The crew of the space shuttle Endeavour is on course to dock with the international space station with apparently no damage to the heat shield during takeoff, the Houston Chronicle reports. Tracking cameras indicated possible debris near the shuttle just after launch that may have struck near the ship's nose. Detailed inspections have become routine on missions since the loss of the Columbia in 2003. The shuttle is delivering a robot repairman and a Japanese space lab.
The European Space Agency's pilotless freighter, the Jules Verne, is also on its way to the station with a more mundane cargo of fuel, food, water, clothing, spare parts and other equipment. Despite experiencing some propulsion problems, the Jules Verne is expected to maneuver 1200 miles behind Endeavour until after the shuttle mission is over.