March 1, 1996 in Nation/World

Shuttle Astronauts Test Smoke Detectors

Compiled From Wire Services

With their lost satellite slinking toward extinction, space shuttle Columbia’s astronauts turned their attention to more burning issues Thursday.

Commander Andrew Allen and his crew spent much of the day igniting rubber, wires and a candle in an enclosed chamber to test smoke detectors, as the gap narrowed between Columbia and the escaped satellite-on-a-cord.

The two spacecraft were expected to pass within 50 miles of one another early today - their closest approach since Sunday, when the electrical cable connecting them snapped.

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