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Discovery Docks With International Space Station as NASA Studies Foam Problem


The space shuttle Discovery is docking with the International Space Station today -Thursday a day after the U.S. space agency grounded the shuttle program.

Before docking, the shuttle performed a backflip maneuver, allowing the space station crew to photograph its underside, focusing on the area that lost tile pieces during Tuesday's launch.

NASA grounded the shuttle fleet after a piece of foam insulation broke off the Discovery's external fuel tank during lift-off.

The same problem occurred two-and-a-half years ago -- when foam debris struck the shuttle Columbia, leading to its disintegration while re-entering the atmosphere. All seven Columbia astronauts were killed.

NASA officials say the foam debris missed the Discovery, but they remain concerned over a piece of heat-resistant tile that broke off the bottom of Discovery's nose, near the landing gear.

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