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Minnesota Imposes Curfew To Reduce Potential Riots; Minnesota Authorities State Agitators From Out Of State Joining Riots; National Guard Mobilized To Combat Riots In Minnesota; U.S. Attorney General William Barr Speaks About Riots In Wake Of Death Of George Floyd; Law Enforcement Officer Shot And Killed During Riots In Oakland, California; CNN Center Building In Atlanta Damaged By Demonstrators. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 30, 2020 - 14:00   ET

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


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[14:00:14]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman in New York. This is CNN's special live coverage. We are witnessing a national moment, a national moment of pain, anger, and frustration. I want to show you live pictures from Newark, New Jersey. This is a protest happening right now, looks to be thousands of people out on the streets, again, not at all social distanced, after a tumultuous night in America.

Today at least 30 cities are cleaning up after this night of protests. Some were peaceful. Other protests started that way but then turned violent. Buildings were vandalized, fires set, police cars smashed, officers were attacked. Hundreds were arrested. At one point even the CNN World Headquarters building in Atlanta was damaged by protesters as our crews in the building continue to broadcast what was happening there and around the country.

And there are more demonstrations scheduled for today, a response to the story that has dominated the news for days now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe. Please, your knee on my neck. I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't move.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: This is the source of the pain and the anger and frustration -- the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who lost his life after a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. The criminal complaint says Floyd was unresponsive for two minutes and 53 seconds of that time. Think of that. It's possible he was dead for two minutes with a knee on his neck.

That officer has now been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but activists and protesters are saying that arrest isn't enough, and they're demanding all of the officers involved now be charged.

We want to begin our coverage live in Minneapolis now, the city where George Floyd died. CNN's Omar Jimenez is there. And Omar, the governor has announced a full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard. What exactly does that mean, and what's the latest on the ground there?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for starters, it means they are going to make as large an effort as possible to quell some of the violence and looting in some cases that we have seen unfold over the course of just the past three days. I remember yesterday Governor Walz had described the previous two days as 48 hours of anarchy. That was ahead of them announcing an 8:00 p.m. curfew here to try and quell some of what did not end up stopping what we saw last night.

And you see some of that evidence behind me where you see people still out and about and trying to clean up their community, actually. But it's also coming with the backdrop of buildings that are still smoldering from the night before. Similar scenes to what we've woken up to, again, over the course of just the past two days alone. And while we are deploying, or while the city and state are deploying more resources, you see the community coming out in droves to try and clean up their own places.

And that also points to what we heard a lot from officials here across the state, saying that there are outside elements coming in here that are messing with the righteous anger in regards to that cellphone video of George Floyd that you played a few moments ago. The Mayor of St. Paul Melvin Carter specifically said every single person that was arrested over the course of Friday was from someone out of state. And here is what he has to say about the current situation we're in.

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MAYOR MELVIN CARTER, SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA: That frustration, that pain, is real, and it's legitimate. And to all of the people in our community who believe what I just said, who wholeheartedly need the world to hear that Mr. Floyd should be alive, that someone should be held accountable, and that we as a community, we as a culture, we as a society must do everything we can imagine to keep this from happening again, we stand with you. I stand with you.

Unfortunately, there are also those among us who would seek to use this moment, who would seek to use his death as an excuse, as a cover to agitate for the destruction of those same communities that have been most traumatized by George Floyd's death. (END VIDEO CLIP)

JIMENEZ: And the Mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey says the story over the past few days as far as nighttime rioting and protests is simple. It comes down to simple math in his words. So they are hoping to even the odds a little bit more tonight so that Governor Walz 48 hours of anarchy don't continue even more than it already has, John.

BERMAN: Omar Jimenez in Minnesota. Omar, I have to say, that scene that you are standing in front of right now, that burned out shell of a building, reminds me of buildings I stood in front of in Baghdad, bombed out buildings there. It is an eerie sight to see in the United States of America.

[14:05:09]

Terrific reporting, Omar. Please stand by, keep us posted as more develops.

We're going to go to Washington right now. Attorney General William Barr making a statement.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Accountability for his death must be addressed and is being addressed through the regular process of our criminal justice system, both at the state and at the federal level. That system is working and moving at exceptional speed. Already initial charges have been filed by the state. That process continues to move forward, and justice will be served.

Unfortunately, with the rioting that is occurring in many of our cities around the country, the voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements. Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda. In many places it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by anarchic and left extremist groups, far left extremist groups, using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom traveled from outside the state to promote the violence.

We must have law and order on our streets and in our communities, and it is the responsibility of the local and state leadership in the first instance to halt this violence. The Department of Justice, including the FBI, the U.S. Marshals, the ATF, the DEA, and our 93 United States attorneys' office -- U.S. attorneys' offices around the country, are supporting these local efforts, will continue to support them, and take all action necessary to enforce federal law.

In that regard, it is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting, and we will enforce those laws.

Thank you.

BERMAN: A statement from the attorney general of the United States William Barr, taking no questions there, saying that the investigation into the officers who were there when George Floyd died is continuing at the normal pace. He was saying that obviously state charges have been filed, and the federal investigation continues.

He went on to say, however, that he believes that outside forces in some of these states and cities where we've seen protests are fueling the fires of these protests. He also said it is the responsibility of state and local governments to keep law and order, which is a phrase that has been something of a buzz phrase over the years.

I want to bring in Josh Campbell, who is on the streets in Minneapolis. Josh, it was interesting to hear from the attorney general, and I just want to note so people know some of the context here with William Barr, the Justice Department, the Trump Justice Department has backed off some of the consent decrees in cities where there were policing issues, which means less federal oversight of these police departments where racial injustice was seen to be a problem.

And the attorney general has also suggested that in cities and states where issues surrounding policing are questioned, that maybe law enforcement will not be applied quite as diligently. So it was interesting to hear him talk today.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly was. And we've been wondering what the U.S. government, the federal side, would be saying as this continues, particularly about some of the violence that we've seen from certain protesters, certainly not all of them. We've covered a number of peaceful protests, but some have certainly turned violent in the past couple days. We've seen pictures of destruction.

The question is now, at least what I took away out of that press conference, is when the attorney general says that these are leftist groups, that appears to contradict some piece of information that we got from state officials here who said that their investigation indicates that at least some of those who are trying to incite people online are white supremacists, which are not leftwing groups. And so there is a disparity there. The attorney general didn't offer any additional details on what the investigations have found so far, so that will be critical.

And as you know, the Department of Justice is a political entity. The attorney general is a political appointee, and especially this attorney general has been closer to the White House than many attorneys general in the past few decades.

[14:10:02]

So that is interesting to note looking through that lens. Is there a political tinge to this? I think the answer to that is going to come from the department itself, perhaps from the FBI, the agency, the investigative agency that would be looking into violations of interstate law as Barr mentioned there. But again, at least what we heard from the A.G. about leftist groups doesn't seem to square with what we're hearing from the state officials about what they are seeing, John.

BERMAN: And I have to say, Josh, having covered many of these protests, demonstrations, even violence before, you often hear that the violence and the worst aspects are caused by outside agitators. And yes, I know that people do come from other areas and have proven to come from other areas in many of these instances.

But it is also politically convenient for everyone involved when they are not local people expressing local pain and local anger. So I just want to know what you have seen with your own eyes. Is there a way to discern where these people are from?

CAMPBELL: It is very interesting you say that. I was just talking with our producer Erin (ph) about this same topic, and that is if you are an elected official in an area, a state, a city, a county, and you have widespread destruction, and you've already been criticized with state officials here have been criticized for their initial response to some of this destruction, it is, as you mentioned, potentially convenient to say, well, it is other people.

What is so fascinating is we are on the ground talking with citizens. We've been doing reporting on people who are out cleaning up. John, people are coming up to us. They know we're reporters, and they're saying, hey, have you heard that these are outside groups? These are not Minnesotans. These are outside people. We want you to know that.

The question is, where is that information coming from? Are we talking about a circle, a feedback loop here of information that comes from state officials and to the citizens, or are they themselves seeing it as they go to some of these protests? That we don't know. It's going to be difficult to prove that negative.

I can tell you there was a large protest that was here earlier. It has now since dispersed. But police officers are now preparing. You can see we're across from the Fifth Precinct here not far from where Mr. Floyd was killed. And police officers have set up Jersey barriers. They've set up fencing.

You see officers on the roof right now, which is so unusual for a police department like this. They're looking forage agitators regardless of where they're coming from, whether they're local, whether they're from out of state, they want to be ready for what's about to happen.

We don't have the answer to the question, John, about whether these calls for an increased presence by National Guard, whether the curfew here is actually going to impact people and cause them to stay home. We'll have to wait and see.

BERMAN: All right, Josh, thank you very much for being with us, thank you for your reporting, thank you for asking the questions to the people you see on the ground there. That is what is so important. Appreciate it.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, thousands of protesters filled the streets overnight. In Oakland two law enforcement officers were shot at the downtown federal building, and we have learned today that one of them has died. CNN's Dan Simon joins me now. And Dan, what do we know about this tragedy on top of tragedy? DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey, John. It was a very ugly

scene in Oakland, California last night, just like we have seen in cities throughout the country. This started out as a peaceful assembly. Oakland police say you had more than 7,000 people protesting, and within that group you did have obviously several dozen people if not hundreds of people that engage in criminal acts. We saw the spray painting of buildings. We saw the looting of businesses, smashing windows, etcetera.

And then at around 9:45, according to the FBI, a vehicle pulled up in front of the federal building in downtown Oakland. Somebody in that car started opening fire at two contract security guards for the Federal Protective Service, and two people were hit. One of them died. Obviously a very unfortunate situation. We know that police are investigating, and they are bracing for more mayhem tonight on the streets of Oakland.

It's unclear exactly what procedures the department may put in place to thwart a repeat of this violence, but more protesters expected on the streets tonight in the city of Oakland. John?

BERMAN: Dan Simon for us in the Bay Area. Please keep us posted, Dan, if you hear any new developments.

We do have more breaking news for you this afternoon. A potentially historic day for U.S. space flight. NASA at this moment putting the odds at 50/50 that the weather will allow SpaceX to launch next hour with two American astronauts on board, launch from American soil, by the way. We're standing by.

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[14:18:30]

BERMAN: The city of Atlanta is cleaning up this afternoon after some protesters got into tense confrontations with police overnight. They smashed windows, damaged part of the CNN Center building in downtown Atlanta. Cars were set ablaze as well. I want to bring in CNN's Natasha Chen in Atlanta. Natasha, what's the status of the city right now?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, there are a lot of people, like you said, volunteering to clean up, which is very heartening to see. And that includes the area around the entrance of CNN Center here. You can see brand new fencing put up, and there's been a lot of work in power washing and painting over the words that were written on the walls overnight.

And I do want to mention the Atlanta police talked to me about the fact that they have at least four officers who were injured overnight due to those clashes with protesters, that there were multiple shooting incidents with at least one person shot but in stable condition at a hospital.

And Atlanta Fire Department also told me they had to respond to at least 10 locations, in some cases with multiple fires in each of those spots. And according to them, most of those, they are likely intentionally set.

I want to talk to you, though, about the good side of things, the multiple churches that I saw out on the streets this morning talking to me about the fact that some went to the peaceful protests before 5:00 p.m. yesterday and were so disappointed in what they saw on TV at night that they decided to come out and help today. Here's what they said.

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[14:20:02]

G.J. HAWKINS, ATLANTA RESIDENT: We stayed up until it was peaceful. My wife and I actually went back to our home, and we were so excited about what we accomplished today, or yesterday, excuse me. We believed that we really did write history. And we were super excited. And then we turned on the news, and about 30 minutes later started to see riots. We began to get very disappointed. But we don't think those things overshadow all the good that was accomplished.

CHEN: So why are you here today?

HAWKINS: Because we feel like it's our duty as Christ's followers to not only to stand up for justice but to also stand up for our city, and one of the ways that we get to express that is by helping to clean it up and rebuild it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: And there is a crowd gathered right now at the corner of Bicentennial Park, but it doesn't seem like they're doing anything. They're just sort of gathered listening to someone speak. So we are continuing to monitor the situation, but right now, so far today, it's been a lot of people trying to help cleaning up their city, John.

BERMAN: All right, Natasha Chen, please keep us posted in Atlanta. Thank you very much.

A black man dies at the hands of police. Why does this keep happening? And when will it end? Join CNN's Don Lemon for an important conversation, "I Can't Breathe, Black Men Living and Dying in America." That's tomorrow night at 8:00 eastern time.

And coming up, more breaking news, returning manned space flight to the United States. We are standing by. Coming up, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and the youngest man ever to walk on the moon, Charlie Duke, joins me live.

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[14:25:55]

BERMAN: At this moment we are counting down still to a history making launch. In just over an hour SpaceX will launch two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station with founder Elon Musk and President Trump on hand. But the weather does remain a big question mark, with NASA saying right now it's a 50/50 chance the launch could be scrubbed for the second time in three days.

Space fans have been waiting nearly a decade since the retirement of NASA's shuttle program to see astronauts launched from U.S. soil. And of course, this will be on a private rocket. The astronauts onboard, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, they got a send-off from their families, air hugs all around, before getting into these tricked out Teslas to drive over to the launchpad, the same launchpad where Apollo 11 began its journey to the moon in 1969.

As we speak, both men are strapped in, getting settled into the Crew Dragon capsule, performing their final checks. They will be carried into space on a reusable Falcon 9 rocket. You can see it here in animation. If all goes as planned, this will be the first time a commercially built ship has brought humans into orbit.

CNN's Rachel Crane is live at the Kennedy Space Center. Rachel, it's taken incredible patience from you the last few days as we all keep our eye on the weather. The target time for launch is 3:22 p.m., and there really isn't any wiggle room. Why?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. It's what they call an instantaneous launch window, meaning it has to happen at the exact right time down to the second or it doesn't happen at all.

And that's because this launch isn't just about getting Bob and Doug off of planet earth. It's about their destination, getting them to the International Space Station. So a very specific flight path has been calculated in order to ensure that that rendezvous occurs.

You have to remember that the International Space Station, it's a moving target. It's moving at 17,500 miles per hour, about 250 miles above earth, so they have to make sure that there is precisely enough fuel to get them there and make sure that that docking occurs.

And you know back in the shuttle days, John, they had a little bit more wiggle room for these launches. They had a window of about 10 minutes. That's because shuttle in terms of mass, it was 10 times bigger. Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon, this is a very efficient system so they don't have the same wiggle room. But that's also why NASA says that it's potentially safer because it is smaller in terms of mass, and also it is just a fraction of the cost.

So everyone here at Kennedy Space Center and really all around the world is crossing their fingers and toes that Mother Nature cooperates, that the vehicle continues to chart in the right direction and stay healthy, and that this historic launch actually takes off today. John?

BERMAN: So these two astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, they are close. They have a lot of connections. Tell us about that.

CRANE: That's right, John. They were in flight school together. They have been friends forever. They say that friendship helps them sort of read each other's minds and their body language in the cockpit. Interestingly enough, they are both married to astronauts, and they were in each other's weddings.

They have children, sons around the same age, so there is a lot of history between the two of them. They've both flown to space twice, but never together. So they're really obviously looking forward to this historic launch and sharing that cockpit.

And interesting to note that Doug Hurley, he actually piloted the last shuttle mission back in 2011. So there is something really poetic to think about the fact that he was in that cockpit for the end of one era of space flight, and hopefully today he will also be in the cockpit for the dawn of a new era of space flight. John?

BERMAN: Absolutely. Look, I love the fact that both of them are married to astronauts as well. Those must be fantastic family cocktail parties. Rachel Crane, keep us posted. We're watching very closely at this point, less than an hour to go.

It is not just about the weather at the launchpad itself. NASA and SpaceX are also watching weather downrange, because if the crew needs suddenly needs to abort the mission, they would splash down in the Atlantic Ocean, and that can't be done safely if there is stormy weather or rough seas. CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is standing by. Where are we right now with the forecast?

[14:30:03]

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, so unfortunately, it's not looking really good at the moment. If they had to launch right now, it would be a no go, and that's because we do have scattered showers and thunderstorms in the vicinity.

There's not a ton of lightning, but I'm sure we all know it only takes one to prevent this from taking place. So again, you can see a lot of those pop-up showers and thunderstorms that are out there. The hope is that they can get that sea breeze to kick these out a little faster and clear the space.

But this isn't the only space, as you mentioned. In fact, they are monitoring the weather across more than 50 locations, stretching from the east coast to the U.S. through Canada all the way up toward Northern Ireland. So it is a pretty wide area.

And some of that does include the open Atlantic Ocean. The concern there is this particular storm. This is a tropical disturbance that we've been monitoring. It has about a 60 percent chance of development into a tropical storm.

Now, no landmass is really in the way of this particular storm. The biggest concern here is, as you mentioned, if they do have to, for some reason, abort this mission, as they go through the abort procedures, where that capsule ends up could be in and around this area. So they also have to monitor these storms that are out over the open Atlantic as well, not just the weather that's at the launch site itself.

However, John, again, looking at the forecast for 3:22 eastern time specifically, it is calling for winds out of the southeast at about 11 miles per hour, and unfortunately, yes, some scattered showers and thunderstorms.

BERMAN: All right, we're watching it very closely. Last time 10 extra minutes would have given them the time they needed, but they just don't have those extra minutes. Allison Chinchar, thank you. I appreciate it. Keep us posted.

Joining me now, we are lucky and honored to have retired astronaut and Brigadier General Charlie Duke. He was part of the Apollo 16 crew in 1972, a mission that made him the youngest person ever to walk on the moon, a record that still holds to this day. General, it really is an honor to speak to you. And, as you know, it's been nine years since NASA retired its shuttle program, nine years since we put a crewed craft into space from U.S. soil. What does it mean to you?

BRIG. GENERAL CHARLIE DUKE (RET), APOLLO 16 ASTRONAUT: Well, it is a great day. I am very excited. Hopefully we get off and the weather will hold off. And this is going to be historic, finally getting a U.S. spacecraft so that we can launch from our property at Kennedy. So I'm excited.

BERMAN: What does it mean to you that it is private, a privately built craft, that it's SpaceX, that it's not a government program this time?

DUKE: Well, I'm excited about privatization of space with SpaceX and Blue Origin and others that are going just gangbusters on it. And so I'm excited about this partnership. And I think it is going to lead to some great things, space tourism in the future, and a lot of other stuff. So I'm very excited about it.

BERMAN: So we're exactly 50, five-zero, minutes to the scheduled launch. Talk to us about what those minutes are like, especially when you know there is a 50 percent chance that the whole mission, or at least the mission for today, might be scrubbed.

DUKE: Well, I'm sure that they just are looking forward to launch. And our thoughts on Apollo were, and I'm sure theirs are the same, is keep counting, keep counting. I'm ready to go.

And we just hope the weather goes off -- I mean, goes away, and they get to go. They're very focused on the procedures. They're listening to what the weather reports are. But I'm sure that their thoughts were like ours were -- keep counting, I'm ready.

BERMAN: We're taking a look right now at the astronauts. And you can see they have these sleek new spacesuits specially designed. We'll tell people about those in a little bit. But another big difference inside is the old capsules and the space shuttle had 2,000 switches and circuit breakers. We have some pictures of those so people can see it. The Crew Dragon has touch screens. This whole flight will be mostly automated. What's the difference there?

DUKE: Well, we were automated, too, on lift-off and through launch, and insertion. Then we could take over manual control. And I have not been in the simulator, so I can't really speak to what the difference is, but it is like a modern airplane, there's touch screens, and they can call up different procedures, different events that they need to accomplish with these touch screens, and just go through their procedures.

BERMAN: We're about 48 minutes now to launch, and as of now we are being told the weather is a go for launch. That could change. That's the way it was the other day as well. That could change. But right now, it's a go. So fingers crossed.

[14:35:09]

One of the things that has been notable with this mission is launching during a pandemic, launching when you're concerned about contagious diseases. If there is anyone on earth who understands the challenges in dealing with maintaining health and quarantine issues preflight, it's you, General. You were part of an historic moment having to do with that in U.S. history. Explain.

DUKE: Well, before our flight -- I was backup on Apollo 13, and about a week or so before the flight I come down with the measles, which are very contagious. And NASA said, oh, no. They checked everybody out and tested everyone, and they all had the measles except for Ken Mattingly, and he was not immune.

So the big debate now with the flight ops and the docks of what are we going to do? So the decision was made to take Mattingly off the flight and substitute Jack Swigert, who I trained with, to substitute in his place. And that happened about a week before launch.

And it was a real tribute to the training that this crew could meld together and still launch on schedule. But as a result of that measles incident, the subsequent Apollo flights all had to go into quarantine three weeks before the flight. We could still train, visit, have some special guests come in, but we were isolated basically for three weeks before we launched.

BERMAN: That is an incredible story. And Ken Mattingly did get to go up with you on Apollo 16, so ultimately it all worked out for both of you.

Charlie Duke, General, thank you very much for being with us. An honor to speak with you. I know you along with us, we have our fingers crossed and we're hoping this launch takes place.

DUKE: I'm looking forward to it. Thank you very much for having me. Have a great day.

BERMAN: You, too.

Coming up, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson joins us live with his thoughts on today's launch. You're looking live now at the arm attached to the capsule, retracting, or about to retract. Don't go anywhere, obviously. We'll bring that in a second.

And we're going to have a look at another famous launch by Elon Musk and his team back in 2018. Musk had his personal Tesla Roadster mounted onto a rocket and launched into space. Starman, a mannequin, dressed in a spacesuit occupies the driver's seat. Much more in just a moment.

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[14:41:58]

BERMAN: All right, this video from moments ago, that is the crew access arm retracting. That is the chute they walk through to get into the capsule itself. That is retracting, one more step till the ultimate launch at 3:22 p.m. eastern time. And we were just told again that as of now, the weather is a go for launch, although there is more than one nervous eye gazing upwards right now at storms in the area.

Joining me now is someone who's made a career of gazing up at the sky, the renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Neil, great to see you. I know you are as anxious as us for what might happen 40 minutes from now. Is this, or how is this a new era in space exploration?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST: First let me say that launches, at least for me, never get old. There is something always just exciting and thrilling about watching us defy Earth's gravity and go someplace other than Earth's surface.

So I want to put this in some context. We've been putting people into orbit for 60 years. So the act of putting human beings into orbit is not itself what the remarkable moment brings us. It's that there is a commercially made, commercially conceived spaceship that NASA has contracted to, to bring astronauts to the International Space Station.

Now, just to be clear, NASA has had relationships with industry ever since the beginning. That is what built this space industrial complex of Lockheed and Martin Marietta and Boeing and Grumman. Grumman, in fact, made the LM that descended to the moon. And in Bethpage, Long Island, right outside of New York City, people still stand tall and walk proud for having had relatives, an aunt, an uncle, who participated in that.

The difference is all of that was specked by NASA, and when it launched it had United States of America and the American flag. What you'll see today is NASA astronauts going up, and it says "SpaceX" down the side of the craft.

BERMAN: I'm with you, by the way, on the issue of always being excited for a launch. And this one looks different. It just does visually look different. The spacesuits are different. The inside of the capsule is different. The rocket, Falcon 9, we're looking at right now looks different. To the larger issue you were talking about, though, I wonder if it is an issue of the dichotomy, if there is one, between the space program, as it were, and the space industry.

TYSON: Yes, so that's a great question. I think we all wanted -- can I speak for everyone, maybe, I think -- we all wanted and expected the commercial dimension of this to have been much larger much earlier, so that we would convert a space program into a space industry that was self-sustaining, and then tax money doesn't then have to support it. [14:45:09]

It would be driven by tourism, by thrill seekers, by asteroid miners, by whatever you can then dream up that people might do and want to make a buck doing by going into space. I don't know how old you are, but I remember when the movie "2001" came out, and they went to their sort of space station, and everything was a commercial product.

There was Howard Johnson's hotels, there was AT&T phone, there was Pan Am, the, of course, now defunct airline, but that's what the shuttle that got them there. I said, wow, I guess if there is going to be a future at all, it kind of has to look like that.

BERMAN: Does this bring us closer to any major goals in your mind? If your goal, for instance, is getting to Mars, and a lot of people have that out there, does this bring us closer to that?

TYSON: Of course. Gen-Ys and Gen-Z-ers are all about Mars, right. And so I'm not as optimistic about that only because you need a damn good reason to drop $1 trillion to get to Mars. And I guess you can get all the rich folks together and they can do it as kind of a one-off, as a test of concept. Sure, I'm all for it if that is what they want to do. But to say we're doing this and now we can sustain a business model for it, I just don't see that happening any time soon.

But I don't want to get in the way of the dreamers, in this case, space dreamers. If people feel and want that to happen, whether or not it does, the act of thinking that way brings other advances to the table that we can all benefit from.

BERMAN: So it's such an interesting day. "Interesting" is not the right word. It's a painful day in this country right now. It's a painful moment in this country right now. Our eyes may be on this rocket, but in some ways our hearts are somewhere else. So I wonder, given that situation right now, what does this represent? What does the shared vision we're looking at right now represent?

TYSON: Yes, it is a great question and an important question. Again, because I am kind of an old fart, and I remember first hand going back into the 1960s. Let's remember the 1960s for a moment. You just had an Apollo astronaut interviewed moments ago. And of course, Apollo went a little bit into the 1970s. I think anyone tracking decades, the 60s didn't end until 1972 or 73, I think we all agree.

(LAUGHTER)

TYSON: But in the 1960s was perhaps the bloodiest decade in America since the Civil War, itself. There was campus unrest and the Civil Rights movement. There was, of course, a hot war in southeast Asia and a cold war with the Soviet Union. So, no. There was not all roses and gardens back then. Yet we were going to the moon.

And so it offered a glimmer of hope for the aspirations of what it is to be human, to realize dreams, to come together, to look beyond this on the hope, I think, that when you look back, that things come across a little different. You'll say, oh, my gosh, I am fighting people, killing people because

you live on some other across the line in the sand, your skin is different, you worship somebody different, and this is a cause for tribalism. And you look back at Earth, that vision of Earth you can't -- you step out of your tribalistic skin and then you see us all as one.

So for me, space brings upon us all a kind of cosmic perspective that ultimately, if it gets down in the engines of what it is that drives civilization, I think it can be transformative to who and what we are to ourselves and to each other.

BERMAN: We're grateful for your cosmic perspective this afternoon, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Thank you for being with us. And I know you along with us are hoping that this launch takes place in about 33 minutes. Thanks so much for being with us.

TYSON: And can I add a quick, think? I know you've got to run. Can I add a quick thing?

BERMAN: Sure.

TYSON: Real quick. Just something to notice in the launch. You think that the rockets would try to get it up into space, but really most of the energy of the rockets is to send it downstream. Most of that energy is to gain orbital speed rather than to go up. It only goes up a couple hundred miles. Just little things to watch as the rocket launches. It quickly starts going horizontal, hence the drop-off points in the Atlantic as it moves along its way.

BERMAN: I'll add you to the list of people, including my father, who make me feel guilty for not paying closer attention in physics.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Neil deGrasse Tyson, thank you for being with us. I really mean that.

[14:50:00]

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: You're looking at live pictures right now of the Crew Dragon capsule sitting on top of Falcon 9 rocket. And if everything goes according to plan, in 28 minutes it will lift off to the International Space Station.

And one bit of news, maybe good news, if you're hoping for a launch today, NASA just told the astronauts onboard there is a 70 percent chance, a 70 percent chance of favorable weather at this point. So it's looking better than it did on Wednesday so far.

[14:55:00] Now if you're going to boldly go where no person has gone before, you might as well do it in style. The spacesuits for today's launch look very different than anything we've seen before. That's because the prototype was created by Jose Fernandez, a costume designer who worked on "Batman Versus Superman," "The Fantastic Four," and "The Avengers."

Fernandez told "BLEEP" magazine back in 2016 that during the design process Elon Musk kept saying anyone looks better in a tux no matter what size or shape they are. And that was the goal, to have the astronauts put the suit on and look better than they did without it, like a tux. This was the end result. We'll let you be the judge.

We'll be right back.

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