NASA Eyes Endeavor Damage

Engineers say ice chunk hit shuttle's underbelly, could endanger re-entry
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2007 4:01 PM CDT
NASA Eyes Endeavor Damage
In this photo made available by NASA, astronaut Tracy Caldwell, STS-118 mission specialist, works the controls on the aft flight deck of Space Shuttle Endeavour during flight day two activities, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/NASA)   (Associated Press)

Endeavour's astronauts finished their first spacewalk today by installing a 2-ton beam on the back of the international space station, the AP reports. Meanwhile NASA engineers inspected troubling images of a gash in shuttle Endeavour’s heat shield caused, they believe, by an ice chunk that flew off the fuel tank. 

To install the beam, an astronaut on board the station maneuvered it into place with a robot arm, and two spacewalkers successfully bolted it into place. NASA says they plan to hook up more equipment over the next few days and stay at the station for at least another week. The crew will also take a closer look at the gash in the heat tiles on the shuttle's belly tomorrow. Engineers will then determine if a repair is necessary. (Read more space exploration stories.)

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