More debris spotted near shuttle

Shuttle astronauts spotted three pieces of debris floating in space outside Atlantis early Wednesday, a day after the discovery of two other mysterious objects forced a postponement of their landing.

Shuttle astronauts spotted three pieces of debris floating in space outside Atlantis early Wednesday, a day after the discovery of two other mysterious objects forced a postponement of their landing.

Atlantis commander Brent Jett described the objects as two rings and a piece of foil. He told Mission Control the first object, about 30 metres from the shuttle, was "a reflective cloth or a mechanic looking-cloth. ... It's not a solid metal structure."

"It doesn't look like anything I've seen outside the shuttle," Jett said.

The astronauts noticed the objects during an extensive inspection of the space shuttle using a 15-metre boom early Wednesday to see if its heat shield was damaged by a mysterious object that apparently floated off the spacecraft.

Jett suggested the three objects might have come from the Russian Soyuz vehicle, which docked with the International Space Station early Wednesday.

Mission Control told him the Soyuz likely was too far below the shuttle, and that the closest the two space vehicles came to each other was 32 kilometres.