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Nation IN BRIEF : FLORIDA : Object Near Atlantis Was Ice, NASA Says

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

NASA engineers said the mini-mystery oblong object seen floating beside space shuttle Atlantis after last week’s satellite release was actually a chunk of ice. The five-foot-long icicle apparently was shaken loose from the outer surface of a shuttle engine nozzle when the astronauts freed the giant communications satellite a few hours after liftoff Friday, a space agency spokesman said. Engineers identified the object after repeatedly viewing a videotape beamed down by the Atlantis crew.


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