Iowans who are finding themselves glued to the NASA Channel to hear a native son in orbit aren’t being disappointed. Burlington native Jim Kelly played a critical role aboard Discovery this (Wednesday) morning. He’s been using the shuttle’s remote arm to guide sensors and cameras around the spacecraft to survey any damage from yesterday’s launch. A small piece of the heat-shielding tile from Discovery’s belly is missing and a chunk of what may be foam insulation peeled off the external fuel tank, but NASA’s saying little more. In one exchange, Kelly talked with NASA engineers about the particulars of inspecting Discovery’s nose. Discovery is due to link up with the International Space Station tomorrow. For Iowans listening to the NASA radio traffic, on TV or via the Internet, Kelly is referred to by his call sign “Vegas,” a name he reportedly earned for his poker-playing prowess.
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