The crew of the twice-delayed shuttle Columbia flew to the Kennedy Space Center from Houston Friday for the start of the countdown to blast off Monday on the first of 15 flights planned for 1986.
Columbia's countdown was scheduled to begin at 1 a.m. today and, if all goes well, the rebuilt space shuttle will thunder away from Earth at 4:05 a.m. PST Monday for a five-day mission.
Landing is scheduled for early next Saturday at the Kennedy Space Center.
On board will be Cmdr. Robert L. Gibson, pilot Charles F. Bolden, Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, Steven A. Hawley, George D. Nelson, RCA satellite engineer Robert J. Cenker and Rep. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), flying in his capacity as chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the budget of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Columbia's crew faces a busy five days in orbit beginning with the launch of an RCA communications satellite about 9 1/2 hours after blastoff. The rest of the flight will be devoted to experiments in materials processing, observations of Halley's comet and medical studies.