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NASA: Tile Damage Won't Delay Shuttle Launch

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NASA: Tile Damage Won't Delay Shuttle Launch

Space

NASA: Tile Damage Won't Delay Shuttle Launch

NASA: Tile Damage Won't Delay Shuttle Launch

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Discovery pilot James Kelly and mission commander Eileen Collins after a dry run Tuesday.

Discovery pilot James Kelly and mission commander Eileen Collins after a dry run Tuesday. NASA hide caption

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Thermal tiles on the Space Shuttle Discovery that were damaged by a falling window cover have been repaired and will not delay its Wednesday launch, NASA says. The shuttle mission is the first since Columbia broke up during reentry in February 2003.

As it sat on its launch pad undergoing final preparation and tests at around 5 p.m. ET, the cover of one of Discovery's cockpit windows fell off and struck a panel on the left side of the vessel, 60 feet below. The force of the blow was enough to damage several tiles. Officials say it took about one hour to replace the panel.

NASA maintains that the most important variable in Discovery's launch, planned for Wednesday afternoon at 3:51, ET, is the weather. Experts raised the chance of rain to 40 percent Tuesday.

The mission from the Kennedy Space Center was scheduled to re-supply and repair the international space station, but it is also an important symbolic step after the Columbia disaster.

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