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Tension as Discovery prepares to return home

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Tension as Discovery prepares to return home

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The crew abord the space shuttle Discovery is preparing to return to Earth later this morning after receiving approval from mission control.

Nasa has grounded its fleet until it fixes the problem of breakaway foam insulation tiles – the same fault which caused the Columbia shuttle to blow-up on re-entry two years ago. Flight Director Paul Hill said he will be relieved when it is all over: “We’re going to be pretty darn happy to get the wheels to stop and see this good crew step off Discovery.” After unhitching from the International Space Station, the shuttle orbited the ISS to take photographs from all angles and check for damage. Discovery itself has a few nicks, but Nasa officials say the shuttle is safe to return home and they want to launch another mission as early as next month.