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Last Updated: Friday August 17 2007 06:30 GMT

Nasa says shuttle hole is safe

The space shuttle Endeavour

It's good news for astronauts on the space shuttle Endeavour.

Tests have showed that a 9cm hole on the craft's underside isn't going to cause them a problem when they return to Earth.

Nasa experts had taken almost a week to decide whether the astronauts needed to take a spacewalk to repair the dent.

They had been worried that the hole could lead to damage on re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere, but tests showed it shouldn't.

Endeavour is carrying out a 14-day mission to continue building the International Space Station (ISS) and is docked to it.

But during launch on 8 August, a chunk of insulating foam hit the shuttle, creating a square hole.

Nasa's experts had been concerned because in 2003 seven astronauts on the Columbia shuttle died when a large chunk of foam broke off during launch and pierced the shuttle's wing, damaging its heat protection system.

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