Networks, Cablers Plan Coverage of the Final Launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program

By Alex Weprin 

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Tomorrow at 11:25 AM ET, the Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch, the final launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program, which first sent craft into orbit in 1981. There is a strong chance that weather could delay the launch, but that isn’t stopping the broadcast networks and cable news organizations from planning extensive coverage to mark the occasion.

NBC News is planning a special report to be anchored by Brian Williams in New York. Jay Barbree, the only journalist to cover every manned space mission, will “call” the launch from Cape Canaveral.

ABC News is planning a special report to be anchored by “Good Morning America” news anchor Josh Elliott in New York. Matt Gutman will be on the scene in Florida for the network.

CBS News is sending “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley to Cape Canaveral, where he will anchor a special report as well as that evening’s broadcast.

On Cable:

Fox News has Shepard Smith anchoring from Florida. Smith traveled to Houston earlier this year, where he trained with the crew of Atlantis (pictured right). Former astronaut Tom Jones will join Smith, as will correspondent Steve Harrigan, who will provide live reports. Smith will also present pieces from his time training with the crew.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper will lead the cable channel’s coverage from Cape Canaveral from 10 AM to noon. The network has branded its coverage as ” Beyond Atlantis: The Next Frontier.” CNN also has Ali Velshi on-site to anchor “American Morning.” Correspondent John Zarella, who has covered more than 80 space shuttle missions, will report from the Cape. Anchor Brooke Baldwin, meteorologist Chad Myers and correspondent Carol Costello will also report from Florida.

MSNBC has Tamron Hall anchoring from Florida, with Tom Costello reporting. Barbree will also contribute.

CNBC has Brian Shactman on-site for its coverage.