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Columbia Space Shuttle Departs California on Piggyback Ride Precede WICHITA FALLS, Texas

August 20, 1989

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (AP) _ Space shuttle Columbia flew here from California on Sunday, riding piggyback on a modified Boeing 747 jetliner for an overnight stop before heading to Florida, a NASA spokeswoman said.

The shuttle landed at Robins Air Force Base at this central Georgia town at about 5:15 p.m. EDT, said Lisa Malone, a spokeswoman at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Earlier in the day, the plane bearing the shuttle took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, and then stopped at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, for refueling.

Columbia, the nation’s oldest shuttle, was to stay in Georgia overnight before proceeding to Florida sometime Monday. Thunderstorms in central Florida prevented it from being flown directly to Cape Canaveral from Texas on Sunday, Ms. Malone said.

The shuttle landed in California’s Mojave Desert on Aug. 13 after a five- day secret military mission, which reportedly included deployment of a spy satellite and experiments related to the ″Star Wars″ anti-missile program.

Bad weather in the southwestern states delayed the piggyback ride, which originally had been scheduled for Saturday morning, said NASA spokesman Don Haley.

Columbia sustained minor damage to its heat-shield tiles during the mission this month, its first flight in 3 1/2 years. A steering thruster failed and the pilot’s seat suddenly jerked backward during launch, but none of the problems was considered serious, NASA officials said.

The next shuttle flight is scheduled for Oct. 12, when Atlantis will carry the Galileo space probe into earth orbit so it can be launched on a six-year voyage to Jupiter. Columbia’s next mission is scheduled for December.

-NY-08-20-89 1829EDT

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