tv CNN Newsroom With Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto CNN October 13, 2021 6:00am-7:00am PDT
minutes in space. you'll be watching it very closely. adrian zmed, thank you very much. >> i am thrilled. thank you. thank you for having me. and the launch of this spaceship with william shatner on board is just one hour away. you're looking at live pictures. cnn's coverage continues now. very good space age wednesday morning to you. i'm jim sciutto. >> and i'm erica hill. planted firmly on earth. we're going to have to stay on earth, but pretty soon going boldly where no 90-year-old has gone before, one william shatner one hour from now. the legendary actor known for his role as "star trek 's" captain kirk set to make history on the "new shepard" rocket. shatner will become the oldest person to travel to the edge of space. >> while we wait for our own
invitations, moments ago shatner and his three crewmates arrived at the site from a remote stretch in west texas where the launches come from, originally scheduled on tuesday, postponed a day due to dangerous rough winds. the 90-year-old shatner tells anderson cooper ahead of the launch, he's understandably anxious before hurdling into space at three times the speed of sound. that's more than 2200 miles an hour. and he'll go 62 miles above the earth. have a listen. >> my fear is as you go up, that you can't draw a breath. that apparently is not going to happen. that's what they say. i'm quite apprehensive as you might have guessed. >> the power of g forces. today will mark blue origin, the private space flight company, founded by amazon founder jeff bezos. the second launch of an all civilian crew. bezos and his brother and two
others took blue origin's inaugural flight less than three months ago. we broadcast that live as well. cnn's space and defense correspondent kristen fisher is at the launch site in van horn, texas. after 24 hour delay, we're minutes away from a new scheduled time. are conditions there, kristen, favorable for the launch today? >> reporter: it is a little chilly, but not a lot of wind, which is exactly the thing that has caused those two delays up until this point. but as of now, all systems are go and, you know, jeff bezos has been a fan of "star trek" since he was a kid. it is part of the reason he became so interested in space. it is part of the reason that he ultimately founded this company, blue origin. and so it is quite fitting that he is getting able to -- he's able to send his childhood hero into space on his company's second crude launch. what we're going to see here today is very similar to what we saw when jeff bezos himself launched into space, back in july. this is a quick suborbital trip,
ten minutes long from start to finish, about four minutes of weightlessness, but this crew of four people, they will indeed cross the carmen line, the historical marker, the defining line between the boundary of space and earth's atmosphere. and so they are going to cross that line, but they're in the going to go fully into orbit, which is what we saw spacex's mission do. it is incredible to think about the fact that we have had six crude launches from u.s. soil in just six months after nearly a decade of zero human space flights from u.s. soil. and so one of the other crew members on this mission, glen de vries, he says that 2021, this year, is going to go down in history as the moment when humanity finally began moving into space at scale. and we're still quite a few ways at the very beginning of that, a
little ways away from that, he believes this is going to be the beginning and so glen de vries, he's one of those two paying customers on board this flight, along with a blue origin employee, audrey powers. but william shatner the big star today. >> he certainly is. a lot of the attention having that big name. no surprise why they invited him on board. kristin fisher, appreciate it. joining us to discuss, miles o'brien, cnn aviation and aerospace analyst and award winning science journalist. good to see you as always. as we look at this and where we are right now, put all the controversy aside for the moment, how important are these launches, are these efforts when it comes to not only space exploration, but also just the knowledge that can be gained from these efforts? >> yeah, you know, erica, it is really about easy and relatively cheap access to space.
i think people see the billionaires, you know, with their bragging rights and trash talking each other about who is first with what, and the spectacle of bringing william shatner on board adds to the whole kind of circus-like atmosphere. and i think those of us who appreciate the value that space brings our planet kind of have to hold our nose a little bit and get through all this, because this is how it begins. you start with the rich people and the famous people and then as time goes on, and you become better and doing this more frequently, the price goes down. and more of us get a chance to be there. that doesn't just mean tourism, it means ubiquitous sensors that can track climate change or look outward for an asteroid that might be headed our way. and if you think that's not a problem, ask the next dinosaur you run into. so we need to think about space as a tool for our planet. and believe it or not, sending william shatner into space does
help that. that is one step along the way. >> we're looking at live pictures there about 54 minutes away from the launch, launch site one in west texas. miles, you made the point before on this broadcast when we were covering the last blue origin launch that that's actually the way commercial air travel began, right? as the denizen of the very wealthy. over time it became something that all of us had access to. this is still a very tiny group of folks who can even think about the cost of this, and by the way, there is pictures of shatner and his fellow crewmates, again, less than an hour before they march into that capsule atop the rocket there. how long is it before this is something that it comes down in price to something that is successful. is that years, is it decades? >> yeah, it is really hard to see that date right now. this is still expensive stuff. and you're right, relative to the income getting on a ford
trimotor in the '20s is not the same as these in some cases multimillion dollar seats on orbital flights. but it will get better, and it will get cheaper as time goes on. and you have to think about the ancillary aspects which don't involve putting tourists into space, which is they -- the more eefficient rockets, the fact you can make payloads smaller and more ubiquitous in space, to look at trends and to avoid space junk and other spacecraft, the thing about airline travel is people needed to get to cleveland. do we need to go to space? right now that's kind of like going to mt. everest, the ultimate bragging right and that will build a business for a little while and making that transition into something more widespread is tricky. >> yeah. it is interesting, chris
boshuizen, one of the folks going up today, the one with his back turned to us now, he told us earlier this week and i talked a lot about this, this was his dream from the time he was 4 years old, he was color blind, couldn't work, he's dedicated the significant portion of his life to not only, you know, technology and engineering and if he worked at nasa, but really to engaging kids and getting kids excited about s.t.e.m. and i'm thinking, that too could really come out of this. it is not just the people going up in the rockets, right who are involved, but there are so many other positions that kids watching today could maybe think about and how they could get engaged, miles. >> yeah, go back to the first space race. look at what happened immediately after sputnik in 1957. about a billion dollars which at the time was a big deal spent on education across this nation to inspire young people to seek jobs in science and engineering. only a tiny fraction of those
young people ended up going to space, but it created industries, not just right at nasa, but ancillary industries which we don't have time to even list by even a long shot here. so the fact that it inspires young people to seek careers in this business, that it is cool to go to work for blue origin or spacex, that idea is important and it is really hard to put that piece of it in the bottom line. it is never really tracked, but we know for a fact, you talked to a lot of the people, the engineers, you talk to the astronauts, what were they inspired by. they were inspired in my generation by apollo and today young people are looking at these now -- these 20 somethings who are aging these missions and saying i want to be a part of that as well. and that's a nice ancillary benefit to say the least. >> no question. question for you, miles o'brien, are they astronauts? they're going the edge of space,
62 miles above the earth, not into orbit, not in control of anything here, not flying the ship. that said, going back to the mercury astronauts, discussion at the time, right, they weren't flying those rockets either, do you call them astronauts? >> i'm a little bit of a purist on this, jim. i think just because i sit in -- even if i get an upgrade to first class on delta, i'm not the pilot. so even though i am a pilot. so i think, you know, as shatner said the other day, i'm here for some rehearsals and anderson cooper corrected him and said that's training. that should tell you a little bit, if he doesn't know it is training, maybe he's not an astronaut officially, right? >> understood. >> he thinks he's an astronaut, little a, followed by two ss. that's the way shatner answered the question. i'll let you sit with that, miles. >> i listened. i wouldn't turn down the invitation, regardless of the definition.
maybe you as well. miles, i know you -- there was a time when you prior of course to the columbia tragedy who had a chance to go up to space too. miles, please stay with us. a lot more to discuss again. you're looking at the live picture there, less than 50 minutes before the rocket takes off. there is other news that we are following this hour. it is good news for fully vaccinated travelers. the u.s. is preparing to reopen its borders to visitors from canada and mexico early next month. >> this comes of course as the numbers, the case numbers in this country continue to improve. look at that map there. so much green, which is nice to see. 44 states showing that their seven day average of new cases is either holding steady or as you see in green on the decline. joining us now, priscilla alvarez with more on this announcement. a long awaited decision for travelers here. what is the actual timeline? >> the actual timeline is early november. so we're only weeks away. this is a monumental change for border communities would rely on
cross border travel. and it is going to happen in a phased way. so officials say that starting in early november, fully vaccinated foreign visitors that will be allowed to travel across land borders with canada and mexico for nonessential reasons. that is visiting family or friends or coming by for tourism. and in early january, those who are traveling for essential purposes will also have to meet the vaccine requirements, for cross border trade, which has been allowed to continue over the course of the pandemic. officials also said that they are waiting for a decision from the cdc on which vaccines will be accepted. though they anticipate that fda and who authorized the vaccines will be allowed. >> we'll be watching. good news to the travelers, also the airlines and others who might be carrying them. thanks so much. >> great news for a lot of families. airlines, dell computers, a few of the companies who said
they plan to defy texas governor greg abbott's new ban on vaccine mandates. >> one thing we hear consistently, some companies welcome these mandates. cnn chief business correspondent christine romans joins us now with more. we have spoken about this, right, quietly before the biden administration imposed these new mandates, the companies were saying, please do go ahead, this helps us out here. we're seeing this play out in public now in texas. >> and the federal mandate really gave some of these big companies cover, right? so they could move forward, and cut their healthcare costs and cut truancy and cut all these, you know, people being out of work because of covid related issues. this was something that big business really wanted and now you have the governor of texas essentially creating confusion with his own mandate at odds with the federal mandate. this is what businesses did not want to be in -- they did not want to be in this position at all. it is also a little bit interesting and this is something you heard from a lot of business leaders, they have been told again and again that texas is a pro business state,
now you have the governor of texas telling businesses in texas how to run their business. and that's an interesting position here to be in. so you will see american, you will see southwest, who are going to go with the federal guidelines, which will mean they will be at odds with the governor abbott's guidelines and you got some big healthcare systems who said, no, they will continue with their mandates for their employees, especially in the healthcare systems, and now other companies that have big plants or a lot of business in texas, those ceos, those executives are figuring out how they're going to -- how they're going to square a federal mandate that they support with this new mandate against a vaccine mandate from governor abbott. >> well, the other input here is that the mandates are actually encouraging vaccinations in a number of context and that's helping stem the delta surge. christine romans, great to have you on. >> nice to see you. any moment now we are expecting to see william shatner and the rest of the blue origin crew make their way on to the
launchpad. that's a live picture there. we're going to bring that to you live as soon as it happens. we're also going to speak to retired astronaut commander chris hadfield who has known shatner for years and has his own experience going into space. hear what advice he gave him before today's flight. so, you're recalibrating and reconnecting to the environment. seeing yourself as an artist - legitimate and genuine - can be transformational. daddy! for the best audio entertainment and storytelling. audible. see blood when you brush or floss can be a sign of early gum damage. parodontax active gum repair kills plaque bacteria at the gum line to help keep the gum sealed tight. parodontax active gum repair toothpaste
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glen de vries, ready to go. kristin fisher is there in west texas at the launch site. a lot of buildup to this moment. did we know that jeff bezos was going to drive them? >> reporter: we did not. and, you know, one of the other things that we're watching right now is that the countdown clock has just hit a hold. unclear exactly why. you'll remember on sunday, blue origin announced there was a one-day delay due to high winds. we're in the middle of a desert here in west texas, wide open spaces. not a lot of rain, which is good. but there is quite a bit of wind. that wind caused one delay from tuesday to wednesday and then a second delay of about 30 minutes. so wind has been a big concern here. it is not too bad from what i can tell, where i'm standing, a few miles away from the laun launchpad, but certainly something to watch. i'm not saying that is the reason for this delay that we're seeing right now. this hold. but you can see the crew very
happy, excited, jeff bezos in the driver's seat laughing. this is a moment for jeff bezos being able to send one of his childhood heroes into space, captain kirk, and the "star trek" franchise was one of the things that inspired jeff bezos to get into space and build this company. and so he's talked quite a bit about how special this moment is for him, just three months after he himself launched into space. and so in just a few minutes, the crew should be going to the launchpad. you can see the "new shepard" rocket right there. en & and they spent the last several d days, since saturday, in the astronaut village. >> kristin fisher, thanks so much. i like to see how they have the three astronauts crammed together in the back seat with william shatner riding the hump there. listen, he's about to hop on a rocket, i guess the short ride to the rocket, who cares? there is an important moment here, though, we see now for
more than five minutes that hold time, the countdown has been put on hold just about 45 minutes and now ticking up on how long it has been put on hold. we're joined by chris hadfield, former commander of the international space station. he has certainly a lot of experience in space. i wonder, chris, if we can begin by your sense of how significant it is to have a hold at this stage so close to launch. >> well, holds are better to have, jim, than not to have. and a lot of launch profiles, they actually plan a hold period where nothing happens. just so if you got behind, you could now use that hold time to catch up. but you want to make sure everything is right. this is only the 18th time, this rocket has ever launched. they only have been 17 previous ones. it is still a brand-new machine. they're working super hard to try to make sure the rocket is going to work all right. and wind, you know, if you get a wind shear, part way up the
launch and run into the jet stream or something, it can be really disruptive to how well the rocket can control itself. they got a lot of stuff to watch and if they're looking at something, you know, bill shatner is 90 years old, he can wait a couple more hours or another day for a launch if he has to. >> if he has to. it is important what you point out, there have been 17 launches, but only one other crude launch we saw in july. i know as jim pointed out, you've known shatner for years. as i understand it, you know, you also have been in touch with him, texting with william shatner. he told me the other day he was comfortable but uncomfortable at the same time with more time to think about this with the delay. just give us a sense, in your texts with him, how is he feeling and what kind of advice have you given him? >> well, you know, he's taken center stage literally his whole life. but someone else has always written his lines for him and he's learned them, a terrific journeyman actor. today he's much more helpless if
you think about it. he is completely at the whim of how things unfold. and he is powerless to do anything about it. he is just a passenger on board this rocket. it is a thrilling experience. and i'm really -- he's a friend and it is -- he's excited about it. i'm delighted. but just right now, you know, he's putting on a good face, but he's about to take a very large risk and he doesn't really have any control over any soliloquies in the middle of it. so i'm sure he's feeling butterflies very strongly. when he lies down in the the seat on board the vehicle, that's when he's really going to feel some introspection. >> the hold on this launch ticking up to eight minutes i believe as we wait for updates as to what led to the hold. i do want to ask you, chris hadfield, there is a hollywood aspect to this. after all, a hollywood actor who is on board. there is a business promotional aspect. this is a for profit company. on the science side, you're someone whose space career tied to the international space
station, which is a science gathering mission, do you see a scientific benefit, right, for these for profit private launches going to space? >> well, all the companies that built the space vehicles have been for profit up until now. all the vehicles i flew to space in were for profit. that hasn't really changed. what really changed is the price has come down far enough now that a private citizen, still, you have to be a wealthy private citizen, but a private citizen can buy a ticket. that's the real change. it is not like there is any shortage of space to explore. there is going to be huge eternal work for professional astronauts and miles is making the good distinction between that and previously. so i'm not worried about that at all. it is like working in any great government facility if the occasional tourist comes through and wants to have a look, then, you know, that's fine. that's normal. that's good human curiosity. i think there is lots of room in space for both of these things. >> yeah, chris, erica, to chris'
point, we asked, my colleague and i, how they feel about these private operations and they say they're happy to see it, right? it gives space command, the defense industry other options to get into space that -- rather than the government-run missions. it is interesting. it is a point we heard for many folks involved. >> yeah, absolutely. and, miles, as we look at this too, in terms of opening up those opportunities, we touched on this a little earlier, but i think it is so interesting to go back to as we see this renewed focus on space, as we see this renewed focus on engineering, on s.t.e.m., with kids, i know that is a focus for a number of the folks on board this launch today. but, miles, put in perspective for us, you talked how things changed after sputnik. what do you think this -- these moments, right, as we're seeing more launches and more efforts from these private companies, what that could change. >> just about everything in
space if you think about it. i go back about 20 years to the ex-prize, the onsari ex-prize, the flights at that time, scaled composites, they staged two flights, the idea to do two in as many weeks and it happened in ten days time. and we all thought, gosh, we'll be doing this, like, next year. and it has taken some time, which is a reminder that this is difficult stuff and that's what makes it interesting and worth doing. here we are, 20 years later, and it seems like this is just kind of happening overnight. but it has taken a long, long time to get here. and i think this year and these flights will be pivotal moments that will be kind of looked at as one of those sputnik kind of moments. those pivotal moments in time, a milestone, so to speak. i think from here on out space becomes a very different place. >> commander chris hadfield, miles o'brien, please stay with
us. we're going to continue to follow the launch. and we're up above 11 minutes it looks like now on this hold. waiting for updates as to what's behind it. >> yeah. we're waiting for not only to find out what's behind that hold, but then once of course it is lifted, we're waiting to see william shatner and his crew make their way out there to the launchpad. we saw them in the truck with jeff bezos at the wheel. chris boshuizen who was riding shotgun in the truck. we'll follow this. we're going to take a quick break. when we come back, the latest from west texas and this historic launch just ahead. hey, dad! hey, son! no dad, it's a video call. you got to move the phone in front of you like..like it's a mirror, dad. you know? alright, okay. how's that? is that how you hold a mirror? [ding] power e*trade gives you an award-winning mobile app with powerful, easy-to-use tools and interactive charts to give you an edge, 24/7 support when you need it the most and $0 commissions
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you're looking at live pictures at launch site one in west texas. this as the crew aboard blue origin's "new shepard" rocket gets ready to launch to the edge of space. we should note the launch has been on hold for 16 minutes, more than 16 minutes now, holding at 45 minutes the launch, we're waiting for updates on why that is. >> as we wait for that information, we're lucky to have with us scott kelly, retired astronaut. great to have you with us this morning. i would love to get your thoughts on what we're seeing and what this means as someone who, you know, as an astronaut, which is -- there are so few of you who made that journey, walk us through how this crew might be feeling in these moments, especially with this now 17-minute hold. >> yeah. well, you know, it is interesting, they don't have a long time to sit in the rocket and think about what they're about to do, which might be a
good thing. especially when you're flying for the very first time and you don't know what to expect. on a shuttle or soyuz launch, you get in three and a half hours earlier, there is a lot of stuff to do. it is neat to see these guys get into the car and drive out there and get in a few minutes before launch. they have a launch hold now. i'm not sure what it is. it could be weather related perhaps or could be mechanical. >> we're just learning that the hold is being described by the company blue origin as related to, quote, vehicle readiness. i assume they're talking about the space vehicle. by the way, you know better than us, that, you know, they cross their ts and dot their is, right? moments to launch. but when you hear that term there, what does it mean to you? >> well, it could be, you know, a failure of some hardware or software. it could also be paperwork.
i can remember being my first shuttle flight in 1999, sts-103, we held one of our -- or aborted one of our launch not because they thought there was anything wrong with the vehicle, but there was something wrong with the paper work. and like you said, you know, cross the ts and dot the is is important here as well. >> so they're saying this is -- they're just checking out a few things, could be normal, could be -- to your point, maybe it is paperwork. sometimes you get stuck at the gate on a regular plane, and you hear that they're waiting for paperwork. it is interesting as you hear that, there has been a lot made about this letter that was signed by 21 current and former employees of blue origin. they raised some safety concerns and they said in that letter, of the it 2 121 people there, they wouldn't be comfortable getting on a blue origin flight. i asked audrey powers about that, she said she didn't have
any concerns. she works at blue origin. she was a flight controller for nasa for a number of years. she has quite a resume. i'm curious, when you hear things like that, you see a letter like that, is that something that should give pause based on your experience? >> well, i think anytime, you know, somebody gets on a rocket there should be a little bit of pause. if they didn't, i don't think they would be human, you know? it is just such an unnatural act. so, of course, when something like that comes out, i think, you know, if i was the crew member on board, i would look into it thoroughly. and then, you know, make a decision from there. >> scott kelly, you set your own records in space. this trip in total will be about ten minutes, three minutes of weightlessness. still a remarkable feeling for anyone. by the way, i continue to raise my hand for any opportunity to do the same. but for folks at home who are watching this, can you just
describe as best you can what that feels like? you spent a year in space. they're going to get ten minutes, but still, something most of us will never experience. >> yeah, so, you know, there is certain things you look forward to when you're laying on the launchpad getting ready to launch. look forward to the dynamic event of, you know, punching a hole in the sky, while riding a rocket through space. but you also look forward to the mission, you look forward to the -- all the objectives you to complete, you might look forward to the amount of time you're going to be here. this flight, like you said, very short, ten or 11 minutes long total, so not a whole lot of time to appreciate it, but i think what they're getting ready to experience is basically an amusement park ride on steroids. it will probably be the greatest ride of their lives. >> wow. >> you said, you know, you would sit there, you think about all the things you're preparing for and preparing for this mission.
what do you see as the mission of this flight? >> i think it is raising awareness about space flight, it is providing more common access to people to launch into space because i do think it is -- it gives us a unique perspective on the planet and what we're capable of achieving. it inspires and motivates kids to study those s.t.e.m. subjects that are so important. i think mostly it is an inspirational mission. hopefully at some point they'll start putting maybe, like, college kids on here with some cool experiments and, you know, i would love to see kids like make a wish kids get to go on a rocket launch some day. >> let me ask you this, just given your own experience, and, again, you spent a year in space, the question are they astronauts? by the way, i mentioned this earlier going back to the mercury probe there was some debate given that the mission control was controlling the rocketship, they weren't really flying it as to whether how much control they were in, right?
what role they were playing. but are these folks becoming, joining the club of astronauts today? >> well, you know, there's different kinds of experiences, you know. there is the professional astronauts might have flown on the space shuttle, the international space station, those jobs are much more, you know, challenging and take a lot more effort and commitment than what these guys are doing here today. but, having said that, they're going above the carmen line, which is the line that designates where space begins, so i think if you're strapping yourself into a rocket, you go above that line, call yourself whatever you want. >> there you go. scott kelly, really great to have you with us today. thank you so much for your insight. i do want to turn to kristin fisher live at the launch site. this hold now 23 minutes. what do we know about why? >> reporter: the latest
information that we got from the company blue origin is that this 22-minute long hold is due to vehicle readiness. and i mean, that phrase, vehicle readiness, that is -- i think intentionally vague and very broad. it could mean a lot of things. one thing it does not appear to mean is that it is something weather related, which caused two previous delays because of high winds. but this phrase vehicle readiness, and the ability of which, you know, we can interpret that to mean many different things. this is something you with not experience during a nasa launch, we would all have access to the audio inside mission control and you can hear exactly what was happening. this is not a government sending people into space. this is a private company. we saw the same thing happen with spacex's all civilian crew to orbit a few weeks ago, the inspiration 4 crew, the press did not get as much access or information as it was used to
getting when nasa runs the show. now we're seeing a similar thing happen with blue oranorigin. >> space is hard. and anyone involved with it has been saying that for decades and this demonstration. it is a good point. because public organizations like nasa have an obligation to share as much information with the public as possible. this is a private company, different standards. we will continue to follow this as you see there, the hold has been on for coming up on 25 minutes now. we'll continue to update you and while we wait for an update, we'll take a short break. stay with us. ♪ ♪ to all the kisses...
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we are watching live pictures of the blue origin spacecraft. it is still on a hold there. that's that -- it has been on hold for 30 minutes or so now. when that hold is lifted, william shatner, three other members of this crew, they have yet to walk out to the launchpad as we wait. we're going to see what detail the company gives about the explanation they have given so far, which is to say that it is, quote, vehicle readiness that is at issue and causing this delay. >> vehicle readiness, a term our correspondent kristin fisher said was intentionally vague. let's check in with meteorologist chad myers in the cnn weather center.
it clearly is not a weather issue, it would seem, or they would have said so. what are the conditions at the launch site right now? >> you know, very good. compared to where we were a couple of days ago. yesterday, the winds were gusting to 25 and 30 miles per hour. we haven't had a gust over 8 miles per hour in the past six hours. the launch window here is a lot larger than, let's say, if you're sending a ship to the space station. the space station's going 17,000 miles per hour right now. you send a rocket up five minutes late, that space station is gone. it is 2,000 miles out of your way. and so that's why the window they have here is hours long because they're not trying to catch up to anything. winds now are nice and light, temperatures are good. sunshine everywhere. now, the longer they wait, if they have to hold this, the chances of the winds picking up is a little bit greater. we probably could get up to the 12 to 15 mile range and that could probably be a problem again later on this afternoon.
but hopefully we don't have to wait that long. the front came through last night. we talked about the tornados that were on the ground. that was the front that pushed away the south winds and now there are west winds and they're much lighter. we still have big storms out there on the plains. no storms in west or southern texas. good stuff. >> thanks so much, chad myers. that is motion there. why is the car driving to the launchpad? because that hold we were telling you about has been lifted. and the clockdoountdown clock h started again. we should note who is driving that pickup truck with the crew inside, jeff bezos, who owns the company. we're going now to kristin fisher on the ground. did you get any more detail about what caused the hold and what happens next? >> reporter: no word on what caused the hold. the blue origin webcast said they went through all of their checks, the vehicle was deemed go for launch. so at this point in time, you
can see william shatner in the middle seat, in the back seat, making his way to the launchpad with jeff bezos driving. quite a moment for the founder of blue origin and his childhood hero sitting in the back seat, the actor who played captain kirk in all of those "star trek" franchises. and, you know there is really something to be said about this is not just a space flight for these four crew members. this is also an experience that started on saturday. it is an experience in team building, in crew building, they spent two days in astronaut training here at launch complex one, even though this is a totally autonomous spacecraft, they don't have to do a whole lot. and one of my favorite things that william shatner actually said, he actually made a mistake and described it as rehearsing instead of training. clearly hard to, you know, get past some of the language that he's been so used to as an actor
for so many years. but that line along with the fact that he keeps talking about how terrified he is, he says he's scared and, you know, erica, you and i talked about this, i found it so refreshing to hear somebody say, hey, i'm scared to go to space. i'm excited he has full confidence in blue origin and the crew he will be able to get up to space and back down to earth safely, but he's also openly admitting he's afraid. that is, you know, historically speaking not the kind of right stuff you want professional astronauts to say. but, you know, one more thing, jim, blue origin has been under tremendous scrutiny. yes, this is a time of celebration for the company on the verge of their second crude flight after, you know, more than 20 years in business. but this is also a time of intense scrutiny because just two weeks ago you had 21 current and former blue origin employees sign on to an essay complaining about what they describe as a
toxic workplace environment, where professional dissent is act actively stifled, they complained about sexual harassment concerns and also safety concerns. these are all concerns that blue origin adamantly denies. and so even though the company denies it, they also very clearly have taken great pains throughout their webcast today
her specific involvement when it comes to safety for blue origin. has there been any talk about if or why that figured into her being on this particular flight, this particular launch? >> that's a great question. blue origin did not address it. there was always a very good chance that they were going to put another blue origin employee on this second crew launch. if it was going to be any employee, audrey powers was always going to be at the very top of the list. she has been intimately involved in the "new shepard" rocket, its development, its safety, everything for eight years now. very few people know this rocket as well as she does. so it is fitting that she is one of the faces of blue origin right now as it deals with a lot of these accusations from inside and outside of the company. but just objectively speaking, she is somebody who has always wanted to go to space, worked at
nasa for so many years and definitely deserves this ride into space. >> kristen fisher, thanks so much. we should note, william shatner is on board. audrey powers was with nasa, 2,000 hours at mission control. being driven now to the launch site by jeff bezos. we should know blue origin, the company, tweeted, we are a go for number ns-18 astronaut load, noting this will be the 18th launch. the crew headed to the launch tower for final preparations and also their entry into that capsule. let's bring back chris hadfield,
former commander. also joining us, dr. bernard harris, the first african-american to walk in space. particularly good to have folks who have been in that position before. perhaps i should begin with you, dr. harris. describe what it feels like to be moments away from launching into space. in this case it's three times the speed of sound, more than 2,000 miles an hour. what do you feel in those moments before you go? >> well, you know, it depends on whether it's your first mission or your second mission. as i think about what's happening now, i have to reflect back on my first mission. there was a sense of nervousness. sometimes i will joke and say i'm an american astronaut, i don't get nervous about anything. but that's not true. it is not normal to blast off in space, although it's getting pretty commonplace these days. >> not normal. it is getting more commonplace, but yes, i think most of us
would agree it definitely doesn't feel normal. as we look at this, commander hadfield, we were talking about what it must be like in these moments, especially if it is your first flight here. you said the best antidote for fear is confidence. >> he's a confident guy. he does his prep. he's talked to everybody. he's not just going for a lark. part of the reason you can feel confident like bernard did and i did when we flew was because of the preparation. in this case he's not flying the ship. he's not randomly there either. do your homework, learn your lines, make sure you're ready. that gives you a great calm and a confidence that you're going to be able to play your part. at some point you have to be slightly fatalistic and recognize, in his case -- i was born in '31.
i was 30 when al shepherd flew. if i die today, i'm 90, led a full life. i'm probably not going to die. this is a great experience and it's worth the risk. you've got to get that settled inside yourself so then you can actually live the moment. talking to bill, i'm pretty sure he's done all those things. >> thinking of that, someone who has lived 90 years, all the technological advances they have witnessed over that time period, we lad scott kelly, a very experienced astronaut on, 520 days in space. miles o'brien, he described it as punching a hole in the sky, right? space is hard even if you've done 17 launches prior on a vehicle like this one. just describe the technology that goes into this, each launch. >> we used to say when they're strapping in the likes of kelly and harris into shuttles, it's a million-plus moving parts all from the low bidder.
and many of them single-point failure parts. so it's scary stuff. this system, we should point out, is a lot safer than the shuttle. of course, it's not going nearly as far as not nearly as much energy. it takes about 15 times more energy to put a craft into orbit than what we're going to see here today. but crucially there is a crew escape system here. the capsule separates from the rocket whenever there's trouble, and they come down under a parachute. the shuttle didn't have that. as they're sitting there, yes, there's a lot to be concerned about when you're doing this. of course, as the astronauts on this panel will tell you, what they would frequently do is recite the astronaut's prepayer dear lord, please don't let me be the one to mess this up. they're going for the ride. they can enjoy it.
they've got those big beautiful windows and they know they have, relatively speaking, a safe way to do it. >> by the way, erica, i'm going to steal that prayer for all uses, professional and otherwise. >> fair enough. that big, beautiful window, that's what we've heard. we know william shatner is looking forward to look out that window. dr. harris, give us a sense of what was that first moment like for you when you felt weightlessness for the first time, when you were able to look out that window and see that view of earth from space? >> it was wonderful. as miles and chris talked about, the shuttle is a little different animal. we go up to 250 nautical miles above the earth, traveling at 17,500 miles an hour, which would take you around the world every 90 minutes, sunset or sunrise every 45. i remember our launch profile
ticks about 8.5 minutes or so, pulling 3, 3.5 gs on the way up. you go from that force on your body to zero gravity in a split second. i just remember sitting in my seat and noticing mie chmy /* my checklist. as was mentioned a minute ago, don't mess things up. so just begin to float in front of me and i realized i was at zero gravity. it was a wonderful experience because now i'm bound in my seat and what i want to do is get out and experience it. i unbuckled my seat and popped out like toast out of a toaster. getting the feeling of your space legs as it were was neat. i floated up to the window and looked out for the very first
t time. i ended up looking up at the earth instead of down. so everything changes, of course. >> you just made this 12-year-old boy very jealous as you describe that. i'm picturing my son with skittles, popping them into my mouth in weightlessness. i just learned something i didn't know. they've got to walk up. you picture all the launches -- the famous elevator rides, they've got to earn -- a few flights of stairs. they have to earn their right. >> definitely getting their steps in today. that is for sure, going up those st stairs. i have to say, dr. harris, i loved watching your face as you were recounting and reliving that moment because you can hear it in your voice, but to really see that smile on your face. i also want to bring in now
jonathan mcdowell, an astrophysicist at the harvard smithsonian center. great to have you with us this morning. we've been talking about for astronauts, part of what they would be thinking about in these moments would be not just the journey, but the mission. we talked about this a little earlier. i know for you there is a real mission to these launches and what could come of this. what do you see coming out of a day like today? >> we're seeing a new phase in the history of space tourism. a lot of people have forgotten that space tourism isn't new. it started in 2000 with bill nair dennis tito flying to the space station. what's new with these sub orbital missions, they're a lower price point, more people can afford to take them. we're seeing this flight at the same time th