July 16, 2009 / 10:38 PM / 11 years ago

NASA suspends shuttle flights pending probe

A camera on the Space Shuttle Endeavour's external fuel tank shows falling foam debris during the first critical minutes of the orbiter's launch in this image from NASA TV July 15, 2009. Picture taken July 15, 2009. REUTERS/NASA TV/Handout

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - NASA will suspend flights of its space shuttle fleet until it understands why strips of insulating foam peeled off the fuel tank used by shuttle Endeavour during Wednesday’s launch, officials said.

“We’re not worried about this one, but we need to understand what’s going on for the next flight,” said shuttle program manager John Shannon said on Thursday.

NASA has seven more shuttle launches planned to complete construction of the International Space Station. Its next flight is targeted for launch on August 18.

Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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