Atlantis Space Shuttle's Final Launch: How the Networks Covered It

From the live broadcast to prime time specials, various media outlets explore the history and future of U.S. space exploration.
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All eyes were on the final Atlantis Space Shuttle launch Friday morning thanks to extensive coverage of the historic event on various network and cable outlets.

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Seemingly, every outlet had a correspondent on hand in Cape Canaveral, Florida to relay the day's events. Between crowds of people, miles of traffic and uncertainty regarding the cooperation of the weather, viewers at home got a peek into the dramatic takeoff.

Prior to liftoff, ABC News' Ned Potter was on the scene, pulling double duty for ITN News and speculating on whether or not the overcast sky would foil the scheduled 11:26 a.m. launch time.

Following the main event, ABC cut to Matt Gutman who gave a first hand account of the rumble of the spacecraft and thoughts about what may be in store for NASA in the coming years. Tonight, Diane Sawyer is expected to continue their coverage of the event on World News.

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Brian Williams took to the airwaves for an NBC Special Report, joined by Jay Barbree. The soon-to-be-retired newscaster has been on hand for all 165 previous shuttle launches, and provided commentary for this - his 166th and possibly last account. Barbree, who has been with NBC for 53 years, also appears with Tom Costello in an interview for NBC Nightly News.

Covering the countdown, The Today show also discussed the question of whether the gloomy weather would be a factor in takeoff or not.

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Former astronaut Tom Jones joined Shepherd Smith live on Fox News for the event. From Florida, Jones gave an insiders perspective on what it feels like to be inside the aircraft as a member of the crew.

CBS News broadcast the launch live, but with little fanfare or commentary. The Early Show took a look back at the 30 year history of U.S. space exploration and paid tribute to those astronauts who have been tragically lost in action.

In addition to broadcasting the live launch, CNN aired a special titled Beyond Atlantis: The Next Frontier on Sunday, July 3 to be re-aired tonight at 8 p.m. Featuring John Zarella, the special report analyzes what's next for NASA. 

While the future remains uncertain, many reports indicate that NASA's next launch isn't likely to occur for at least another four years.

Watch CNN's coverage below.