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Nation in Brief / FLORIDA

Shuttle wings get limited inspection

June 02, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

Lacking the proper laser tools, astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery performed a cursory wing inspection as they zoomed closer to the International Space Station.

Discovery did not have enough room for the 50-foot boom -- standard equipment on shuttle flights after the 2003 Columbia tragedy -- because of the enormous Japanese lab that fills its payload bay.

About five pieces of insulating foam broke off Discovery's external fuel tank during Saturday's liftoff, and one or two of them may have hit the shuttle. NASA officials said they were not too worried, because the foam losses occurred after the crucial first two minutes of the flight and lacked the acceleration to do much, if any, damage.

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