Some orbital gymnastics..

Not the Perseids.. The Space Shuttle Endeavour performing a 1 degree per second backflip as the Earth turns beneath it [you can hum a little Johann Strauss Jnr while you watch – Ed]
The serious point to be made is that although the launch appeared to go smoothly the manouevre allowed the ISS crew to photograph the heatshield and, when NASA had examined the images, they discovered a 3 inch gouge which, if it cannot be repaired, could strand the astronauts on the Space Station for several months until a rescue shuttle can be launched.

From the NASA Space Shuttle website

The STS-118 crew continues to conduct a focused inspection of Space Shuttle Endeavour’s heat shield. Using the shuttle’s robotic arm and 50-foot-long Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), the crew is taking a look at five areas on the underside that may have been damaged during the climb to orbit on Aug. 8.

Update More on the damage to the heat shield

Living History 1968-74

A unique, once-in-a-lifetime 10-week course at Stranmillis University College Belfast featuring live, in-depth interviews with leading figures from this tumultuous era in Northern Ireland’s cultural and political history.

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