NASA Grounds Shuttle Fleet - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/28/05-Kennedy Space Center, FL

NASA Grounds Shuttle Fleet

For the first time in almost three years, a space shuttle is linked up with the international space station. Discovery latched onto the space station after doing a high-flying somersault to allow those aboard the outpost to photograph the shuttle's belly for signs of damage.

Yesterday, NASA officials announced they're grounding future flights, as of now, because a big chunck of insulating foam tore away from the shuttle Discovery during liftoff Tuesday -- despite NASA spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to prevent a repeat of the problem that caused the 2003 Columbia disaster.

The space agency will make any needed modifications before shuttles launch again. 

Several smaller pieces also tore away, a NASA spokesman said. But officials said they do not believe the foam hit the orbiter and damaged the spacecraft. 

Discovery's astronauts were told of the foam loss before going to sleep.

This morning, astronaunts received a wake up call in the form of a recording of Louis Armstrong crooning "What a Wonderful World."

Discovery is due to return to Kennedy Space Center in Florida on August 7.

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