Space: A Fully Mature Spaceplane

The largest shuttle crew ever weathers a series of glitches

Palm trees were drooping in the heat of the midday sun and alligators snoozing after a breakfast of fish, when the alien bird swooped down from the sky. Roseate spoonbills and wild pigs scattered as it alighted with a gentle whoosh! on the 15,000-ft. ribbon of concrete beside the Florida marsh. On two previous missions, Captain Robert Crippen had been scheduled to land the space shuttle at Kennedy Space Center, the launch site, and each time bad weather had diverted the ship to Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert. But...

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