SHUTTLES TAKE FLIGHT COLUMBIA, ATLANTIS HEAD FOR FLORIDA HOME.
Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE- Finally getting a break in rainy Southern California Southern California, also colloquially known as SoCal, is the southern portion of the U.S. state of California. Centered on the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, Southern California is home to nearly 24 million people and is the nation's second most populated region, weather, space shuttle space shuttle, reusable U.S. space vehicle. Developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it consists of a winged orbiter, two solid-rocket boosters, and an external tank. Columbia took off Thursday morning from Air Force Plant 42, followed minutes later by shuttle Atlantis from Edwards Air Force Base Edwards Air Force Base, U.S. military installation, 301,000 acres (121,805 hectares), S Calif., NE of Lancaster; est. 1933. It is one of the largest air force bases in the United States and has the world's longest runway. .
Columbia, which has been ready to leave since Sunday, left Plant 42 at 11 a.m. aboard its modified Boeing 747 carrier. The tandem thrilled hundreds of onlookers who gathered around Sierra Highway Sierra Highway is a road in Southern California, United States. It runs from Tunnel Station near the north limit of the City of Los Angeles, where it intersects with San Fernando Road and Foothill Boulevard, as well as Interstate 5, and continues north to Mojave, mostly paralleling and Avenue N, some waiting for more than two hours.
``I thought it was beautiful the way they flew over the people and gave them a show,'' said Gloria Nobles of Littlerock. ``It was a beautiful sight.''
At 11:37 a.m., Atlantis took off aboard NASA's other shuttle carrier. Atlantis, which has been ready to leave since Wednesday, had been at Edwards since landing there Feb. 20 at the end of a 13-day mission to outfit the international space station.
Both shuttles were scheduled to make stops before continuing on to Florida. Columbia, originally scheduled to fly into Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, was diverted to Dyess Air Force Base Dyess AFB (IATA: DYS, ICAO: KDYS, FAA LID: DYS) is a military airport located five miles (8 km) southwest of the central business district (CBD) of Abilene, a city in Taylor County, Texas, USA. in Texas because of poor weather.
Atlantis was scheduled to spend the night at Altus Air Force Base Altus Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base in southwest Oklahoma that was established in January 1943.
The host wing is the 97th Air Mobility Wing, which includes an operations group, a maintenance directorate, a mission support group, and a medical group. in Oklahoma.
Carrying an 85.5-ton shuttle restricts the NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Independent U.S. 747s to only about 250 mph and around 16,000 to 18,000 feet altitude, NASA spokesman Alan Brown
NASA does not like to fly two shuttles at the same time, but NASA was eager to get Atlantis back to Florida to begin processing for its next mission in June. NASA was also concerned about the expense of keeping its Florida-based shuttle support workers at Edwards for too much longer.
``This is the first window we've had to get out of here so we're on our way,'' said Brown.
Columbia, at 20 years old the nation's oldest shuttle, had been in Palmdale for 17 months to receive a series of inspections and modifications. Those modifications included the installation of modern touch-screen instrument panels replacing the 1970s vintage gauges and dials.
Columbia was mated to its 747 carrier Saturday, but poor weather lengthened the shuttle's stay in the Antelope Valley. Because the shuttle/747 tandem was too large to go back into the Boeing hangar where Columbia had stayed the past 17 months, Boeing arranged to borrow a hangar from SR Technics tech·nic
1. technics (used with a sing. or pl. verb) The theory, principles, or study of an art or a process.
2. technics (used with a pl. verb) Technical details, rules, or methods.
3. America on the other side of Plant 42 to house them.
The SR Technics hangar was large enough to house most of the craft, but the tail sections stuck out, providing a curious sight to onlookers.
(ran in AV edition only) Kim Irby of Lancaster and sons Christopher, 1, and Michael, 13, watch as the space shuttle Columbia takes off from Air Force Plant 42 on Thursday for a return to Florida.
Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer