Atlantis, Columbia back in Florida
(CNN) -- The space shuttle Columbia was ferried back to Florida on Monday, following sister-ship Atlantis by a few hours.
NASA said it marked the first time two shuttles had been ferried simultaneously and the first time a carrier aircraft carrying a shuttle had landed at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Columbia's carrier jet landed at Cape Canaveral. The jumbo jet carrying Atlantis landed at the shuttle landing facility.
Both shuttles left California on March 1, but bad weather delayed their journey back to Florida.
Columbia stopped at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas. Atlantis stopped at Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, then Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle.
Both took off again Monday morning.
Columbia, the oldest shuttle in NASA's fleet, had been in Palmdale, California, for 17 months undergoing modifications.
"Columbia is a vastly different shuttle," said Eileen Hawley, a NASA spokeswoman at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
More than 100 improvements were made to Columbia to make it safer and lighter, NASA said. The orbiter also is sporting a new "glass cockpit" that substitutes flat computer screens for Columbia's original mechanical instruments.
Atlantis landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California on February 20 after a mission to international space station Alpha.
"We're happy to have both back," Hawley said.
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