CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. NASA decided Thursday that no repairs are needed for a deep gouge in Endeavour s belly and the space shuttle is safe to fly home.
Mission Control notified the seven shuttle astronauts of the decision right before they went to sleep, putting an end to a week of engineering analyses and anxious uncertainty both in orbit and on Earth.
The astronauts had spent much of the day running through the never-before-attempted repair methods, just in case they were ordered up.
After meeting for five hours, mission managers opted Thursday night against any risky spacewalk repairs, after receiving the results of one final thermal test. The massive amount of data indicated Endeavour would suffer no serious structural damage during next week s re-entry.
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