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.
• At 3:35pmET the balloon landed, softly. Shepard Smith asked “is the little boy inside?”
• At 3:37pmET rescue crews circle the balloon waiting to open it, to determine if the boy is inside.
• Gawker reports the boy and his family were twice on the ABC show “Wife Swap.” “The boy is Falcon Heene, son of Mayumi and Richard, who is a scientist and storm chaser.”
• As of 4:08pmET the cable networks remain in continuing coverage of the story as search for 6-year-old Falcon Heene continues.
• At 4:20pmET a neighbor of the Hennes, on MSNBC, describes what happened: “There was a lot of panic in the backyard. The mother seemed very distraught.”
• CNN first to commercial break at 4:25pmET and returns from break with the Situation Room covering other news.
• As for overall coverage, TVNewser is starting to hear from the networks. A CNN spokesperson tells us, “Standard procedure across CNN networks is to put in place a delay. On this occasion it was 10 seconds. The delay was in place from the time we went to air with video through to the discovery that no one was inside.”
• At 5pmET, FNC airs Glenn Beck, CNN returns to continuing coverage of the balloon story and MSNBC is airing Hardball.
• 6:07pmET: 6-year-old Falcon Heene has been found safe, hiding in a box in the garage attic
• 6:30pmET: ABC World News, NBC Nightly News and the CBS Evening News are all leading with the balloon story.
• Below, the storm-chasing Henne family was featured on CBS4 in Denver.
ABC’s Sam Champion had arrived in Texas in time for Nightline last night. CNN’s Anderson Cooper broadcast live from Houston as well, and while getting an update from meteorologist Chad Myers asked Myers to email him the best (or perhaps worst) location to broadcast from tonight.
This morning, CNN and MSNBC have begun squeezing back their programming, keeping Hurricane Ike stats on the screen.
Even The Weather Channel is trying to show the seriousness of the Cat 2 storm to anyone choosing to ride it out. Here’s their morning headline: “A Potential Life-Threatening Surge from Ike.”
We’ll update this post throughout the day as we hear who is going to be covering the storm and from where…