Discovery Docks; Future Flights Scrubbed

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER (AP) - After a slow somersault to allow an inspection of Discovery's belly, the space shuttle is docked with the international space station.

It's the first shuttle visit since Columbia's demise in 2003. Leak checks and other steps will delay a face to face meeting up to two hours.

NASA says it's grounding future space shuttle flights because foam debris like the kind that brought down Columbia is still a risk.

Shuttle program manager Bill Parsons says "we won't be able to fly again" until that hazard is removed. He told reporters, "Obviously we have some more work to do."'

A sizable chunk of foam insulation that came flying off Discovery's fuel tank during yesterday's liftoff did not hit the orbiter and NASA says it does not pose a risk to the seven astronauts.

But it is a problem NASA thought had been fixed; it represents a
tremendous setback to a space program that has spent two and a-half
years trying to rise from the Columbia disaster.


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