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Published: Tuesday, 5/12/2009

Astronauts uncover long line of nicks on shuttle where right wing joins fuselage


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. The Atlantis astronauts have uncovered a long stretch of nicks on their space shuttle, the result of launch debris.

They were inspecting their ship Tuesday for signs of launch damage when they came across the nicks. Mission Control informed the crew that it's a 21-inch stretch of nicks over four to five thermal tiles on the right side of Atlantis. The damage is where the right wing joins the fuselage.

Mission Control says it could be related to debris that came off the fuel tank almost two minutes after liftoff.

NASA says the damage does not appear to be serious, but more analysis is needed.

Atlantis blasted off Monday on a risky repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Endeavour is on standby in case a rescue is needed.

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