadfastness. And we say enough to such unjust politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS: In the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said that he has instructed the Israeli military to do everything that is necessary to make sure that Gilad Shalit, the 19-year-old corporal who was kidnapped by Palestinian militants exactly a week ago, to make sure that he is safely returned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): These are not easy days for the state of Israel, but we have no intention of capitulating to blackmail. Everyone knows that capitulating to terrorism means inviting the next act of terrorism. We will not do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS: Now, also, the shelling in northern Gaza and southern Gaza has been continuing this Sunday. In addition, sonic booms, which don't have a military objective but do strike fear into Palestinians' hearts. Israeli military forces obviously hoping to pile on the pressure onto Palestinian militants to release this soldier.
Also, the Israeli tanks and troops are still massed on the border of northern Gaza. Olmert has been threatening in the past few days that there would be a military incursion.
And as for the humanitarian situation, there are serious worries that fuel, electricity, food and clean water are running out. And we've heard from Israel in the past couple of hours they've opened one of the main crossings to allow some emergency supplies into Gaza and also opened one of the fuel pipes so that some fuel can get into fuel generators for hospitals and other emergency places.
Back to you.
HARRIS: CNN Paula Hancocks for us in Gaza City.
Paula, appreciate it. Thank you.
NGUYEN: Now another message of terror from the world's most wanted man. But this time there is something different.
Nic Robertson has the latest information straight ahead in about three minutes.
HARRIS: And religion and politics. Does the GOP own all things God? Not so, say Democrats. That's in our "Faces of Faith."
You're watching CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
NGUYEN: There is another taped message circulating, purportedly from Osama bin Laden. CNN is analyzing that tape to determine if it's authentic, but in the meantime, let's go to CNN's Nic Robertson in Baghdad with the latest.
Nic, what does this tape say?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very interesting, Betty, that Osama bin Laden has devoted so much time and detailed attention to Iraq. He hasn't given this much focus and this much detail on Iraq and the conflict here so far.
What he does do is say that he's heard from the -- from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's fighters, saying that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has now been replaced by Abu Hamza al-Mujahir. This is a name we have heard before.
Osama bin Laden appears to confirm that in this particular case, but what he does and what we haven't seen him do before is explicitly almost tell the Sunnis that it is OK to attack the Shias, because he says the Shia-led government here of Ibrahim al-Jaafari has been responsible for killing, as he says, 40,000 Sunnis. That's not an accurate reflection, but that's what he's telling his people.
And he's also saying to them, trust these leaders in Iraq now. If you want to rid of the U.S. forces out of the country, they've told you, the past prime ministers have told you that, sign up to the political process and you'll get the Americans out of the country.
And he said, well, look at the prime minister two times ago, Iyad Allawi. He came, he went, the Americans are still there.
The last prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the same situation. He said the current prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, will promise you the same thing, sign up to the political process and the Americans will go.
Osama bin Laden's very clear message that this time is fight the Shias and fight the occupation, because that's the only way, in his words, to get the Americans out of this country -- Betty.
NGUYEN: That's interesting.
Another thing that I took note of, and you can help us sort this out, hopefully, this Abu Hamza al -- how do you pronounce his last name? Mujahir.
NGUYEN: Mujahir, yes. OK. Now, that is this person who, assuming it's Osama bin Laden now, that's going to be verified, is saying on this tape, that is the new leader in Iraq. Yet, the Americans say it's Abu Ayyub al-Masri.
Now, are they the same person? ROBERTSON: The situation at this time is that U.S. military officials here and back in the Pentagon who have studied the statements coming out from the insurgents here about Abu Hamza al- Mujahir and what Osama bin Laden is saying, their best assessment at this time, and it is their best assessment, that Abu Hamza al-Mujahir and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, Abu Ayyub, the Egyptian, are one and the same person, but that is only their best assessment. They don't know this to be 100 percent accurate at this time.
But it's very interesting. Just hours before Osama bin Laden's statement was released on the Internet, the State Department put a $5 million bounty on Abu Ayyub al-Masri's head -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Which is precisely why I asked.
All right. Thank you so much, Nic Robertson, for trying to clarify that for us. We appreciate it.
So, will al Qaeda pull Iraq apart? That's the question. Today at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, we're going to have analysis from around the world with John Roberts and his team. "Iraq: A Week at War," only on CNN, the most trusted name in news.
HARRIS: So, Betty, we're waiting for liftoff.
NGUYEN: We've been waiting since yesterday.
HARRIS: And particularly today, not looking so good. Although this is an improving picture. Wouldn't you say?
NGUYEN: It does look a little -- I mean, you can still see the clouds, but it's not as gray as it was a little bit earlier.
HARRIS: That's better, isn't it?
NGUYEN: Well, OK. But, according to folks like Reynolds Wolf...
NGUYEN: ... only a 30 percent chance of go today, as opposed to a 40 percent yesterday. So...
HARRIS: Yes. OK. We'll continue to watch it.
Another countdown for space shuttle Discovery is what we're talking about here. Will the weather put the mission on hold again? We are live at the Kennedy Space Center with Miles O'Brien in about 13 minutes.
And celebrity chefs, luxury condos, private lounges. Ah, it sounds like an exclusive event, right? Well, you might be surprised to find out which sport is catering to an upscale fan base.
Up next, a man who likes to run with the rich and famous.
HARRIS: Hey now. NGUYEN: There he is. "Beyond the Game."
RICK HORROW, AUTHOR, "WHEN THE GAME IS ON THE LINE": Good morning. You talk about celebrities. I thought you were talking about me. I'm going to keep talking until you cut me off.
NGUYEN: I figured you would.
HORROW: I'm going to keep talking, like I said. Good morning, Tony. Good morning, Betty. How are you all?
HARRIS: You don't talk. This is a tease. You don't -- kill his microphone.
NGUYEN: Yes, shut him off.
HARRIS: A big win for Tony Stewart at the Pepsi 400 at Daytona. Stewart, who won the race last year, had not finished better than 25th since being injured in a crash earlier this year.
The Pepsi 400 has become a tradition for the Bush White House. This year, it was Vice President Dick Cheney who attended. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was there last year. President Bush was grand marshal in 2000.
This time, the high-level attention underscores how popular and lucrative NASCAR racing has become.
HARRIS (voice over): NASCAR has put the pedal to the metal to move from its so-called redneck roots to a more upscale fan base. At the track, you're likely to see luxury boxes, celebrity chefs, and hospitality tents with corporate types in business casual.
Oh, if you are invited to the NASCAR awards show, evening dress, please.
The 2001 death of racing legend Number 3, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., illustrated the tremendous appeal of the sport and its potential to expand beyond the Mason-Dixon Line.
HARRIS: Sports business analyst Rick Horrow, author of "When the Game is on the Line," has been crunching the numbers, and he joins us from West Palm Beach this morning -- Rick.
HORROW: Happy 4th.
HARRIS: Thank you. HORROW: I'm glad you didn't sing. I missed you yesterday, but I'm glad I have an opportunity to banter with you this morning, my friend.
HARRIS: Hey, I have to tell you something, we need to take a closer look at these numbers you've been crunching for us. This is staggering. The NASCAR brand has a net value of $10 billion?
HARRIS: FOX, NBC -- you want to comment on that and then we can go on?
HORROW: It's a big number. Go on.
HARRIS: OK. All right. FOX, NBC and Turner Sports paid $2.8 billion for the rights to televise the races through 2007, and the sport is showing -- now this is incredible -- a 90 percent annual growth rate? Can we buy stock?
HORROW: Yes, you could buy stock in the public company, ISC, or others. But the bottom line is, the performance is key.
There was a study done, Georgia Pacific for General Motors -- $300 million increase in their value two days after announcing deals through the stock market. Television's up 33 percent in the contract for 2007 and beyond. And why not?
The fans are more avid and more loyal than any other sport. In fact, a race now in Talladega at the end of April, there was a five- hour rain delay that was covered that brought in 7.2 million viewers. The NBA playoff game between the Heat and Bulls, only 3.6 million, at the same time the rain delay won out.
In fact, movies are now naming their sponsorship races, NASCAR races are tied in. A year and a half ago in Charlotte, there was a race called the SpongeBob SquarePants 300.
Need we say anymore?
HARRIS: And then they've got that NASCAR movie with that Will Ferrell coming up pretty soon, that Robbie Ricky (ph) -- Ricky (ph) -- whatever it is.
I've got to ask you, 90 percent annual growth rate, talk to us about how NASCAR is reaching out to women and minorities.
HORROW: Well, they're expanding the footprint generally. A hundred and fifty countries broadcast the race last night. And you have expanding in Canada and Mexico, new races.
You've got Seattle and New York for the footprint nationally, but there is a 30 percent increase in African-American support. Bill Lester, the driver, debuting in Atlanta.
You also have women who make up 40 percent of NASCAR fans now, by the way, and 250 million dollars of merchandise. There's even a NASCAR bikini coming out just in time for summer.
HARRIS: Well, that's just outstanding.
Tim Finchem, he's the guy who runs the PGA tour. He made a pretty big announcement this week. It's your fair ball of the week, isn't it?
HORROW: Well, it's part of my fair ball. The fair ball is a $35 million prize money commitment for their new playoff system patterned off the NASCAR chase for the championship called the FedEx Cup.
It starts in 2007. Everybody's excited about that, as excited as they are me winning the greater Kansas City senior golf classic with Bob Charles in the pro-am on Wednesday. You didn't ask, but I'm telling you anyway.
HARRIS: Oh, you did not! You're making stuff up right...
HORROW: You're talking to a champion, yes, you are.
HARRIS: Did you really, with Bob Charles, the lefty? That's great.
HORROW: Yes, sir. The elegant New Zealander. I only make partial stuff up. This is serious. You can validate it. I won this.
HARRIS: OK. And this is CNN, and we will.
Your foul ball, what's your foul ball this week?
HORROW: Well, it's partial foul, again. Six of the first picks in the NBA draft were international. Now, I'm not saying that's not really a good thing. There are 150 countries, and a quarter of the revenue from the NBA comes across the pond. But, Wimbledon, no Americans left. World Cup, we got smacked.
So the bottom line is, our American sportsmen need to continue to develop, or it's going to be totally international game. Not totally bad, but, of course, something to watch. Just like you having a wonderful holiday, my friend.
HARRIS: Well, and to you as well. There he is, Rick Horrow, taking us "Beyond the Game."
Happy holidays, Rick. See you next week.
HORROW: Yes, sir.
HARRIS: Before NASCAR, you know, they raced on dirt. They still do.
"CNN PRESENTS: Dirt Track Warriors." It's a story of great character, great speed, and the pulse of American culture. You can catch it tonight, 8:00 Eastern, only on CNN.
NGUYEN: And I'm still scratching my head over that NASCAR bikini thing. But, you know, we'll move on and we'll just let that one go.
Another day, another countdown. That's what we're talking about now. We are about eight hours away from liftoff for space shuttle Discovery.
Will the weather cooperate? That is the big question.
Miles O'Brien and retired astronaut Eileen Collins are live with the latest in just six minutes.
HARRIS: And Democrats are working on a new strategy. They're seeking the blessing of church-goers.
That story in about 15 minutes in our "Faces of Faith."
NGUYEN: Well NASA is going to try once again today to launch shuttle "Discovery." Here's a live picture right now. Nearby thunderstorms, though, yesterday forced the cancellation of that scheduled liftoff. And you can see the clouds right now surrounding the launch pad. If weather permits, they'll attempt another launch at 3:26 p.m. eastern today. CNN's special live coverage begins at 3:00 eastern. And in about a minute we're going to go live to our Miles O'Brien and former shuttle commander Eileen Collins, so stick around for that.
In the meantime, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the slain terror leader in Iraq, has reportedly been buried at a secret location in Baghdad. Wire service reports say that word comes today from Iraq's national security advisor. Iraqi officials would not give any specific details. You may recall Al Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike on June 7th.
An Israeli helicopter attacked the Palestinian prime minister's offices in Gaza this morning, setting the building on fire. Two other Israeli air strikes followed, including an attack on a suspected Hamas training camp. The strikes come one week after Palestinian militants kidnapped an Israeli soldier during a raid in Israel. Two Israeli soldiers were killed in that raid.
Well, two British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan when their base came under attack. The British Defense Ministry says the base was hit by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire yesterday. The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan is currently involved in two major operations to root out Taliban insurgents.
Firefighters in Arizona are working to contain a fast-moving wildfire about 50 miles north of Phoenix. All you can see is really the smoke at this point. Officials say the blaze near Crown King, already has charred more than 5,000 acres. And in Nevada, a 2,000- acre fire continues to burn north of Las Vegas. Officials say that blaze is about 30 percent contained.
Well, a search resumes this morning in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, for a missing person. Now, witnesses say a woman disappeared after a boat went over the Highland Park Dam of the Allegheny River last night. Seven people were pulled from the water, one of them later died. The other six are recovering from injuries. You are watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
HARRIS: As Betty mentioned, seems like three minutes ago now.
NGUYEN: That was a long read.
HARRIS: Let's go back now to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where NASA officials are anxiously watching the skies ahead of today's rescheduled shuttle launch. Our own Miles O'Brien is there and on task, as they say, Betty. Former shuttle commander Eileen Collins is also with him. Miles, good morning.
O'BRIEN: Good to see you, Tony. The space shuttle crew is up and going, they're getting some breakfast, getting ready to begin the process all over again, kind of a Groundhog Day ritual from yesterday. And it pretty much goes like clockwork, everything about 20 minutes earlier because that window of opportunity, that narrow band of time, when the space station comes overhead allowing the shuttle to catch up with it, moves 20 minutes earlier every day. Its orbital mechanics, we don't need to go any farther into that one.
Let's talk with Eileen Collins about what it's like to go through what they're going through right now. Eileen Collins, the former shuttle commander who was in charge of the mission last year at this time. Eileen scrubs, they're part of -- scrub is the NASA term for a delay. These are people who have trained years and years and years. On the one hand, another day, what's another day? On the other hand, there is a bit of an emotional roller coaster that goes along with getting into one of these rockets, right?
COLLINS: Well I think the importance for them is to stay focused. For me, I always tried to stay away from the emotions, because I think the emotions can take away some of your energy. You are excited though, and you are prepared to do the mission. I know the astronauts are very dedicated to making this mission go very well. They want to do a great job. So their job over the past, well, over the past 12 hours or so was just to rest, to take it easy. They are prepared. They don't need to do any more studying. They just need to take it easy and rest.
O'BRIEN: We're looking at some pictures of them actually getting inside "Discovery," as that happened earlier yesterday, and it looks uncomfortable, just sitting there. And they sat on their backs for, you know, several hours before the word came down. You're anxious to either be floating around in space or get off, one way or the other, right?
COLLINS: Well, it's hard to get in your seat. For the commander and pilot, it's like a little tube that you're getting into. Now, remember, the shuttle's on its back, so you're getting into a seat that's on its back. Your parachute is in there, which is a little bit bumpy. You've got to strap into the parachute, strap into the seat. You lay on your back for about three hours, and it just starts to hurt after a while. It's comfortable for the first hour or so, but it is uncomfortable. You've got your helmet on, you've got your cooling suit. You're in there pretty tight. So I would say its a little relief to get out. But if you had a choice, you would much rather go to orbit, because it's 8 minutes to get up to orbit and it takes at least an hour to get out of the shuttle if you do a scrub.
O'BRIEN: So faster to go to space?
COLLINS: It's faster to go to space.
O'BRIEN: What is that -- we were talking about that ride back. You said on the ride out, try to keep it light, joke about things. On the way back, is it the same kind of tone or are you kind of down, just everybody quiet and tired?
COLLINS: Well I think it's a little bit of a lighter tone coming back. At least it was for my crew. We were kind of happy and joking around, but actually, we came back from a scrub on my mission because of a mechanical problem. And we knew that was very serious, but that was something that we were going to start working on once we got back to crew quarters, but I think it's just, it's a little bit of a letdown. And I think one of the ways to deal with it is to just joke around a little bit until it's time to get back to work.
O'BRIEN: Now the decision has been made, they're going to fly without attempting to fix a thruster that has been giving them some difficulties, a small thruster, problem with the heater. Basically, the decision is, might work in space fine, and there's plenty of work around -- Steve Lindsay's going to have plenty of capability for maneuvering as he gets close to the international space station.
COLLINS: There's six of these very small jets that allow the fine control, that allow them to save fuel and actually fly a smoother approach. Two of them -- if one of those two fails, it will still allow you to use the whole set of jets, what's remaining. And it's one of those two subset of those two jets that has failed. So they'll be able to use the fine control. I think they're going to be fine. There's always a chance that the jet could work on orbit. What the control team is looking at now is what the next failures, if a certain other jet fails, they'll look at each one of them, do we have to change our plan. And that's something that I'm sure is in work right now.
O'BRIEN: Alright, Eileen Collins. She'll be with us all day. We'll be here all day, and so will Mother Nature, and she has a vote in all of this. She voted yesterday and said thumbs down to launch. Today doesn't look so good, 70 percent no go is the forecast. I've been here, though, and they've said 90 percent no go and they've launched. So you never know. But we will be watching it. Stay with us all throughout the day, Tony, and we'll keep you posted on "Discovery".
HARRIS: Beautiful Miles appreciate it. Thank you. Mother Nature will have her say, won't she? Okay Miles, thanks.
NGUYEN: There are some other stories making news across America today that we want to tell you about. A flight goes terribly wrong west of Spokane, Washington. According to the FAA, the plane, a single-engine home-made aircraft, crashed while landing Saturday afternoon. Three people aboard were killed.
New Jersey's government shutdown crisis is in its second day with lawmakers still at an impasse. Later this morning they will head to the state capitol to try to reach a compromise on a spending plan. Governor Jon Corzine shut down non-essential state services after the legislature failed to adopt a budget by Friday's midnight deadline.
Well, people who love to see these birds fly in a pre-July 4th celebration, the Air Force Thunderbirds whizzed, whirled, shocked and awed the crowd in Albuquerque. Here's a little history for you though, the unit was given the name Thunderbirds in 1953 after Indian legend that regards the thunderbird or giant eagle with great fear and respect.
HARRIS: An Oregon soldier killed in Iraq is remembered as a hero and patriot. Thousands of people, including the state's governor, gathered in central Oregon yesterday to say good-bye to Private Thomas Tucker. He was one of the U.S. soldiers killed last month in Iraq. Kareen Wynter reports.
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A hero's homecoming for a native son and soldier on his final journey. 25-year-old Private First Class Thomas Tucker was laid to rest as thousands from around the state of Oregon and beyond paid tribute.
CARRIE BARRIER, TUCKER'S COUSIN: He wanted to fight for freedom for everybody, not just himself. And it takes a lot of courage and a lot of heart.
WYNTER: That American pride was on display inside this touching memorial service honoring a young life.
TEYVA TUCKER, TUCKER'S SISTER: In my son's eyes, Tanner and Tyson, their uncle will live forever as a hero. To them, Tommy could walk into a battle with his gun drawn, bullets a blazin' and live through the storm.
WYNTER: Tucker along with fellow soldier Private First Class Kristian Menchaca of Texas was kidnapped and killed in Iraq last month, their mutilated bodies found days later dumped along a bomb- ridden road. Tucker's family says they'll remember him as a prankster, a pianist, and most importantly, a patriot who wanted to make them proud.
GOV. TED KULONGOSKI, OREGON: We will never forget the name Thomas Lowell Tucker, nor will we ever forget who he was, what he did, or the love of country that led him from Madris to Iraq and from Iraq to immortality.
WYNTER: Kareen Wynter, CNN, Redland, Oregon.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE) NGUYEN: Well it is a rebirth of religion in the Democratic Party.
HARRIS: Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama say a show of faith can put their party on the path to redemption. That's ahead in our "Faces of Faith."
NGUYEN: So, are democrats going through a spiritual and political awakening? Two of the party's rising stars say that reaching out to Evangelicals may put the party on the path to redemption in time for the presidential election. CNN's senior national correspondent John Roberts reports. This is a story that first aired on "THE SITUATION ROOM."
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Inside this Washington, D.C. church, a revival of sorts is under way.
A rebirth of religion in the Democratic Party.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) ILLINOIS: I think we made a mistake when we failed to acknowledge the power of faith in people's lives.
ROBERTS: Leading the reawakening is Barack Obama, the superstar senator from Illinois, worried that the democrats have so avoided religion for so long, that many Americans view them as a party of secular snobs.
OBAMA: If we're not talking about how our values inform our public policies, then we are going to be vulnerable to the accusation that we are secular and can't speak to the things that are important to people.
ROBERTS: At stake is a huge swath of voters across the Midwest and through the south, white evangelicals. They count for nearly one in four people who voted in 2004 and they went overwhelmingly for President Bush. Jim Wallis is author of the book "God's Politics", why the right gets it wrong and the left doesn't get it.
REV. JIM WALLIS, EVANGELICAL ACTIVIST: It's the biggest mistake democrats have made, to see the entire territory of religion and values to a religious and political right, who then narrow the issues to only to abortion, gay marriage, then manipulate them politically.
ROBERTS: A large chunk of those Christian voters are religious conservatives and would likely never go democratic. The rest could be up for grabs and there are enough of them that they could make the difference, particularly in a presidential election. Democrats are making extra effort to build trust with moderate evangelicals, calling on a religious anti-abortion governor, Virginia's Tim Kaine, to give this year's state of the union response, creating a congressional working group to promote and share faith-based values, rolling out the party's big guns to drive the message home. SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: It's really important that we as people of faith enlarge the debate in this country. It's been too narrow for too long now.
ROBERTS: Enlarging the debate means expanding the pot of so- called moral and values issues beyond abortion and same-sex marriage to include poverty, hunger, human rights, and creation care, a new name for environmentalism. It's a way, democrats hope, to get in the door with religious voters and entice them to listen.
AMY WALTER, COCK POLITICAL REPORT: It's about saying I am not so different from you. I understand where you're coming from. And let's get that out of the way. Say and now let's talk about issues.
ROBERTS: So, does the Democratic Party understand where religious voters are coming from? A Pew poll conducted last year suggests no. Only 29 percent of Americans describe democrats as religion-friendly, compared to 55 percent who thought republicans were. Senator Obama believes his party is beginning to do better, but he warns colleagues, any demonstrations of faith had better be authentic.
OBAMA: The politicians who come and they're clapping kind of off rhythm to the choir. We don't need that.
ROBERTS: Jim Wallis also believes democrats are reconnecting with faith. And while it may not have much impact in this election year, by 2008, Wallis expects healthy competition for values voters.
WALLIS: In 2008, the perception will no longer be that God is a republican.
ROBERTS: A gospel democrats hope leads all the way to the White House. John Roberts, CNN, Washington.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
NGUYEN: And as you know, John Roberts is part of the best political team covering Washington. You can see more of his reports on "THE SITUATION ROOM." Join Wolf Blitzer week day afternoons at 4:00 eastern and again at 7:00 eastern.
HARRIS: The countdown continues, and we're live all morning long as space shuttle "Discovery" prepares for liftoff. So, there's a shot there, live picture.
NGUYEN: See some clouds.
HARRIS: On the launch pad. So, if you have any questions, send them to our space correspondent, Miles O'Brien, there's the address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Well I've got a question, what's an anvil cloud?
NGUYEN: We talked about it a little bit earlier. I'm sure he can give us a -- is he playing with his models again? I'll tell you, that Miles O'Brien. That's what we want to see, it lift off. But we're still waiting. HARRIS: We'll be back in a moment.
NGUYEN: The shuttle commander and pilot there, Mark Kelly. This is what they're facing today. Now we saw where Miles was, no rain, right?
HARRIS: Whoa, yeah.
NGUYEN: But just a few degrees to the left there, you've got Cape Canaveral, and it is raining. So the clouds that we're seeing are producing rain and that's not a very good situation for this launch that is expected today around 3:30.
NGUYEN: We've got lots more questions. We're going to direct some of these to Miles O'Brien, though, because he's the man on scene. Let's start with Ted, Tony. Okay here's what Ted says Miles, "Why is the clock behind Miles so far ahead of the time remaining until launch?"
O'BRIEN: Yeah, it's the old NASA clock confluence, it's a problem with the flux capacitor all that stuff -- no, it is -- there is a series of holds built into any every countdown. As a matter of fact, they'll count down that clock to about three hours and hold it for quite some time. They do that so they have, everybody works better on deadlines. It allows them to sort of keep track of where they are in the countdown. These countdowns start days before shuttle launches, and I'm told it began in the Gemini days, when they were trying to synchronize the launch of two Gemini missions. And that was how they kept things in sync. So they kept the holds because they like them. So the only time that the countdown clock matches the chronological time is inside 9 minutes.
HARRIS: Got you, got you. Okay. I think this is another question that we dealt with a little bit yesterday. This is from Dan who writes oh Miles, "Please explain why shuttle launches are scheduled for afternoon lift-offs. You can set your watch to afternoon thunderstorms in Florida. Why not lift-off in the morning?
O'BRIEN: Great idea! It would be wonderful. Two things to consider here -- post-Columbia, they want to launch by daylight so nighttime launches are out. The next issue that they have to contend with is rendezvousing with the international space station, which flies overhead at 17,500 miles an hour. As I told you yesterday, Tony, what is it? Its quarterback, football, and receiver.
HARRIS: That's right.
O'BRIEN: The football is the shuttle, the receiver is the space station. You've got to time the pass just right.
NGUYEN: Line it up, yeah. It's all about timing. And the timing may not be so good today with the weather outside. We'll keep a watch though Miles, we'll be checking in with you throughout the morning.
HARRIS: And the next hour of CNN SUNDAY MORNING begins in a moment.
NGUYEN: Now in the news, U.S. officials are analyzing a new audio message believed to be from terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden. The speaker issues new threats against Shiites in Iraq and anyone who aids or supports the U.S. and his allies. The speaker also welcomes the man named as successor to Abu Musab al Zarqawi the al Qaeda leader killed in a U.S. air strike last month.
In Iraq at least 13 people were wounded when a car bomb exploded near a police station in Baghdad today. At least two other blasts were reported in the city. Seven people were wounded in those attacks.
An Israeli gunship fires missiles into the Palestinian prime minister's office in Gaza. Ismail Haniyeh wasn't in the building at the time. Israel says security force also do whatever it takes to get Palestinian militants to release an Israeli soldier they abducted last weekend.
HARRIS: U.S.-led forces bombed Taliban insurgents today in southern Afghanistan that is according to various news reports which CNN is working to confirm right now. Two British soldiers were killed in a militant attack in Helmand province last night. An Afghan interrupter also died, the U.S. coalition in Afghanistan is currently involved in two major operations targeting Taliban insurgents.
Iran is ready to talk about a nuclear incentives package. That is the word from the country's foreign ministry. Iran's top nuclear negotiator is said to meet with the European policy chief next week, the location is still being worked out. Tehran says it will be next month before the government has any official reaction to the incentives package.
New Jersey's government shut down crisis is in its second day. Later this morning lawmakers will meet to try to reach a compromise on a spending plan. Governor John Corzine shut down nonessential state services after the legislature failed to adopt a budget by Friday's midnight deadline.
For complete coverage of breaking news and today's top stories stay with CNN, the most trusted name in news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dynamic day and I think we're playing it too close here. We've got anvils within 20 miles over the launch trajectory, not a good day to launch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Well that that was yesterday and today NASA will try again to get "Discovery" off the ground. The sticking point though same as yesterday, the weather.
From the CNN Center this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING, it is July 2nd, a holiday weekend, 8:00 am at CNN headquarters right here in Atlanta. Take a look at this at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; we are 7 hours and 23 minutes away from a possible launch. We'll see if it gets off the ground.
Good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.
HARRIS: Cross your fingers, elbows, and toes.
NGUYEN: We crossed it all yesterday and it didn't help.
HARRIS: We'll do it again today. I'm Tony Harris, good morning everyone. Thanks for being with us. Standing by live for us at the Kennedy Space Center is our Miles O'Brien, Miles good morning.
O'BRIEN: Good morning to you. Shaping up to be kind of and an identical day here, as we watch the weather and watch the countdown. In just a few moments we'll talk to the identical twin who happens to be an astronaut as well who is on board the "Discovery" team, that's coming up in a little bit. Back to you guys.
HARRIS: OK Miles thank you, appreciate it.
NGUYEN: Well we know a lot of you have questions about the space program in general and this mission in particular. No journalist is more uniquely qualified to answer those questions than our very own Miles O'Brien. So you can shoot off an e-mail to Miles and he'll answer your questions. The address WEEKENDS@CNN.com. Send them in.
HARRIS: We've got live reports about the shuttle all day long, plus stories from all over the world this half hour. Nic Robertson is live in Baghdad with the latest on a new audio message believed to be from Osama Bin Laden.
NGUYEN: Our Paula Hancocks is in Gaza where Israeli gun ships attacked the Palestinian prime minister's office today.
And Suzanne Malveaux is at the White House with reaction to all of the developments in the Mideast.
HARRIS: But first, let's head to Baghdad and find out more about that new audio message. Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is there. Nic, I am struck in this tape, reportedly from Osama Bin Laden and the call for attacks on Shiites in essence, which you have here is a call for Muslims to attack Muslims.
ROBERTSON: This is a real departure for Osama Bin Laden. We've heard him criticize Abu Musab al Zarqawi who was killed three weeks ago, criticize him for doing just that and Bin Laden's last audio message a few days ago he called Abu Musab al Zarqawi a hero. Now, he is saying by default, through his direct criticism of the Shia-led governments here so far that they are the reason that 40,000 people Sunnis he implies have been killed here and he threw his words, opens the door here for insurgents to target Shias in their attacks. He also tackles the issue of the insurgency in Iraq in a complex way but he gets to the heart, if you will, of what divides people in this country and that is the issue of what's viewed by people here, many people here, as the United States occupation in Iraq. Here, he says that anyone who supports the United States in this occupation should be attacked, that is, the fledgling government here.
He says all of those previous prime ministers here who have promised you get into the political process and the U.S. military will leave the country, he says, look at them. The past Prime Minister, even al Jaafari, the one before have all failed. This prime minister will fail you so go ahead and attack. That's his message here, Tony.
HARRIS: Calling Nic for a full-blown, all-out civil war.
ROBERTSON: That seems to be the implication. Of course, Bin Laden's aim, principal aim here is to target the United States and U.S. plans around the world, and that's what he appears to be doing with his latest message is focusing down on Iraq, in detail and that appears to be the thrust and that's perhaps what makes this particular message a very interesting, at the very least, departure from his norm of talking about the global jihad in different parts of the world, very specific on Iraq, very specifically aimed at targeting U.S. troops.
HARRIS: Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson in Baghdad for us, Nic appreciate it, thank you as always.
Will al Qaeda pull Iraq apart today? Today at 1:00 p.m. Eastern we'll have analysis from around the world with John Roberts and his team, "IRAQ A WEEK AT WAR" only on CNN the most trusted name in news.
NGUYEN: Now it is to Gaza where the standoff over an Israeli soldier abducted by Palestinian militants is intensifying. Today Israeli missiles slam into the Palestinian prime ministers office. Our Paula Hancocks joins us live with the latest on that. Paula, what do you know?
HANCOCKS: It's exactly a week before the young soldier was kidnapped by Palestinian militants. In the past hour we saw the Palestinian president and the prime minister meeting to discuss the situation and to find out if there was a diplomatic avenue to secure the safe release of this soldier. President Mahmoud Abbas arrived at the offices of the Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, which had been hit by a missile from Israeli strikes in the early hours of Sunday, now Haniyeh has gone to his offices just after that strike to assess the damage, he was very unimpressed with the Israeli tactics, saying it was a political decision to target him, saying they were trying to target the symbol of the Palestinian people.
Now also at the weekly cabinet meeting for Israel, the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert saying that he's given the go-ahead for the Israeli defense forces to do whatever is necessary to make sure that this soldier is released. This air strike on the offices of the prime minister actually just came hours after President Mahmoud Abbas had sounded quite hopeful about the diplomatic breakthroughs. The talks are ongoing behind the scenes. As that happens, there is still shelling from Israeli air force by land and by sea on southern Gaza. (INAUDIBLE) About five days ago a Hamas leader, a Hamas militant I'm sorry was killed in an Israeli air strike in a refugee camp in the north.
NGUYEN: Paula, let me ask you this, the Israeli prime minister has urged that its forces do all that is necessary to find this missing soldier. Is there any indication that this soldier is indeed still alive?
HANCOCKS: Well, there have been conflicting reports over the past couple of days. Saturday we did hear from a deputy minister of Hamas, saying that the soldier was still alive and being treated for shrapnel wounds. But reports since then in both the Israeli and Palestinian media have thrown out the validity of that report. So it is uncertain at the moment. We do know that that diplomatic avenues are still being pursued and mediators still here Gaza trying to sort out a peaceful resolution.
NGUYEN: Paula Hancocks thank you for that. To our viewers we apologize for the poor audio quality. That is coming to us via broadband.
HARRIS: And now to the White House for reaction to everything that's going on in the Mid East region. Suzanne Malveaux joins us with that part of the story. Betty we haven't talked to Suzanne in awhile now.
NGUYEN: Hey there Suzanne.
HARRIS: Suzanne good morning to you. Why don't we start with the new audio message that seems like a decent place to start?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well certainly, White House officials are reacting too much of the developments in the Middle East. They are watching them very, very closely, a White House official saying of course they've got to make sure that tape is authentic. But assuming that it is, they say that this justifies simply showing that Bin Laden and al Qaeda they say continue to use the media to express this kind of dark vision and the White House putting out this statement yesterday saying that these terrorists offer nothing in their ideology and message beyond further fighting, further conflict and misery.
Osama Bin Laden again wants to sow divisions and chaos in Iraq in the Muslim world and it goes on to say the Iraqi people and the international community will continue to tell these enemies of humanity that their dark vision and atrocities are unwelcome interventions. As you know this comes at a time when the administration is trying to convince Americans that the Iraqis are taking control of their future, that obviously that eventually this is going to be something that is a peaceful situation and it also comes at a time, you have to remember here, that it has been years since they've managed to track Osama Bin Laden. And U.S. intelligence officials believe that he is in Pakistan, in an area that is difficult to reach, that there are many people who are sympathetic still to his cause and they also acknowledge here that they're changing tactics, making it harder to track down Osama Bin Laden through these tapes, because now, it's through the Internet and not through these Arabic language television stations like Al Jazeera.
HARRIS: OK. Suzanne Malveaux at the White House, good to see you Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Good to see you, too.
HARRIS: Have a great Sunday. For complete coverage of breaking news and today's top stories stay with CNN the most trusted names in news.
NGUYEN: A lift off or yet another no-go? That is the question NASA is facing today. Miles joins us, he is there waiting for this thing to life off, as long as this takes huh Miles?
O'BRIEN: I'll be here until they go, sometimes you have to wait a long time, 70 percent no-go is the weather forecast, but hey that means it's a one and three chance they will fly. That will put new the hall of fame for baseball. We are going to talk to the twin brother of the pilot, Mark Kelly in just a moment. Stay with us.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tired of the same old boring workout on the treadmill? Now you can spice it up by stepping it up, sprinting up hills, walking or running on flat roads. Tread rides is an aerobic class on treadmills.
JENNIFER RENFROE, CRUNCH FITNESS DIRECTOR: It is all set to music so we run hills, flat roads, and change the incline and change the pace and it is a great cardiovascular workout in about 45 minutes.
COSTELLO: She says people who work out regularly on the treadmill may not be working out at the intensity they need to burn the most the calories during their workout. This class is designed to amp up the intensity level.
LYDIA O'BERRY, TREAD RIDER: You know how your clothes fit better, you feel better about yourself. You can go home and eat a Snickers bar.
MARGO GREGORY, TREAD RIDER: I thought it was awesome. It was my first time taking the class and I thought it was an awesome workout. I'm actually a runner so this will be a great cross-training tool for me.
COSTELLO: Jennifer says you could make the class tougher by adding a four to 16-pound weighted vest but that is optional. The best part is you'll burn anywhere from 400 to 700 calories per hour.
Carol Costello, CNN.
NGUYEN: Well, as you are about to see here on this live picture we are on shuttle watch once again today. Thunderstorms near the Kennedy Space Center forced NASA to call off yesterday's launch of the space shuttle "Discovery." So NASA is going to give it another try this afternoon. Today's target time is 3:26 Eastern but you see those clouds they have rolled in.
CNN's Miles O'Brien is at Kennedy Space Center and he is joined by astronaut Scott Kelly whose twin brother is on the shuttle mission and really Miles it highlights the fact that this waiting game is often a family affair.
O'BRIEN: A family affair indeed. Yes, a family affair with an astronaut tie-in. They were suited up with no place to go yesterday. Instead of orbiting the Earth several times by now they went to the crew quarters just a few miles away. A little bit of a letdown but that's part of the game.
Let's talk to Scott Kelly about that. Your twin brother, Mark is the pilot. You actually were there in the suit-up room which is kind of fun to, you know, keep it loose with him I assume you were ribbing him a little bit as twins do. What was the mood before they went to the shuttle, were they pretty optimistic they were going to fly?
SCOTT KELLY, ASTRONAUT: Yes I think they were optimistic. You always want to go into a shuttle launch like this with the attitude that you're going to launch, and you know, regardless of what the weather may be and they felt pretty good when they got back as well. They understand that weather is something we can't control.
O'BRIEN: So they weren't down at all? I imagine it's a bit of a letdown. First of all, you see them getting suited up with the uncomfortable suit, on your back. It's a bit of a drain, isn't it?
KELLY: Certainly you're tired. It is a long day. They get up early and on their backs for a long time in the orbiter, which can be uncomfortable. Of course you don't look forward to having that same day again but you understand why, you know you didn't go.
O'BRIEN: Let's put this in perspective for people. He's been a part of this mission now for what, two years is that right?
KELLY: I think it's been more.
O'BRIEN: It is even longer than two years so that is typical in this case to go through training, training, training, in a way it becomes just another simulator day in a sense but it is game day, isn't it? KELLY: Oh certainly. I mean you're excited; you're ready to go. You've trained, in some cases your whole life for this, if it's your first shuttle launch so it's pretty exciting day.
O'BRIEN: Tell us a little bit about, you've had an experience as well, do you spend the evening on the phone talking to family, checking e-mails? You were over there talking to him or you just want to be quiet and get some rest?
KELLY: You know its funny the first thing that comes to your mind when you scrub is really not yourself. It's all your guests that come here, and are spending time and money to be at this launch and your concern is really for how they're doing and who has to go home, who is staying. Probably the wrong concern but I think its just human nature, to worry about your family and friends.
O'BRIEN: It's kind of like staging a wedding but you don't know when the wedding is going to happen because everybody who is important in your life comes down typically. Have you done a head count of the Kelly clan and friends that are here?
KELLY: You know it is -- there's probably 200 or 300 people. It's like staging a wedding but a wedding that you're not going to attend so you never actually get to see all of these guests.
O'BRIEN: You miss all the parties and everybody's mad when it gets delayed but in any case they'll be happy if everything works out today. At this point if it doesn't work out today they'll probably take a couple of days rest, Fourth of July, not a bad way to spend the holiday with the Kelly family.
KELLY: Well I think for everyone involved, I can't remember a shuttle launch we've had on the fourth of July so what a better way to celebrate our freedom on the fourth of July with a space shuttle launch but hopefully we'll get off today.
O'BRIEN: Hopefully they'll be in space. Scott Kelly good luck. I assume we'll look for you later for today, for day two. Back to you guys in Atlanta.
NGUYEN: All right. Thank you, Miles. And you do want to stay with CNN all day long for coverage of the space shuttle launch leading up to a 3:00 p.m. Eastern special, live show hosted by none else than space correspondent Miles O'Brien.
Do you have questions about the space program in general, and the "Discovery" mission in particular? I know you do. So you still have some time to shoot off an e-mail to us with your question and we'll pass it along to our Miles O'Brien at the Kennedy Space Center. You are going to ask him and he is going to answer. Send those questions in, WEEKENDS@CNN.com. We will be right back.
HARRIS: Miles O'Brien on task. I like that.
NGUYEN: With the answers.
HARRIS: With answers to your e-mail questions about the shuttle program, whatever the question, send it to us, WEEKENDS@CNN.com and we'll fire it down to Cape Canaveral to the Kennedy Space Center and to Miles.
NGUYEN: Miles, we already have a question for you in fact. Larry Burnett from Tuscaloosa has a really good question. Here it is, "The "Endeavor" is a decade newer than the "Discovery," and has several features that were considered to be upgrades from the old design. Why is it not being used today instead of the oldest vehicle in the fleet?"
O'BRIEN: Excellent question, Larry. "Endeavor" was the orbiter that was built to replace "Challenger" and is the newest in the fleet and least flown, "Discovery" on it's 32nd flight, has 32nd flights under it's belt, is the most flown but a couple of things. First of all, "Discovery" just came out of a huge maintenance period where a lot of those upgrades that were incorporated into "Endeavor" are now a part of "Discovery" and meanwhile "Endeavor" is in the midst of its maintenance period where they just rip it apart and redo the entire thing. So new and old is kind of a relative term in this business, 32 flights on the odometer so to speak but the way they take care and baby these spacecrafts, it's hard to say it's any better or worse to fly one of the other.
NGUYEN: There you go, see Miles O'Brien knows, the man knows. Thank you, Miles.
HARRIS: We just need more time for the email questions.
NGUYEN: Of course we had many other questions for you, so be on stand-by.
Remember playing the game tag with your friends during recess? Maybe you got a little boo-boo? Maybe a scrap or a bruise? I like that better than boo-boo, once in a while? But hey sure it is fun, right? Now that game is really over for some kids. Yep, no more tag during recess. A growing number of publics schools, why? We have a full discussion right here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, where hard news starts here.
HARRIS: But first, "House Call" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, today's topic, wounded warriors. "House Call" is next.
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