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NASA Looking At Debris From Shuttle Launch


The space shuttle Discovery successfully blasted into orbit Tuesday morning, but there are questions about some debris which fell from the spacecraft on take-off.

Discovery and its seven-member crew lifted off Tuesday morning from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, more than two years after NASA grounded shuttle missions due to the Columbia disaster.

As the shuttle roared into orbit on its 12-day mission, video images showed debris falling away. But it wasn't immediately clear if the spacecraft's sensitive outer skin had been jeopardized.

At a news conference late Tuesday, NASA officials said a piece of tile may have come off during liftoff. Tiles have been lost on take-off during previous flights, without causing any trouble during re-entry.

Dozens of cameras taped Tuesday's launch for any signs of flying debris, such as the kind that damaged Columbia's wing on its launch two-and-a-half years ago. The damage led to Columbia's burn-up while re-entering the atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts on board.

NASA officials say they will study the tapes carefully to see if the spacecraft sustained any damage.

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