Key space shuttle work completed for test flight

It took four times as long as expected, but technicians finally finished repairs and modifications to the heatshield tiles on the space shuttle Columbia. Associate space agency administrator John Yardley said the last of 30, 761 ceramic tiles was bonded to Columbia's aluminum skin, clearing the way for the movement of the rocket plane to the Vehichle Assembly Building -- a key step toward the shuttle's first test flight.

Mr. Yardley said he believes there is an even chance that astronauts John W. Young and Robert R. Crippen will be able to take off in the Columbia on the target date, March 14.

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