Space shuttle Atlantis cleared for landing
Thursday, September 21, 2006
NASA has given the 'ok' for the Space Shuttle Atlantis to land on Thursday September 21. NASA also says that there was "no damage" to the shuttle when astronauts spotted a piece of debris floating next to the shuttle.
"We are cleared for entry. Nothing was found to be missing or damaged from the thermal protection system, the heat shield of the space shuttle Atlantis, or, in fact, any other part of the shuttle Atlantis," said N. Wayne Hale Jr., the shuttle's program director.
The debris is believed to be a piece of plastic from under the shuttle's heat tiles. A similar piece was seen by cameras falling from inbetween the heat shield tiles, but when the camera took another look, there was nothing to be found. Hale says that the source of the debris is unknown and that "we [NASA] may never know" where it came from.
"This is most likely the culprit. It was there before, it's not there now. It was most likely shaken loose during the flight control system checkout. We probably will never know for sure," added Hale.
Astronauts used Atlantis's robotic arm to check the shuttle and its heat shield for any signs of damage.
- Richard Green. "NASA Says Shuttle Atlantis Safe to Land Thursday" — , September 20, 2006
- Warren E. Leary. "NASA Clears Shuttle for Return" — , September 20, 2006
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