NEW YORK -- The Columbia is a much-used space shuttle now and so is its story, so when it blasts off Thursday at 7:19 a.m. EST from Cape Canaveral for its fifth orbital flight, television will give it only a cursory glance.
CBS will go live with Morton Dean at the cape just two minutes before ignition and stay with the launch in the course of 'CBS Morning' only until 7:34 a.m. before returning to regular programming.
NBC will follow roughly the same format, with Jane Pauley at Cape Canaveral to supply reports throughout the 'Today' show.
ABC will devote no more time, but many more people to the effort.
The network will go live at the cape at 7:09 a.m. and stay with the launch until the space ship is out of range of tracking cameras.
Frank Reynolds, with veteran astronaut Eugene Cernan, will anchor the report while science editor Jules Bergman and Lynn Sherr handle duties from the Johnson Space Center at Houston.
David Hartman, host of 'Good Morning America,' also will be at the cape with such guests as astronauts Joe Engle and George Nelson, shuttle operations director Tom O'Hara, Dennis Quaid, star of the upcoming astronaut movie, 'The Right Stuff,' and wives of three of the Columbia's crew.
The Cable News Network will give the event a bit more attention, going live for the launch at 7 a.m. with science reporter Kevin Sanders and astronaut Fred Gregory.
CNN subsequently will cover the orbital placement, by astronauts Vance D. Brand, Robert F. Overmyer, Joseph P. Allen and William B. Lenoir, of two communications satellites -- a job that will net NASA its first working paycheck of $18 million.
CNN also will bring a spacewalk by the astronauts to its viewers as the shuttle hurtles around the globe.
Sattelite News Channels -- like CNN, a 24-hour news cable network - also will give extensive coverage to the Columbia's fifth orbital flight.
Jose Grinan will anchor the launch, beginning at 4 a.m., EDT, and carry it through successful orbit. Then, throughout the six-day mission, SNC regularly will broadcast live reports, including the space walk and the launching of the two communications satellites, in the course of its 18-minute segments.
All five networks will cover the Tuesday landing at Edwards AFB live, with little fanfare for the most part, from the time the Columbia soars into view until it touches down.