So far, so good on space shuttle Discovery

Saturday, December 9th 2006, 3:04 pm
By: News On 6

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER (AP) NASA managers say space shuttle Discovery's heat shield looks to be in good condition so far. But it will be at least two days before engineers can rule out any possible damage from the program's first night launch in four years.

The astronauts wrapped up a meticulous inspection of the shuttle, looking for any possible damage from liftoff.

As expected, small pieces of foam debris and ice fell off Discovery's external fuel tank during Saturday night's launch. But they didn't appear to strike the shuttle.

Because Discovery was launched in the dark, NASA technicians weren't able to capture the same sharp photos as they did during last three shuttle launches. Still, they were able to take better-than-expected images from the illumination of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters and engines during the first few minutes of flight.