After an 18-month hiatus, NASA returned to space with the liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery.
Initially, the launch was deemed a success, but then NASA engineers announced that insulating foam had separated from the shuttle's external fuel tank during liftoff. On July 28, NASA officials concluded that a small piece of foam might have struck Discovery's wing. A similar event resulted in the demise of Columbia in 2003. The future of the space shuttle program is very much in question.
Most frequent messages
1. Since the Columbia disaster, NASA spent $100 million redesigning the external fuel tank
2. NASA shuttle program manager Bill Parsons said, "We decided it was safe to fly. ... We were wrong"
3. Completing the International Space Station is likely impossible without the space shuttle fleet
4. NASA plans to retire the aging space shuttle fleet in 2010
5. President Bush wants NASA astronauts to return to the moon by 2020
Analysis based on 72 articles from major US media outlets from July 27-29
Evaluation and analysis by Cymfony