In Florida, the official launch countdown for the third space shuttle started on Thursday (18 March).
AERIAL V Runway of Edwards Air Force base
SV Man walking through rain-saturated landing strip
AERIAL V NASA truck on landing site
AERIAL V Landing strip at White Sands, New Mexico
SVs & GV Aircraft practising landing on new strip
GV/CU NASA spokesman speaking (2 shots)
GVs/SV Space shuttle on Edwards Air Force base (3 shots)
SVs/AERIAL V Equipment being loaded on to trains for transfer (3 shots)
AERIAL V Shuttle loading gantry
AERIAL V 747 jet
SV Chase plane arriving at White Sands
GV/SV/AERIAL Vs Shuttle at Cape Canaveral, Florida launching site (4 shots)
TRANSCRIPT FOR SHOT SIX: NASA SPOKESMAN: "It's just a desert out there, it's a vague landing strip; and there's some 400 people and all this equipment that's moved from Dryden, and has to be set up and operated at Northcote."
EDITOR'S NOTE: A COMMENTARY, BY NBC'S CORRESPONDENT ROBERT BAZELL, IS AVAILABLE IF REQUIRED.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In Florida, the official launch countdown for the third space shuttle started on Thursday (18 March). If all goes according to plan, the Columbia space shuttle will leave Cape Canaveral on Monday (22 March). Meanwhile, heavy rains have transformed Columbia's landing site into a huge quagmire. In an effort to solve the problem, NASA officials decided to switch landing sites, from Edwards Air Force Base, California, to White Sands, New Mexico. But according to NASA sources, the transfer of 400 men and 21 tons of equipment will not alter Columbia's landing date. The gantry, which is not mobile, is to be replaced by a set of cranes, but the major inconvenience is for those who are already camping at Edwards Air Force Base to watch the landing on 29 March.