Touchdown, Columbia!

The shuttle is "right on the money" and gives the U.S. a mighty lift

Suddenly shouts rose from the hot, sunbaked desert floor in Southern California. There it was, high over the distant buttes, a tiny, gleaming dot in the pale blue sky, an apparition from space returning to earth.

Inside the cockpit, the 50-year-old commander, with glasses specially fitted into his helmet to correct the farsightedness of middle age, took over the controls for the final critical maneuvers. Expertly, the veteran pilot guided his craft through a long, easy turn. When he completed...

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