Space: Gunk Grounds the Second Shuttle

Columbia's new mission is aborted 31 seconds before lift-off

Two days before blastoff, preparations for the second launching of the space shuttle Columbia were "just going bang, bang, bang," according to Deke Slayton, manager of NASA's shuttle test program. Things were running so far ahead of schedule, in fact, that most workers at the Kennedy Space Center were given a morning off. Even the astronauts, Air Force Colonel Joe H. Engle, 49, and Navy Captain Richard H.

Truly, 44 this week, would have time for "goofing off," Slayton noted. As a crowd of half a million gathered at Cape Canaveral, the only apparent...

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