FIRST LADY VISITS SPACE CENTER BUT MISSES LAUNCH OF COLUMBIA.
First Lady Hillary Clinton (R) and her daughter Chelsea (C) meet NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski as they arrived at the Kennedy Space Center to view the launch of the space shuttle Columbia July 20. Just six seconds before the space shuttle Columbia was set to lift off on Tuesday on an historic mission with the first woman commander, NASA controllers dramatically aborted the countdown. With a host of high-profile women including first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea on hand at the Kennedy Space Centre to celebrate the event, sensors reported an abnormal build-up of hydrogen gas in an engine compartment. Launch controllers had no option but to abort the liftoff and postpone the mission for 48 hours, shuttle launch director Ralph Roe told reporters on Tuesday. But the heart-stopping call to halt the blastoff at 12:36 a.m. EDT (0436 GMT) turned out to be a false alarm.