September 01, 1997 12:00 AM

Former NASA astronaut DAVID WALKER, 56, whose space shuttle flights included a 1989 mission to map the surface of Venus, died of an undisclosed illness in Houston on Monday. He was among the first group of space shuttle astronauts chosen in 1978 and flew as a pilot aboard space shuttle Discovery in 1984. “He was kind of a throwback to the ’60s,” Marine Corps Col. Robert D. Cabana told The New York Times, saying that his friend Walker liked to live an adventurous life on the edge.

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