Before docking with the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, space shuttle Endeavour performed a backflip maneuver so that crew members on the station could check the shuttle's heat shield for damage. Earlier in the week, as the shuttle lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, pieces of foam insulation fell off the orbiter's external fuel tank, striking the shuttle and carving small nicks (white specks on right edge) into several of the tiles that make up the thermal shield.

ISS commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineer Michael Barratt photographed the shuttle from about 180 meters away Friday, producing high-resolution imagery that mission managers on the ground analyzed to gauge the risk to the shuttle and crew on reentry. NASA personnel have said that the damage, as seen in the photographs and in a robotic-arm survey of the heat shield performed en route to the ISS, appears relatively benign.