NASA Inspects Shuttle Endeavor For Damage

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NASA is inspecting the space shuttle Endeavor after some foam insulation fell away from the spacecraft during Wednesday evening's lift-off.
"Eight or nine pieces of foam insulation came off the external fuel tank during liftoff, and Endeavour was hit at least two or three times," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's space operations chief. "Some scuff marks were spotted, but that probably is coating loss and considered minor."

Endeavor was finally launched Wednesday after a month-long delay due to stormy weather and mechanical issues.

Mike Moses, chairman of the mission management team said some of the damage is not a concern.

"Some of it you just can't really speculate on right now," he said. "But we have the tools in front of us and the processes in front of us to go clear this vehicle for entry in 16 days."

The seven crew members will rendezvous with six other astronauts already posted to the International Space Station.

Endeavour will remain docked at the space station for nearly two weeks.  The shuttle astronauts will help install the third and final piece of the Japanese space station lab, which is a porch for outdoor experiments.    

The team of 13 will set a new record for the number of astronauts working together on the space station.

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