Shuttle Discovery Drops Supplies at Space Station

The space shuttle Discovery is dropping off supplies and a new crew member at the International Space Station, one day after docking at the facility. Discovery is also being inspected for damage from launch.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And now let's get a quick update on the space shuttle Discovery, which docked yesterday with the International Space Station. So far, the craft is performing well, although the crew has not had much time to celebrate. They've been checking for damage the shuttle might have sustained during launch.

NPR's Christopher Joyce reports.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE reporting:

Some shuttle flights are especially nerve jangling, and recent history made this one especially so.

Three years ago, a piece of insulating foam from a fuel tank, struck the shuttle Columbia during launch. As a result, the shuttle burned up during its return to earth, killing its crew. NASA made changes to the fuel tank, and tightened safety rules. Then they flew Discovery a year ago, only to see foam fly off again.

This time, only a few popcorn-sized bits of debris came off. As Discovery rendezvoused with the space station, the station's two-man crew took photos of the shuttle and found nothing amiss.

Flight director Tony Ceccacci says, so far, so good.

Mr. TONY CECCACCI (Shuttle Mission STS-121 Lead Flight Director): Nothing will ever be normal when you're going out to space. It just, you give more of a better feeling that, hey, what I've tried to accomplish and identify and fix the root causes, you know, we're getting there. And there's still more work that we need to do on that.

JOYCE: Yesterday, the shuttle and station crews, seven men and two women, prepared the robot arms on both craft. They'll need them to deliver supplies and hardware to the station, which is still under construction.

There will be at least two space walks, as well, during this trip. Discovery is scheduled to return to earth July 16th.

Christopher Joyce, NPR News.

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