'Discovery's left wing free of space debris damage'
However, the astronauts aboard will have to wait and check if the rest of its heat shield is fit to fly home.india Updated: Jul 16, 2006 08:53 IST
The Discovery shuttle's left wing has suffered no damage from space debris, but the astronauts aboard will have to wait till Sunday to learn if the rest of its heat shield is fit to fly home, NASA has said.
"The left wing was completely cleared," deputy shuttle programme manager John Shannon told reporters yesterday at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.
Analysts were now poring over images from Discovery's right wing and nose cap and will present their conclusions to NASA officials by 3 am (13.30 IST) on Sunday, Shannon said.
"Right now they don't see anything of concern at all, but I'll get the final word tomorrow (today) morning," he said.
Discovery's astronauts used the shuttle's robotic arm Friday to scan the left wing for potential micrometeorite impacts.
They surveyed the right wing and nose cap on Saturday after the shuttle undocked from the International Space Station.
Discovery, which is carrying six astronauts, is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Monday at 18:44 IST, capping a 13-day mission.
The late inspection for potential micrometeorite impacts, a first for shuttle missions, was added to Discovery's schedule as part of NASA efforts to dramatically improve safety three years after the Columbia shuttle disaster.