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NASA Scrubs Endeavour

Aired May 31, 2002 - 10:21   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We thought it might be nice to take you to central Florida, the Kennedy Space Center. But there is also news on today's shuttle launch, or planned shuttle launch, and our Miles O'Brien is there to give us an idea of what is going on there. It looks like this might be delayed?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, unfortunately, Fredricka, we just got word from NASA that the weather pattern that is set up here on the Florida peninsula today is such that it is almost dead certain there will be thunderstorms, and at the very least, thunder clouds within the 20 nautical mile radius of the launch pad that NASA watches ever so closely before a launch.

As a result, they have scrubbed tonight's launch. It was supposed to happen at 7:22 p.m. Eastern Time. We will meet at about that time tonight to decide whether to try again 24 hours later, or perhaps wait until this weather pattern, this distinct, summer weather pattern of cloud build-up in the day and rain showers in the evening and afternoon, wait until that changes perhaps in the first part of next week.

So no shuttle launch today. But it is a beautiful day in Florida otherwise, I guess.

WHITFIELD: Well, Miles, one superstar who thought perhaps they might be heading to space, not on the Endeavour, but perhaps to the International Space Station, well, we're going to find out hopefully whether that's really going to happen.

N'Sync's Lance Bass -- what do you know about his chances of being able to shoot to space?

O'BRIEN: Well, let me tell you about Lance Bass. Lance Bass, is, first of all, is fit to fly. As a matter of fact, we are told he actually had minor heart surgery. I don't know if there is anything like minor heart surgery. In any case, to change a regular heart beat. He is now fit to fly, has been through the medical testing, but he lacks one important thing, and that is the cold hard cash to purchase a seat on the Russian Soyuz. He is trying to raise some sponsorship money, trying to put together a network deal to do a reality-based program. That is not yet forthcoming.

And so we are told he will announce that he is medically fit. He will thank the Russians for their time, and he will tell that he is in serious discussions for a network deal, so far, elusive. And to talk a little bit more about this, we are joined here at the cave, coincidentally, by Sergei Gorbunov, who is the chief press secretary for the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, here to see the shuttle launch. Although he won't see one tonight, as we just told you. We think he might perhaps be bad luck. That's not for certain, though, nevertheless.

And, Mr. Gorbunov, first of all, just tell us, you say categorically that in October, Lance Bass will not fly? We have a translator here to help us out.

SERGEI GORBUNOV, PRESS SECY., RUSSIAN (through translator): I have not official requests from Lance Bass and his team, official request for the flight, so we cannot say he will fly in space. Very, very small chance.

O'BRIEN: OK, so who is likely to fly in October on that Soyuz? Is there another wealthy tourist waiting in the wings, or will somebody else?

GORBUNOV (through translator): We think it's more chance to fly in space for one Russian citizen.

O'BRIEN: A Russian citizen, perhaps a citizen of some note. Let me ask you this, does the Russian Aviation and Space Agency have any qualms or issues about flying a 22-year-old pop singer on the Soyuz? Does that bother some people on the agency?

GORBUNOV (through translator): He never ask us about space flight. We cannot comment.

O'BRIEN: He never asked. All right. Thank you very.

Sergei Gorbunov, the chief press secretary for the Russian Aviation and space agency, along with the help a of translator, we appreciate you being with us. There you have it, Fredricka, Lance Bass really hasn't had any direct negotiations with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency. He has gone through the medical retinue. We expect to hear from him in just a few moments to say he is fit to fly. But aside from that, it does not appear that we are going to be seeing Lance Bass in orbit anytime soon. Suffice to say that he and the Russian Aviation Space Agency are not quite in sync just yet.

Back to you.

WHITFIELD: That's very funny. Ha ha.

OK, well, let's find out if his plans are dead in the water. Perhaps David Krieff, he may know, and he is joining us now. He is president of Destiny Productions and the executive producer of the Lance in Space Project.

OK, you heard from miles there and from one of the experts from the Russian space station that there really is no deal, that Lance never really even asked for support.

DAVID KRIEFF, DESTINY PRODUCTIONS: That is totally false.

WHITFIELD: So set us straight.

KRIEFF: Their politics, I guess, are just until we sign a deal, that they are not going to, you know, verify it. But the fact is that a defined terms were sent yesterday from the William Morris Agency to the Russian Space Agency. I don't know if Mr. Gorbunov is even aware of that. We even put money in escrow. Lance has passed all of his medicals. We have a backup of Lori Garber (ph). We have Radio Shack as our main sponsor. And our Monday, we are going to announce a huge, major network commitment for the project.

WHITFIELD: So he is physically fit.

KRIEFF: Mr. Gorbunov and I have gone back and forth quite a few times. He is not the last word on this deal.

WHITFIELD: So Lance is physically fit. You are saying it's money and politics that are standing in the way. How much money does it take in order for someone of the likes of Lance Bass to go to the International Space Station as part of this project?

KRIEFF: That's what we are negotiating now.

WHITFIELD: What are some of these you are dealing with?

KRIEFF: You are looking at upwards of around 14 to $20 million.

WHITFIELD: And so who would providing that kind of money for him?

KRIEFF: Well, I have these guys on my shirt for a reason. They are very committed to the project. They always have been. They have put in a lot of dough so far, and they are putting more money in escrow, we hope, beginning next week, as we sign the network deal.

Basically, there are certain triggers this deal. It's a very complicated deal. There's a lot of moving parts. But I have to say this, Lance Bass is one of the most passionate young guys I have ever met. He is going to get his flight.

WHITFIELD: All right, $14 million, Radio Shack in part will be helping to finance this effort. Miles O'Brien is at the Kennedy Space Center in Port Canaveral, and he is back with a question to you there, David.

KRIEFF: Hi, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Quick question. How are you, David?

KRIEFF: Good, thank you.

O'BRIEN: Time is running out. The training needs to begin pretty much next week. Are you going to commit right now to say that Lance Bass is heading into training right away? KRIEFF: That's what we have been talking about, and I'm not at the press conference in Moscow, unfortunately because I have been sewing up the media deals here. But the reality is that there is a couple of different time schedules. The main thing is to announce his candidacy, and that's something we are hoping we will accomplish, where we have invited the Russian delegation to come out to Los Angeles to the television studio that is going to be helping us to finance this project.

They, at this point, indicated they will be coming out, and things are progressing on a very high level. And I appreciate the publicity, gentlemen Gorbunov's comments, but he is not aware of that the definition and terms have been sent. We are represented by the world's largest talent agency in the world, the William Morris agency. Our agent over there, John Ferter (ph), has done a bang-up job. We are all passionate about this.

O'BRIEN: David, just quickly. David, what I have been hearing is that it's been very difficult to get a sponsorship and production deal lined up here, because a lot of sponsors are concerned about the risks of being associated with a space launch, something where things obviously can go wrong, and that might obviously backfire, if you will excuse that expression, on the sponsor. Are you running into that?

KRIEFF: No.

And is this really a done deal?

O'BRIEN: First of all, I'm not running into that. If anything, I'm running into the opposite. The passion that Lance has ignited with the younger generation is absolutely phenomenal. We have gotten hundreds of thousands of letters and e-mails, kids donating money to us, which we don't accept, by the way, to help Lance to get into space.

It is probably one of the most exciting projects I have ever worked on. It's challenging, it's historical in nature, but the sponsorships are there. It is just a matter of certain triggers being pulled, and over the last few days, we have actually pulled quite a few triggers. I believe as you see this press conference unfold, and then Monday an Tuesday of next week, we will have more and more to talk about.

WHITFIELD: So, David, after all is said and done, say you get the deal, you will have this Lance in space reality-based show, who is really benefiting from this in the end? Who is your audience? Why do you feel like this is the thing to do, to have a reality-based show on this very courageous and risky mission?

KRIEFF: Well, it's exciting. As I say, all we talk about on CNN and news is terrorists and war and all that. This shows the opportunity for the future of a peaceful space. It is the first time that America and Russia has ever gotten together with the youngest person in the world, and also happens to be a celebrity, who is using his celebrity for this type of good. It's joint venture, if you will, toward a peaceful space. I don't know what's more exciting than that. WHITFIELD: And you think this might spark the interest of science and space exploration in young people, and he is the conduit in which to do it.

KRIEFF: I believe he is the conduit, and I believe as part of our deal of what we are talking to the nice people in Russia about his continuing this, so that we would have options for many other flights, also in April and October of next of year. That's all part of the deal.

Again, it's very complicated deal, one of the most complicated deals I have ever worked on. And a lot of moving parts, but a lot of passion, and there is funds to support our efforts.

I'm feeling stronger than ever today. That's why we're going ahead and announced that Lance has fulfilled his medical obligations. He is certified. The guy went through a situation, as you mentioned, with his heart, where he is now in perfect shape. I mean, he has gone the distance and will continue to go the distance.

WHITFIELD: All right, but the big hurdle still is, will it actually happen? I want to go back to Miles O'Brien back in Florida. He's got -- never mind, we just lost our little satellite transmission there.

But, David Krieff, we appreciate it for you joining us of Destiny Productions. Good luck to you, and your pop star, Lance Bass, on his efforts to try to get to the International Space Station. We will see if it happens. We invite you to talk to us again if indeed you do seal a deal. We want it talk about it.

KRIEFF: Thanks a lot.

WHITFIELD: Thanks very much.

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