Discovery chasing space station, survey up next

Feb 25, 2011 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
Space shuttle Discovery lifts off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011. Discovery on its last mission to the International Space Station.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

(AP) -- Space shuttle Discovery is chasing the International Space Station after lifting off for its final mission.

The six astronauts will spend Friday surveying their ship for signs of damage. Several pieces of foam insulation broke off Discovery's fuel tank. But says it happened late enough in Thursday's launch to pose no safety concern. All the same, commander Steven Lindsey and his crew will use a 100-foot boom to inspect the vulnerable wings and nose.

Discovery - NASA's most traveled spaceship - will reach the orbiting lab Saturday. The shuttle is carrying a load of supplies and the first humanoid robot to fly in space.

Following its 11-day mission, Discovery will be retired and sent to a museum.

Explore further: NASA astronauts will breathe easier with new oxygen recovery systems

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