Columbia returns from orbit

ColumbiaThe first shuttle to return from space, Columbia touches down on the dry lake bed strip at Edwards Air Force Base in California, two days and six hours after liftoff (and after putting a cool million miles on the odometer). The aerodynamics involved in gliding after re-entry are found to be trickier than the previous test landings of the Enterprise. Inspection of the thermal tiles lining the shuttle’s belly reveals more damage than expected, and NASA begins working to refine the process of fitting the tiles to the shuttle.