STS-114 Commander Brings Letterman Up to Speed

STS-114 Commander Brings Letterman Up to Speed
STS-114 shuttle commander Eileen Collins on the "Late Show with David Letterman." (Image credit: CBS/Worldwide Pants.)

AstronautEileen Collins explained to an agog David Letterman Tuesday night that thespace shuttle goes from zero to 17,500 miles per hour in less than nineminutes.

"You arehauling," she acknowledged to laughter.

On "TheLate Show" on CBS, Letterman prepared a sight gag for the commander ofDiscovery's recent mission -- a "zero gravity" coffee cup floating on a wire.

"Whenyou're in outer space, everything is weightless. Everything floats," he said,try to manipulate the cup by its handle as water sloshed out.

"You need away to keep the water in there," Collins said when she saw it.

Sheoutlined the basics of Discovery's mission for the talk-show host, answeringhis questions about the speed and sensations of launch. "If you had not trainedto launch in a space shuttle, you'd be terrified," she said.

Collinsalso reiterated the crew's commitment to exploring space, despite the loss ofseven friends in the Columbia disaster.

"We believethat's what the Columbia astronauts would have wanted us to continue doing,"she said to applause.

She saidshe had no safety concerns about her flight, given the "labor of love" forworkers in the space program.

Still,Collins said, "The shuttle program has been tremendously successful, but it'stime to move on to something else."

Tonight,Collins, a native of Elmira, N.Y., and her crewmate Charlie Camarda, a Queens,N.Y., native, will toss out first pitches together at the New York Metsbaseball game.

Publishedunder license from FLORIDATODAY. Copyright ? 2005 FLORIDA TODAY. No portion of thismaterial may be reproduced in any way without the written consent of FLORIDA TODAY.

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Chris Kridler
Contributing Writer

Chris Kridler is a writer, editor, photographer and storm chaser who authored a group of storm-chasing adventure novels called Storm Seekers. As a reporter covering space, her subjects have included space shuttle missions, the Mars Rovers from California’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and a Soyuz launch and mission from Kazakhstan and Russia. Much of that work was published through her longtime column at Florida Today. Her photographs have been featured in magazines and books, including the covers of The Journal of Meteorology, the book Winderful, and the Wallace and Hobbs Atmospheric Science textbook. She has also been featured in Popular Photography. Kridler started chasing tornadoes in 1997, and continues the adventure every spring in Tornado Alley.