Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Discovery heat shields cleared for return home

NASA managers this morning cleared Discovery's heat shields for a final fiery re-entry through the atmospheric on Wednesday.

Before and after docking at the Internatinal Space Station, Discovery's crew of six astronauts scanned panels lining the front of the orbiter's wings and nose cap as well as tiles covering its underside.

Station crew members also shot photos of Discovery as it performed a final backflip during its approach to the outpost.

Analysis of all that imagery indicates the shuttle has sustained no serious damage during its final flight and is ready to attempt an 11:57 a.m. Wednesday landing at Kennedy Space Center, weather permitting.

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