Possible shuttle Discovery damage - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Possible shuttle Discovery damage

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JOHNSON SPACE CENTER- Shuttle Discovery astronauts are looking over their spacecraft for damage that may have occurred in yesterday's launch.

They're using lasers to check the wings and nose. Officials say that although six chunks of foam came off, the debris posed no risk because the bits came off after the crucial first two minutes.

Checks are now standard after a slab of fuel-tank foam ripped a hole in Columbia's wing in 2003, dooming the shuttle. The crew is also checking three wing panels for possible cracks just beneath a protective coating. It's not known if cracks could worsen and cause the coating to chip off, making the area more vulnerable to the 3,000-degree heat of re-entry.

Discovery is expected to reach the space station tomorrow to start an ambitious construction mission expected to last a week and a half.

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