A cracked tile and protruding ring on shuttle Endeavour are too small to pose any danger during next week's trip home from the International Space Station, NASA managers said Friday.
In fact, the space shuttle's entire heat shield is solid for re-entry based on five days of intensive photo and data reviews, said LeRoy Cain, chairman of the mission management team.
The good news came as the 11 astronauts prepared to enter the space station's newest room, Tranquility.
Astronauts hooked up the 23-foot (7-meter) chamber early Friday during the first spacewalk of shuttle Endeavour's visit. The room has an observation deck with seven windows, one of them the biggest ever flown in space.
The two crews also planned to open the hatches Friday night between Tranquility and the domed lookout — the $400 million-plus contributions of the European Space Agency.