Nets Prep For Discovery Return

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Only really early risers (or West Coast night owls) will be glued to their sets if the space shuttle Discovery returns on schedule Monday morning, but they will have a lot of places to watch it.

The broadcast and cable news networks, which broke into programming to cover the launch, are planning live coverage of the landing, the first attempted reentry since the Columbia shuttle disintegrated in 2002.

Discovery is slated to land at 4:37 a.m. ET Aug. 8 at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.,  though the reentry window also includes a 6:12 a.m. Florida landing and at Edwards Air Force Base in California at 7:42 a.m and 9:17 a.m., all ET.

When Columbia broke up during its Saturday morning return in 2002, shuttle missions had become almost routine and news outlets did not pay much attention to liftoffs and landings.

A local TV crew from WFAA in Dallas, which did film the shuttle regularly as it passed overhead on landings, captured Columbia streaking across the skies and aired the pictures live. Shortly after, NASA revealed it had lost communication with the shuttle.

Discovery's upcoming landing will be much more widely covered given the Columbia disaster and the various issues with this shuttle—foam loss on lift-off and various parts poking out or hanging off the vehicle at one point or another during the flight.

ABC plans to have Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson get in early to anchor with Ned Potter from New York. Correspondent Bob Woodruff will be in Florida and John Berman will be at the Johnson Space Center in Texas.

CNN's morning anchor and space specialist, Miles O'Brien, will be live from Florida and co-anchor a special 4 a.m. hour of news with Carol Costello, who will be in New York.

CBS Early Show anchor Harry Smith will lead the network's coverage from New York with correspondent Mark Strassmann, CBS News Space Consultant Bill Harwood and former astronaut Kathryn Thornton reporting from Florida and correspondent Lee Cowan and astoronaut Jim Halsell in Houston.NBC and MSNBC will simulcast coverage beginning at 4 a.m. with Chris Jansing anchoring from New York and NBC correspondent Tom Costello and analyst Jay Barbree reporting from the Kennedy Space Center.  NBC Dallas bureau chief Jim Cummins will be in Houston.

For the best picture, viewers should tune into cable channel HDNet. The network will carry the shuttle reentry in high definition, as it did the July 26 launch. It also has an HD clip of the lift-off available for downloading at www.hd.net/downloads.

Fox News wasn't talking about its coverage plans.

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