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In-orbit inspection scheduled for space shuttle

Space shuttle Atlantis is circling Earth in pursuit of the International Space Station.

In this image rendered from video and released by NASA, the space shuttle Endeavour is shown as it approaches the international space station before docking Friday, July 17, 2009. The KIBO lab section of the space station is shown at bottom. (AP Photo/NASA TV)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Space shuttle Atlantis is circling Earth in pursuit of the International Space Station.

Atlantis and its crew of six will hook up with the space station Wednesday. In the meantime, the astronauts will pull out an inspection boom Tuesday and check their ship's thermal shielding. They will be on the lookout for any damage that might have occurred during liftoff the previous day.

NASA officials say a quick look at the launch images shows nothing to be worried about. Tuesday's survey will provide additional data. The space agency has been extra cautious ever since the Columbia disaster six years ago.

Atlantis is delivering big spare parts to the space station. It's an 11-day flight, which will keep the crew in orbit over Thanksgiving.


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