Space shuttle astronauts will check for damage

Associated Press
Space shuttle Atlantis is seen as it launches from pad 39A on Friday, July 8, 2011  at the Kennedy Space Center Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Atlantis is the 135th and final space shuttle launch for NASA.  (AP Photo/ NASA, Bill Ingalls)
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Atlantis astronauts will spend most of their first full day in orbit checking the space shuttle's delicate heat shield for any damage from Friday's launch.

Astronauts will use the shuttle's robot arm and an extension to slowly examine the most vulnerable parts of the shuttle's outer edges. In 2003, the space shuttle Columbia was destroyed when it returned to Earth because of damage during liftoff.

On Sunday, Atlantis will dock with the International Space Station to deliver more than four tons of supplies. The flight of Atlantis is the final space shuttle mission as NASA ends the 30-year program to pursue a new path in space exploration.

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