Endeavour Shuttle Approaches Space Station

Shuttle will perform back flip for NASA to view launch damage

By MARCIA DUNN
|  Friday, Jul 17, 2009  |  Updated 5:26 AM EDT
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Some foam broke off an adjoining area less than two minutes after liftoff, however, and hit the underside of Endeavour, where the right wing joins the fuselage. That left a series of dings in the thermal tiles.

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space shuttle Endeavour is closing in on the international space station following a two-day chase.

Before docking at the space station Friday afternoon, Endeavour will perform a back flip so the station crew can photograph its entire surface. NASA wants to see whether the shuttle suffered any significant launch damage. An unusually large amount of foam insulation peeled away from a the fuel tank during Wednesday's liftoff.

Endeavour's thermal tiles were dinged in several places by foam. But that damage is considered minor.

The shuttle and its seven astronauts are delivering the last piece of Japan's space station lab, a porch for experiments. Endeavour will remain at the space station for 1 1/2 weeks.

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